House-to-house search for Storm Harvey victims
As flood waters recede, rescuers are searching for both survivors and bodies in neighbourhoods ravaged by the raging flood waters.
Rescuers have begun door-to-door checks of tens of thousands of Houston homes, searching for victims – either dead or alive – left behind in the flood waters of Storm Harvey. More than 200 firefighters, police officers and urban search-and-rescue team members have begun working their way from house to house, hunting for survivors or bodies. At least 38 people have been killed, including a family of six whose van was swept off a Houston bridge by violent flood waters. The death toll is expected to rise.
As the flood waters recede, residents dump soggy furniture, carpet and wood in front of their homes, ruined in the raging waters.
Crews are using GPS devices to log checked homes rather than painting neon X’s on the outside – as they did following Hurricane Katrina – to avoid alerting potential thieves to vacant homes. More than one million people have been displaced by the hurricane and subsequent flooding, which has damaged over 87,000 homes and forced over 32,000 people into temporary shelters. Assurances have been made to storm victims living in the country illegally, that they will not be targeted if they access emergency services.
While the storm has now moved on to threaten Port Arthur, on the Texas-Louisiana border, many parts of south eastern Texas and south western Louisiana remain submerged. Two explosions have taken place at a flooded Texas chemical plant 25 miles northeast of Houston, following damage caused by storm Harvey. A hospital in Beaumont, a city east of Houston, has been forced to evacuate its patients, starting with the sickest first, due to a broken water supply.
Schools in Houston – which teach around 216,000 students in total – will now not open until 11 September, two weeks after classes were scheduled to start for the new term. Officials have also set up a working group to tackle illegal activity following the storm, and have said they are already getting calls about scams in the wake of Harvey.
During a visit to Rockport, the small town first slammed by the hurricane, vice President Mike Pence promised to bring southeast Texas back “bigger and better than ever before.”
Over 311,000 people have so far registered for disaster assistance, and $53m (£41m) has been distributed. The White House is preparing a $5.9bn (£4.6bn) package in Harvey recovery aid, and Donald Trump has pledged $1m (£774,000) of his own money to the cause. A host of celebrities have also donated, including actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Sandra Bullock who have both donated $1m. The President and First Lady Melania will visit Texas again on Saturday, and are expected to visit Houston. Sky News