The Unexpected Disaster Known as Hurricane Harvey

by Vraj Oza

A Category 4 hurricane is one with winds exceeding 131 miles per hour. The previous hurricane of such potency (Hurricane Katrina, which reached Category 5 in 2005) ravaged the country, leading to costs of “...over $108 billion dollars” according to The Balance. The 12 year hiatus of major hurricanes assailing United States soil has led to the formation of major hurricanes today.

 

Initially, the hurricane was assumed to bring minimal damage; however, nothing could be further from the truth. Beginning August 24th 2017, the experts at the National Hurricane Center saw the storm that they had been monitoring for over a week was contradicting its expected course and was quickly gaining momentum. Michael Brennan, who works as an expert for the National Hurricane Center stated “That was the day when we realized that it was going to much worse. We had aircraft data and saw that the storm was beginning to rapidly intensify.” Within the next two days, Hurricane Harvey became one of the strongest hurricanes to ever bring havoc onto the US.

 

Despite many of the warnings, the severity of the hurricane was still in question. In fact, the messages to the citizens of Houston were rather contradicting as the mayor of Houston (Sylvester Turner) stated “...told the people to stay put. Don't evacuate. Ride out the storm” according to NPR, whereas when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott shared his advice he stated "If you have the ability to evacuate and go someplace else for a little while, that would be good." The latter advice would actually prove correct.

 

Hurricane Harvey brought havoc through a combination the winds and astronomically high levels of rainfall. Some rainfall metrics computed “50 inches of rain...”, according to The Economist, over the 4 day period between August 24th and August 29th. Such severe downpour and winds led to wreckage over the majority of Eastern Texas and portions of Louisiana. It also brought the 4th largest city (Houston, Texas) and the area around it into ruins, due to catastrophic inland flooding. This induating of the cities trapped those who chose not to or failed to evacuate. It’s record flooding caused the deaths of over 70 people  and both major and minor injuries to many others. This catastrophic hurricane had also brought upon severe devastation upon to the communities, destroying the lives that the people had struggled to build. However those who cried out desperate pleas were not left unanswered.

 

Many valiant heroes sacrificed to help those whose lives were ravaged by the hurricane. Makeshift navies were formed, the Coastal Guard arrived, and those fortunate enough to aid others came to answer the call to help aiding in both rescuing victims as well rebuilding their new community. Relief programs to raise money for the damage caused by the hurricane ranged from from the tech giants in Google and Facebook to those of modern sports such as J.J. Watt. They and the rescuers aimed to ensure that the rebirth of the post Hurricane Harvey portions of Texas and Louisiana would receive a speedy recovery.