JoAnna Mitchell, Staff Reporter
Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 storm, made landfall in Texas near Port Aransas late on the night of Friday, August 24. In the days since, up to 50 inches of rain has flooded Houston and surrounding areas, setting a record for the continental United States.
Harvey is the first Category 4 storm to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Charley in 2004. Thus far, Harvey has claimed 30 lives including the life of senior Houston Police Sgt. Steve Perez, age 60. Perez drowned while carrying out his duty to serve the people of Houston in their time of need.
Rescue efforts are being carried out around the clock, with over 2000 survivors rescued as of 7:33 a.m. Tuesday morning. The Coast Guard has sent 500 service members as well as 20 helicopters to aid other groups and individuals such as the Cajun Navy, a group made famous during Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005. The group is made up of individuals from Louisiana who use their own boats and supplies to carry out rescue operations for those stranded by the storm. You can donate to the American Red Cross relief efforts at www.redcross.org.
Many people are criticizing Joel Osteen, a televangelist with a net worth of around $40 million, for closing the doors of his multi-million-dollar megachurch to Harvey’s victims. Osteen initially claimed flooding had rendered the church inaccessible but after immense internet backlash, Joel and his wife and co-pastor, Victoria, have opened the building as a shelter as of 11 a.m. Tuesday. The building seats 16,800 people and at one time housed the NBA’s Houston Rockets.
Several groups and individuals have begun rescue efforts for pets who were tragically left behind after their owners’ hasty evacuations. Many animal shelters and private individuals have donated their time and risked their lives to save animals stranded by the deluge. The Animal Care Services of San Antonio had taken in an estimated 200 displaced and abandoned animals as of Monday afternoon, according to the New York Times. The ASPCA is also aiding in the animal rescue efforts. You can donate on their website www.ASPCA.org .
Harvey has doubled back as a tropical storm, now heading towards Louisiana on the 12th anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina.