The Backstory: Five years ago this week, Hurricane Harvey brought catastrophic flooding to Texas
From LaGrange to the Texas Coast, unprecedented flooding left thousands homeless.
TEXAS, USA — From Rockport to La Grange to Port Arthur, Hurricane Harvey, which first came ashore along the middle Texas coast on Aug. 25, 2017, left death and destruction in its path, with the Houston area suffering the worst damage.
As the story unfolded on television that August, there were images of unimaginable flooding seen on the news, and no doubt, indelible memories for the 13 million Texans who were directly affected by the hurricane.
Harvey’s story wasn’t as much about winds and tides as about rain. Unlike most hurricanes that continue moving forward on a path until they fall apart over dry land, Harvey was different. It struck the Texas coast three times and simply refused to move.
An entire year’s worth of rain fell in one week in southeast Texas. The floodwaters were so heavy that scientists said Houston sank almost an inch under its weight. Harvey flooded hundreds of miles of Texas from Port Arthur at the Louisiana border to La Grange, over 100 miles inland. It was the second worst hurricane since 1900 with a $125 billion price tag for the damage it caused.
But Harvey was also a story about everyday heroes. There were thousands of rescues from high water, many carried out by volunteers in fishing boats intent on helping their neighbors.
In the aftermath of Harvey, there were some lessons for disaster responders. Houston officials said they will do a better job of understanding the language and cultural differences of its diverse population of seven million-plus people when issuing future warnings about hurricanes. They said more mental health services will be needed for people who suffer losses from disasters.
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