Houston is under water and the situation is getting worse by the hour.
Floodwaters continue rising, even reaching rooflines of single-story homes. People were heard crying for help from inside some of these homes as Harvey dumped more rain on the nation’s fourth-largest city.
According to reports, sometime today or early Wednesday, parts of the Houston region will probably break the nearly 40-year-old U.S. record for the biggest rainfall from a tropical system — 48 inches, set by Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978 in Texas, meteorologists said.
The flooding was so widespread that the levels of city waterways have either equaled or surpassed those of Tropical Storm Allison from 2001, and no major highway has been spared some overflow.
There is no relief in sight. More rain is coming from this historic storm. The worst is yet to come.
Harvey has been blamed for at least three confirmed deaths and it’s very likely there are more. Thousands of homes and businesses have been damaged, even destroyed. People have lost everything they own. Numerous hospitals and nursing facilities are evacuating patients and residents. Public transportation is at a halt. Many schools, hospitals, dialysis centers, nursing homes and airports are closed, and hundreds of thousands of people are still without power.
So, what can we do here on Kauai?
Let’s follow the lead of the American Red Cross.
“Our hearts go out to the thousands of people affected by this catastrophic disaster in Texas,” said Coralie Chun Matayoshi, CEO of American Red Cross, Pacific Islands Region – Hawaii Guam Saipan. “We know this is a challenging and emotional time, and the American Red Cross is working around the clock to get help to where it is needed most.”
Here’s what the American Red Cross is doing in the first phase of this emergency to keep people safe, while providing shelter, food and a shoulder to lean on. It will expand its reach into more communities as soon as officials say it is safe to do so. Its disaster operation will then extend into damage assessment, casework and, eventually, recovery.
• Shelters — in Texas, 1,800 stayed in 34 shelters on Saturday night and at least 6,000 stayed in dozens of shelters on Sunday night. Shelters are also open in Louisiana as bands from the storm move to the east. Mega shelters are being opened in Houston, Dallas and Austin.
• Over 80 tractor-trailer loads of cots, blankets, ready-to-eat meals, comfort kits, kitchen supplies and cleaning supplies are now on the ground in Texas.
• Shelter supplies have been gathered for more than 34,000 people, with additional supplies for 18,000 people en route.
• Over half of the ARC’s emergency response fleet — 200 Emergency Response Vehicles — have been activated for the operation.
• At the end of last week, ARC prepositioned additional blood products in Houston ahead of the storm to help ensure an adequate blood supply would be available for hospital patients.
• Over 900 Red Cross volunteers are already on the ground, and another 4,000 will arrive today.
• 13 Hawaii Red Cross volunteers are deploying to Texas and Louisiana: Five from the Big Island; five from Oahu; three from Maui. Two are already on the ground and more were supposed to leave yesterday but had to be rerouted to Austin when the Houston airport closed.
Here’s where we can help.
Red Cross needs donations to be able to provide immediate disaster relief and continue to provide services in the weeks and months to come. We know Houston is far away and Kauai has its own needs and worries. But the situation in Houston is catastrophic. It’s hard to imagine what people there are going through, how they’re hanging on and what is ahead in these coming days. Scary times.
If you can, please go to redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.