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Hurricane Harvey unleash catastrophe in Houston, parts of Texas

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Houston/AP: Floodwaters reached the roof lines of single-story homes on Monday, and people could be heard pleading for help from inside as Harvey kept pouring rain on Houston after a chaotic weekend of rising water and rescues.

The nation’s fourth-largest city was still largely paralysed, and there was no relief in sight from the storm that spun into Texas as a Category 4 hurricane, then parked itself over the Gulf Coast. With nearly 2 feet of rain still expected, authorities worried whether the worst was yet to come.

Water gushed from two reservoirs overwhelmed by Harvey as officials sought to release pressure on two dams that were at risk of failing from the immense floodwaters that have filled the city. The move aimed at protecting the downtown business district risked flooding thousands more homes.

Meanwhile, authorities continued plucking people from the floodwaters—at least 2,000 so far, according to police chief Art Acevedo.

Houston Police SWAT officer Daryl Hudeck carries Connie Pham and her 13-month-old son Aiden after rescuing them from their home surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

At least 185 critical rescue requests were still pending on Monday morning. The goal is to rescue those people by the end of the day, Acevedo said.

With rain falling unabated, he said there was nowhere left for the water to drain.

“I’m not sure where the water is going because it’s just so much that we can’t really absorb more in the ground at this point,” he told MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Harvey, which made landfall on Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and then lingered just off the coast as a drenching tropical storm, sent devastating floods pouring into Houston on Sunday. The rising water forced a mass evacuation of parts of the city and overwhelmed rescuers who could not keep up with constant calls for help.

As many as 50 counties are affected by the flooding, Federal Emergency Management Agency director Brock Long said on Monday. The rain and floods have been blamed for at least two deaths.

Emergency vehicles made up most of the traffic on Monday in downtown Houston. The normally bustling business district was virtually deserted. Many traffic signals did not work and most businesses were closed.

Residents living near the Addicks and Barker reservoirs—which were created to prevent flooding in downtown Houston—were warned on Sunday that a controlled release would cause additional street flooding that could spill into homes. The rising water and continuing rain put pressure on the dams, which could fail if the pressure is not relieved.

Harris and Fort Bend county officials advised residents to pack their cars on Sunday night and leave in the morning.

“When the sun comes up, get out,” said Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist for the Harris County Flood Control District. “And you don’t have to go far, you just need to get out of this area.”

The Red Cross quickly set up Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Centre and other venues as shelters. The convention centre was also used as a shelter for Katrina refugees in 2005. By Monday morning, it had already reached half its capacity.

More than 2,600 people had taken shelter there, said Ken Sandy, a shelter manager for the American Red Cross.

Red Cross officials estimated that the convention centre can accommodate roughly 5,000 people, although Sandy cautioned that the shelter had run out of cots and was waiting for more to arrive.

The Army Corps of Engineers started the reservoir releases before 2am on Monday—ahead of schedule—because water levels were increasing at a rate of more than 6 inches (15 centimetres) per hour, Corps spokesman Jay Townsend said.

Officials in suburban Fort Bend County issued mandatory evacuation orders late Sunday along the Brazos River levee districts as the river rose to major flood stage. The National Weather Service predicted that the water could rise to 59 feet (18 metres), 3 feet (90 centimetres) above 2016 records and what County Judge Robert Herbert called an “800-year flood level.”

That much water would top the levees and carries a threat of levee failure, Herbert said.

On Sunday, incessant rain covered much of Houston in turbid, gray-green water and turned streets into rivers navigable only by boat. In a rescue effort that recalled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, helicopters landed near flooded freeways, airboats buzzed across submerged neighbourhoods and high-water vehicles plowed through water-logged intersections. Some people managed with kayaks or canoes or swam.

Volunteers joined emergency teams in pulling people from their homes or from the water. Authorities urged people to get on top of their houses to avoid becoming trapped in attics and to wave sheets or towels to draw attention to their location.

Long predicted that the aftermath of the storm would require FEMA’s involvement for years.

“This disaster’s going to be a landmark event,” he said Sunday.

The weather service warned that the flooding will get worse in the days ahead and that the floodwaters will be slow to recede once Harvey finally moves on.

Up to 20 inches (51 centimetres) of rain could fall in the coming days, on top of the more than 30 inches (76 centimetres) some places have already seen, weather service director Louis Uccellini said on Monday.

Rescuers were giving priority to life-and-death situations, leaving many affected families to fend for themselves. And several hospitals in the Houston area were evacuated due to the rising waters.

Some people used inflatable beach toys, rubber rafts and even air mattresses to get through the water to safety. Others waded while carrying trash bags stuffed with their belongings and small animals in picnic coolers.

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner urged drivers to stay off the roads.

The deteriorating situation was bound to provoke questions about the conflicting advice given by the governor and Houston leaders before the hurricane. Gov. Greg Abbott urged people to flee from Harvey’s path, but the Houston mayor issued no evacuation orders and told everyone to stay home.

The governor refused to point fingers on Sunday.

“Now is not the time to second-guess the decisions that were made,” Abbott, a Republican, said at a news conference in Austin. “What’s important is that everybody work together to ensure that we are going to, first, save lives and, second, help people across the state rebuild.”

The mayor, a Democrat, defended his decision, citing the risk of sending the city’s 2.3 million inhabitants onto the highways at the same time.

“If you think the situation right now is bad, and you give an order to evacuate, you are creating a nightmare,” Turner said.

The Coast Guard deployed five helicopters and asked for additional aircraft from New Orleans.

The White House said President Donald Trump would visit Texas on Tuesday, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump.

Harvey was the fiercest hurricane to hit the US in 13 years and the strongest to strike Texas since 1961’s Hurricane Carla, the most powerful Texas hurricane on record.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Abraham Madu

    August 29, 2017 at 12:28 am

    Dr. Ola Kassim,
    Daalụ.
    Please ask Rev. Chukwuemeka Reuben Ọkala if this is God’s warning as He did to Noah?
    The rain is still falling hard in Houston, Texas.
    Standing here by the window looking through the glass ,is our only option!
    Onye sị na Imo River atala, ya zọnye ụkwụ ya, ka Ọ hụ na anya!
    Ekwe ekwe na ekwe n’ute ekwere,kpọm kwem!
    Ya kpọtụba!
    Ya gazie.
    Ụmụ nne Abrahamụọgụ Aṅụsịobi Madụ.

  2. Rose Omeaku

    August 28, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Chido, God is particular about his own so do not be dismayed over this terrible flood.

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CHIDO

USAfrica: Novelist Chimamanda reveals she was sexually assaulted at 17

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Special to USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com   @Chido247

Award-winning novelist and author of Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has revealed that she was sexually assaulted at the age of 17 by “a big man” in the media in Lagos, Nigeria.
She was born on September 15, 1977 in Enugu. She revealed this during an address at the 2018 Stockholm Forum for Gender Equality. 

Chimamanda recalled how she had taken a book of poems she wrote to a “big man in the media” so he could support her in publicizing that work but the yet undisclosed man sexually assaulted her he slipped his hand under her shirt and bra, then squeezed her breast. “I was so taken aback that I did nothing for seconds”, she said. Then, I pushed his hand away, but gently, nicely, because I didn’t want to offend him.

“Later that day, I broke into a rash on my chest, my neck, my face, as though my body were recoiling, as though my body were saying what my lips had not said.”

“I felt a deep loathing for that man and for what he did. I felt as if I didn’t matter, as if my body existed merely as a thing to be done with as he wanted. Yet, I told no one about it. And I kept talking to him, being polite, hoping he will help with my book.”

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CHIDO

#USAfrica #BrkNews: Barbara Bush has died at their home in Houston

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Barbara Bush, first lady from 1989–1993 during the presidency of her husband, George H. W. Bush, has died at their home in Houston. She was 92; and the mother of George W Bush

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AFRICA

World SOCCER SHOWDOWN: South Africa backs Morocco; U.S under pressure

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  • USAfricaonline.com  •  @Chido247  @USAfricalive

“It is an old myth that Africa doesn’t have the capacity, and naysayers should stop using the political argument. Africa hosted the best Fifa World Cup ever and with good support, Morocco can emulate South Africa,” said the SAFA president Jordaan.

Johannesburg – South Africa Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has promised Morocco that South Africa will give its unqualified support to secure another World Cup on the African continent in 2026.

Morocco is vying to stage the world’s biggest football prize against a joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

The Moroccan delegation comprises ex-Senegal and Liverpool striker El Hadji Diouf and former Cameroonian goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell.

Jordaan said it would be great for Africa to have a second bite of the World Cup cherry, adding Morocco’s bid was Africa’s bid.

Jordaan assured Morocco that he would personally lobby for the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) and the rest of the continent to rally behind the Moroccans.

In his remarks, Antoine Bell said Morocco had all the ingredients to host another spectacular World Cup.

“South Africa showed the way and I am confident Morocco will follow suit. The country has international standards, from the stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world,” he said.

By giving Morocco its support, South Africa’s voice would make all the difference on the continent, Bell said.

“When South Africa talks on the continent, the rest of the continent listens hence it is vital for South Africa to support Morocco. South Africa has the experience and Morocco will use this experience to win the 2016 bid,” added Bell. African News Agency

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