EP 24 Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey, 2017

[TODD DEVOE] EM Weekly, starting right now.

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[MAN] We’re up on a bridge right now. Right here is a street that we drove on yesterday before the storm hit. Now, it’s all covered in water. It’s insane.

[WOMAN] If you’re trying to get through there. Also, if you’re trying to travel on I-10, the Katy Freeway between Taylor and I-45, basically everything (inaudible). I’m Julie Harris from the Gulfcoast.com, 24 hours, 24/7.[TODD DEVOE] Hey, this is Todd DeVoe with EM Weekly, and in this episode, we’re just going to discuss the Harvey disaster hurricane/tropical storm/tropical depression/a heck a lot of water, going into the Texas area. Specifically, Houston, Galveston, those places are being really impacted. They’re expecting… FEMA expects more than 450 thousand Harvey disaster victims to file for assistance during this event. So, U.S. Emergency Management Officials heard on Monday that they were expecting federal resources for Texas to help rescue efforts under Hurricane Harvey’s swamped coastal areas of the state, forced 30,000 people to seek refuge in temporary shelters, and it sounds like it’s going up. I actually spoke to a friend of mine today, on the phone, and this is Monday, regarding the issue they have going on. And they’re in Houston, the area where they live, normally, is never affected by any of the floods in the Houston area. And the complex where they live, they have a condo complex, is completely cut off right now. They do not have an egress at this point. The only way that they have out, as of today, as of Monday, 8/26/17, is via boat or helicopter. And as I was talking to them, they said that the helicopters are flying over their house, and they said it’s kind of unnerving. One of the things that they talked about is that they’re ready. These guys, they’re prepared, they have water, they have food, they have emergency water and food. They said the people in their complex don’t have anything. That they’re cut off completely and they don’t have food. Even if they can stay in their house, they don’t lose electricity, or even if they do electricity, right? They can stay in their shelter without being flooded out, they just don’t have a way to get around. They basically don’t have food or water. And Rudy and Wendy do, you know, and they’re prepared. But what do we do about their neighbors, right? And that’s kind of one of the issues, that’s why as emergency managers, we really go into emergency preparedness and disaster preparedness, and this is what we’re talking about. An issue that we have with Hurricane Harvey and any other type of event like this, right? So, Donald Trump, the president, approved an emergency request on Monday for Louisiana, where a severe flood is also expected. So now, we’re going multi-states, right? This is a Katrina-

[TODD DEVOE] Hey, this is Todd DeVoe with EM Weekly, and in this episode, we’re just going to discuss the Harvey disaster hurricane/tropical storm/tropical depression/a heck a lot of water, going into the Texas area. Specifically, Houston, Galveston, those places are being really impacted. They’re expecting… FEMA expects more than 450 thousand Harvey disaster victims to file for assistance during this event. So, U.S. Emergency Management officials heard on Monday that they were expecting federal resources for Texas to help rescue efforts under Hurricane Harvey’s swamped coastal areas of the state, forced 30,000 people to seek refuge in temporary shelters, and it sounds like it’s going up. I actually spoke to a friend of mine today, on the phone, and this is Monday, regarding the issue they have going on. And they’re in Houston, the area where they live, normally, is never affected by any of the floods in the Houston area. And the complex where they live, they have a condo complex, is completely cut off right now. They do not have an egress at this point. The only way that they have out, as of today, as of Monday, 8/26/17, is via boat or helicopter. And as I was talking to them, they said that the helicopters are flying over their house, and they said it’s kind of unnerving. One of the things that they talked about is that they’re ready. These guys, they’re prepared, they have water, they have food, they have emergency water and food. They said the people in their complex don’t have anything. That they’re cut off completely and they don’t have food. Even if they can stay in their house, they don’t lose electricity, or even if they do electricity, right? They can stay in their shelter without being flooded out, they just don’t have a way to get around. They basically don’t have food or water. And Rudy and Wendy do, you know, and they’re prepared. But what do we do about their neighbors, right? And that’s kind of one of the issues, that’s why as emergency managers, we really go into emergency preparedness and disaster preparedness, and this is what we’re talking about. An issue that we have with Hurricane Harvey and any other type of event like this, right? So, Donald Trump, the president, approved an emergency request on Monday for Louisiana, where a severe flood is also expected. So now, we’re going multi-states, right? This is a Katrina-esque, Sandy-esque type of issue. Obviously, not as widespread, but the money is going into, the billions of dollars are ready, and the affected people. As of a news report this morning, Houston has sent over 2,000 boat rescues, and there’s an armada of volunteer boat people down there taking… “boat people” is not the term I want to use. But they’re volunteer boaters that are out there doing rescues right now. One of the issues specifically associated with those rescues that are being done by the late people is all the other hazards that are associated with the water, right? If you remember, during Katrina, we had some rescue dogs that actually got very sick due to the water, and we had rescuers that were sent home due to disease that they received in cuts and stuff, due to the contaminated water. Obviously, animals and humans that were decomposing in the water at that point, and obviously, the oils, and gas, and whatnots are floating around in that water that are being brought up to the homes. And this is not clean water. When I see people out there, you know, playing in the water, I always kind of go: “oh man, these people don’t know what they’re really getting into.” Brock Long, this is his first test as a FEMA administrator. So far, it seems like he’s doing ok. He’s making the rounds, getting on the news, and saying the right things. So, I’m confident at this point that we’re not gonna have the brownie issue that we had during Katrina if you guys remember that particular thing. So, FEMA is in the process of deploying some life-saving commodities. Army core engineers have already been dispatched out there. I know that the (D.Matt and D.Morgan), and other rescue teams from California are either on their way, or they have been… some of them are there already, most of them, they’re on standby here in California. American Red Cross is sending tons of volunteers over there to do sheltering, and I know that Team Rubicon is gearing up to send people. They have a rescue team headed that way as well, and they have people on standby to go help out with the disaster recovery aspects of this particular event. So, that being said, how bad really is this, compared to other issues? One of the issues that we have here is there was a lot of – in the beginning of this event, before it even hit – landfall. You have different, you know, we have an issue specifically associated with the equivocation of terminology, one; two, conflicting reports, and three, conflicting information is being sent out to the public. So, you have the governor of Texas, saying: “Hey guys, this is gonna be really, really bad. You need to evacuate, get out of the low land areas.” Then you have mayors of cities that are saying: “Don’t worry about it, we’re cool, we’re gonna be safe here,” just a wait-and-see type of situation. Then you have another mayor who is saying: “Hey, we’ll evacuate this entire area and if you don’t leave, write your name and social security number with a sharpie so we can know who you are.” And that got a lot of flak. We do have a lot of mixed messages coming here, so as emergency managers, we really have to kind of think about what our message is, specifically. And I know that we work on this, and communication is always one of those things that, in the hogwash that comes out, of what could we improve. There was definitely conflict here going on from the governor’s office, compared to the Houston Mayor’s office, who was doing a wait-and-see, and now they’re isolated, right? Police officers and firefighters are rescuing many people on the flood waters, according to reports. And on Sunday, thousands of state and national guardsmen, 20 helicopters, 60 boats, and high-water vehicles have been deployed, and declared to citizenship know that the cavalry is coming. I’m not exactly sure what that means; you know, are there enough resources out there to rescue everybody? I’ve seen on Facebook people requesting friends: “hey, can you bring your boats to Houston?” People are saying: “Hey, I have people who are looking to get rescued.” I know, we’re talking about Instagram, there’s lots of stuff on there, specifically associated with people asking to be rescued, because they can’t get a hold of 911. Are we now putting rescuers and late people at risk by going to look for these people because they did not evacuate in a timely matter? Yeah, we are. For the most part, you’re not gonna have any rescuer complain about that, because this is what we’re here for, this is what our job is, I suppose. But at the same time, now we have some unnecessary rescues that could have been avoided by timely evacuation. And again, with the mixed messages coming from the Houston mayor, I could see why we’re in this predicament right now. Although there seems to be that they’re saying the right thing and doing the right thing right now. Also, in Houston, the Red Cross Command Center is physically isolated amid the flood waters. Even the Red Cross has been affected by this, particularly in Houston. So, everybody is kind of scrambling to move around where they need to be. There’s been a flotilla, like I said, of boats that are coming out, kayaks, people are coming in there. They’re rescuing people, I quote: “You’re seeing rescuers from a very expensive high-end to very low underpartments”, said West Houston business owner, Jay Goldstein. It’s hitting people equally. We are all equal in a disaster, correct? What does this mean? What does this mean for us? This is definitely a storm that we need to keep an eye on; not just because of the rescues and the humanitarian issues, but also the lessons learned from: when do we set that evacuation up, can we get the same message across the board? And it seems like some of the issues are political, and we’re never gonna get rid of that, right? As emergency managers, we have to work around the political aspects of things. I mean, did the Houston mayor not want the evacuation to occur because he disagreed with Abbot? And the ones that are Republican – the government Abbot, of Texas -, one is a Republican and the other one is a Democrat? Was that a factor? And if so, that is so wrong. Or was is just the fact that Houston and other low areas in Texas have been hit by hurricanes before and they didn’t want to look like overreacting. And one of the issues we talk about when I teach is the concept of underreacting versus overreacting. And I think both are very, very bad, right? So, if you overreact, people are going to get so burnt out of the type of thing, as far as evacuation. But if you underreact, then you have Katrina-esque things, like the lower 9th ward. Or what we’re having specifically here in Houston, where thousands upon thousands of people are stranded by the flood waters, because the mayor didn’t want to send out an evacuation notice, because he didn’t want to overreact, and he wanted to wait and see. And this is what we have going on here. That was the right thing to worry about, as it turned out, regarding the response to Harvey, the first category 3 or higher to hit the United States in 12 years. Right? This is the first large storm to hit in 12 years. Do we get complacent? You know, is that one of the things we have? Anyway, we have to just wait and see what’s going on. I’m looking at this map right here, I wish I could show it to you. And showing that flood levels of .1inch to 26 feet. And we’re talking feet of water now. I just heard something about the trillions of water that have fallen in Texas; trillions of gallons of water are falling out of the sky into Texas. And Houston is just getting bombarded with the water. You can see that it’s hitting over into Louisiana as well. Has it stopped raining yet? This is Monday morning, it’s 10:30a.m. as I’m recording this, and it seems to be that we’re gonna just keep getting pounded with this rain. Let me look really quick. They’re expecting, according to the weather report here, it looks like it’s gonna rain all the way until Friday. Yep, it has rain all the way to Friday. So, it clears up a little bit on Friday, and then Saturday and Sunday it’s gonna start raining again. Wow. The have prediction of rain, from what I’m looking at here, all the way until Wednesday, the 6th of September. So, yeah, it’s not gonna stop here. So, we’re gonna have some serious flooding issues that it’s not gonna go away really quick with Houston. We’ll keep you guys updated, specifically on this. I’m trying to get a hold of a couple of people in Houston to see what their experiences are. I know that right now they’re busy evacuating, so I can’t really talk to them today. If I can get a hold of them, I will make sure that this is included into what we’re talking about. But as of today, Monday, we are wherever we’re at. So, let’s take a quick break here, and we’ll see what we have coming on the way back.

All right, thanks for coming back from the break here. So, right now, reports are coming in that at least 8 people have died. This is just the reports from right now. As we listen to some of the sounds from Harvey here, it’s just… again, it’s heartbreaking. I talked earlier about the 2,000 people that have been brought to safety, and there’s still more in need of help, and they’re calling for boats. This is Monday, still. And obviously, this was going off on Thursday, and I mean, there’s a lot, a lot of issues that are going on down there, that doesn’t look like it’s going to kind of let up anytime soon. So, that’s the news coming off with the… just coming back from the break here. Heard a couple more things from my friends that are over there. Evacuations are still in effect, obviously. They’re getting out of the area, some of them are having a hard time getting out of the area. Getting updates from Team Rubicon, getting down there. TR guys, keep kicking butt as you’re down there and doing what needs to be done. Red Cross, opening their shelters, they’re overwhelmed as well. So, if you have time and you can volunteer, and you are registered with Team Rubicon or registered for the Red Cross, or want to get involved, get involved and register, get your (inaudible) check done, and get out there and help. If you have the time to be able to get down there, they really do need your help. And again, like I said, make sure that you are in with the organized organization that you’ve gone down, do not self-dispatch, because you will not get in and nor will you be of any help. So, that being said, I am donating to Team Rubicon for this event. If you want to donate to Team Rubicon, it’s TeamRubiconUSA.org. That’s TeamRubiconUSA.org. I’ll put the link down on the show notes, and get over to them to donate because they do great work. They have teams that are in there that are doing some work right now, and they could use your support.

[MAN] Terrifying, man. Man, I’m scared to heights already, and my trailer was just bouncing up and down, and it was just… I lost everything. It wiped me out. And this is my first hurricane, so… yeah, I’m scared. This is my home.[REPORTER] What about your friends and family? Where are they at, man?

[REPORTER] What about your friends and family? Where are they at, man?[MAN] I don’t know. There’s been no cell service, Thursday, Friday, haven’t gotten a hold of anybody. If my mom and dad

[MAN] I don’t know. There’s been no cell service, Thursday, Friday, haven’t gotten a hold of anybody. If my mom and dad is watching, I’m ok.[REPORTER] What are their names? In case they are?

[REPORTER] What are their names? In case they are?

[MAN] Betty and Brian.[REPORTER] Where were they last?

[REPORTER] Where were they last?[MAN] My mom is in Oklahoma, and my dad… there’s no telling where my dad’s at. I’m here in Ramport waiting on you.

[MAN] My mom is in Oklahoma, and my dad… there’s no telling where my dad’s at. I’m here in Ramport waiting on you.[TODD DEVOE] It hasn’t taken long for Harvey to become political. As a matter of fact, it started to become political right away with people talking about Ted Cruz and the vote for superstorm Sandy. And I’m not gonna get into politics here on this show, but I just wanted to say how quickly it’s become political. Ted Cruz had to put out a statement defending himself, or whatever, his point of view. For me, it’s either here or there, like I said, we’re gonna stay away from politics on this. I just wanted to say how quickly these storms are becoming political, and as emergency managers, we have to kind of keep that in the back of our mind everytime we respond to the events. Interesting enough, the mayor, I think I mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth going over it again. The mayor was calling for physical items to be donated, and that’s one of the things I really disagree with here. Basically because what you can do with money is much better than what you can do with the donations. As we call that second disaster, donation management. So, that’s going on. You know, the Red Cross is looking for money. Like I said, I’m donating my money. EM Weekly is donating money, and some of my personal money, to Team Rubicon for their response to this event. As Harvey expands over Louisiana and Texas is bracing for more rain, it’s getting really nasty out there. I shouldn’t say getting nasty, it’s been nasty for a while. That’s kind of where we’re at with it. You’re gonna start seeing a lot of the climate type of… climate change people come out and talk about that’s really shaping the storm; maybe it is, maybe it

[TODD DEVOE] It hasn’t taken long for Harvey to become political. As a matter of fact, it started to become political right away with people talking about Ted Cruz and the vote for superstorm Sandy. And I’m not gonna get into politics here on this show, but I just wanted to say how quickly it’s become political. Ted Cruz had to put out a statement defending himself, or whatever, his point of view. For me, it’s either here or there, like I said, we’re gonna stay away from politics on this. I just wanted to say how quickly these storms are becoming political, and as emergency managers, we have to kind of keep that in the back of our mind everytime we respond to the events. Interesting enough, the mayor, I think I mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth going over it again. The mayor was calling for physical items to be donated, and that’s one of the things I really disagree with here. Basically because what you can do with money is much better than what you can do with the donations. As we call that second disaster, donation management. So, that’s going on. You know, the Red Cross is looking for money. Like I said, I’m donating my money. EM Weekly is donating money, and some of my personal money, to Team Rubicon for their response to this event. As Harvey expands over Louisiana and Texas is bracing for more rain, it’s getting really nasty out there. I shouldn’t say getting nasty, it’s been nasty for a while. That’s kind of where we’re at with it. You’re gonna start seeing a lot of the climate type of… climate change people come out and talk about that’s really shaping the storm; maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But again, that’s gonna be coming out. NPR has a story right now, that says: “The rain won’t stop: more than 2 days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Texas coast, the downgraded storm continues to dump rain across the region. How a warmer climate helped shape Harvey.” So, these are the stories that you’re seeing out here, the dramatic photographs and the video. It is odd taking unbelievable to see what the people are going through. And you know, some of the people that are coming in and standing on the shoreline, and just being pounded, and then they wonder why they’re not being rescued. Yeah, so that’s kind of where we’re at with this. What do you think about that? I mean, do you think that this storm… superstorm Sandy, do you think this Harvey here, was this, or is this being caused because of the warmer climate, or is it because of a climate change? Or is it just a cyclical aspect of storms? You know, again, I’m not a scientist, I’m just a public administrator. According to this article, it says: “How climate change may have helped Harvey to form and intensity.” And I’ll read this article real quick: “This year, high sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, where Harvey formed, according to an analysis published in March, the Gulf stayed above 73 degrees Fahrenheit the entire winter. At the time, Harvey intensified to a category 4 hurricane, and the Gulf is about four degrees above normal.” This is a research made by the National Ocean and Atmosphere Administration in Boulder, Colorado. Noah. So, the water in the Gulf of Mexico is a heat reservoir, supported by these hurricanes, says Ben Curtmin, an Astropheric Scientist for the University of Miami. And the warm water in the air above the Gulf means that there is more energy to drive storms, such as Harvey. So, the scientists are saying: yeah, for sure! This is due to the warming, and we’re gonna see more intense storms. So, what does that mean for us, as emergency managers? What do we have to think about as far as the storms coming up? You know, obviously, this is the first of the year. The reports said it was the first of 12 years that we’ve had something of this magnitude hit. I don’t know. I mean, obviously, we’re all hazards approach when it comes to our stuff. So, are we going to really get closer at storm-related events like this? I think so. That’s my opinion. I think we do. I wanna hear your opinion, if you can go ahead and comment in the comment section, or you know, just shoot us an “Ask Todd”, and let’s talk about this. This is our community, this is what we’re here for. Let me know what you think. Anyway, I just wanna say thank you all for taking the time out of your day to listen to this podcast. My heart and my thoughts are with everybody over in Texas and Louisiana that are affected by the storm. Again, if you have any donations, donate to your favorite charity. Like I said, I’m donating to Team Rubicon, because I think they are doing great with what they do. So, anyway, thanks a lot, guys. I’ll see you guys next week. Bill Cunningham will be joining us next week to talk about his business emergency response training, the BERT training that they do. And after that, the week after that, we’re going to be talking to Vince Davis about tribal planning for emergencies. Have a wonderful day, and see you next week.[REPORTER] The winds now are gusting to probably almost Hurricane 65-70, and I’ve got shingles now, ripping of these houses, the houses that are kind of under construction, and the water is now breaching the wall here, look at the wall, look at the wave that is coming up over the wall here now. The walls are probably 5-6 feet, coming above the wall now here. This is the South Shore wall. I’ve got shingles coming off this house, and shingles are ripping off the back of this house. I do have flying debris now, and this is going to be in the (inaudible) just Southeast of Rockport, there’s flying debris. Trees are going down also, just saw a big (inaudible) tree that just came crashing to the ground as well. There is damage in winds now on-shore. And it’s 3… 2:55 Central Time here, and the damage and wind are continuing. This is the house here, you see that…

[REPORTER] The winds now are gusting to probably almost Hurricane 65-70, and I’ve got shingles now, ripping of these houses, the houses that are kind of under construction, and the water is now breaching the wall here, look at the wall, look at the wave that is coming up over the wall here now. The walls are probably 5-6 feet, coming above the wall now here. This is the South Shore wall. I’ve got shingles coming off this house, and shingles are ripping off the back of this house. I do have flying debris now, and this is going to be in the (inaudible) just Southeast of Rockport, there’s flying debris. Trees are going down also, just saw a big (inaudible) tree that just came crashing to the ground as well. There is damage in winds now on-shore. And it’s 3… 2:55 Central Time here, and the damage and wind are continuing. This is the house here, you see that…

[REPORTER] The winds now are gusting to probably almost Hurricane 65-70, and I’ve got shingles now, ripping of these houses, the houses that are kind of under construction, and the water is now breaching the wall here, look at the wall, look at the wave that is coming up over the wall here now. The walls are probably 5-6 feet, coming above the wall now here. This is the South Shore wall. I’ve got shingles coming off this house, and shingles are ripping off the back of this house. I do have flying debris now, and this is going to be in the (inaudible) just Southeast of Rockport, there’s flying debris. Trees are going down also, just saw a big (inaudible) tree that just came crashing to the ground as well. There is damage in winds now on-shore. And it’s 3… 2:55 Central Time here, and the damage and wind are continuing. This is the house here, you see that…

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About Todd De Voe 39 Articles
Involved in Emergency Response, Emergency Management, Education and Volunteer Management for over 25 years.Served as a Corpsman assigned to the Fleet Marine Force of the United States Navy. I now teach Emergency Management at Coastline Community College, I am also the Host of EM Weekly.

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