Hurricane Harvey disaster in Texas, USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

More than 450,000 Harvey disaster victims expected to file for aid

29 August 2017

Rain from the tropical storm Harvey continues to drench the city of Houston in the US state of Texas.

Up to 30,000 people have been forced to leave their homes and mandatory evacuation orders are in place in several areas.

Federal officials have warned that more than 450,000 people could be affected.

Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro reports from Houston, Texas.

FLOODING CONTINUES TO WORSEN IN TEXAS Here’s what you need to know about the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which caused one of the worst flooding disasters in recent U.S. history. At least 10 people have died in the storm. These graphics break down how the flooding is only expected to get worse. Flooding isn’t the only threat — damaged refineries could be spewing toxic fumes, there are floating fire ant colonies and the public health impact of the storm has only just begun. And if you only watch one thing today, this heart-wrenching video of a man letting his dad know he survived the storm should be it. [HuffPost]

By Charles Abelard in Houston and Jerry White in the USA:

Government negligence exacerbates Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston, Texas

29 August 2017

The residents of Houston, Texas are battling record rainfall and rising floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm. The region is bracing for a second landfall, expected on Wednesday morning.

The storm is responsible for at least nine deaths and billions of dollars in damage in Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city. Houston and other areas in Texas are already drowning under 30 to 40 inches of rain. Up to 20 inches of new rainfall is expected by Thursday, and the storm is set to break rainfall and flooding records by substantial amounts.

The emergency shelters hastily established by authorities in Houston are overflowing with at least 30,000 residents. The number of fatalities and injuries will likely increase over the next few days, as fast-moving water, fouled with sewage, chemicals and debris, prevents rescuers from reaching flooded areas and helping residents, particularly the poor, sick and elderly, escape to safety.

Even after the tropical storm system moves to the east, the city’s rivers, creeks and bayous will continue to flood into Houston’s neighborhoods for weeks to come. Waterways are not expected to crest for another three to four days.

Seeking to avoid the political disaster President George W. Bush suffered during Hurricane Katrina, President Donald Trump is traveling to the region today. In a press conference Monday, he made perfunctory remarks about the flooding and assured residents that there would be adequate federal funding to rebuild the city.

Trump dodged questions about the impact of his proposed cuts to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on rescue efforts, as well as questions about his threat to shut down the federal government if Congress does not provide funding for his proposed wall along the Mexican border.

A little more than a week before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Trump signed an executive order revoking a set of regulations to make federally-funded infrastructure projects less vulnerable to flooding and sea level rises due to climate change. As the hurricane bore down on Houston—the home of the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the country—Trump pardoned the fascistic Arizona sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of racially profiling and illegally detaining motorists.

The San Jacinto River, which divides Harris and Montgomery counties, is flowing over its banks and creating serious flooding in northern suburbs. Two reservoirs, the Addicks and Barker, which are normally dry and used for pastureland, are so full that officials from the Army Corps of Engineers ordered a controlled release of water to ease pressure on dams and prevent a breach.

The release of water into the Buffalo Bayou will cause flooding in neighborhoods along its banks. While multi-million-dollar homes in the affluent community of Memorial are protected by 30 to 40 foot riverbanks, the working class neighborhoods in the flat and low-lying areas, east of the downtown area and along the industrialized Houston Shipping Channel, are expected to suffer increased flood damage.

The chief victims of the flooding are the poor and working class. One pregnant woman, who works two jobs, told that she had lost a car she had just bought and that her apartment had been flooded. Houston is the home of 100,000 refugees from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

While wide swaths of the city are working class and poor, only New York City is home to more Fortune 500 corporations than Houston. Houston’s corporate giants include ConocoPhillips, Halliburton, Marathon Oil and other energy and oil industry conglomerates. The city was formerly the headquarters of Enron.

Former president George H.W. Bush and his wife issued a statement saluting the “flotilla of volunteers—Points of Light all—who are answering the call to help their neighbors” and the “local elected officials for their grit and determination in the face of this extraordinary storm.” The former Texas [congressman] and CIA chief promoted deregulation and massive handouts to the oil industry, which undermined flood defenses, leaving the city’s residents vulnerable to this disaster.

In contrast to the corporate-controlled politicians, working class residents of all races and nationalities have demonstrated enormous self-sacrifice and social solidarity. They have used fishing boats, inflated rafts and even inflated mattresses to rescue neighbors and strangers.

Although the city is prone to flooding, and recently passed through damaging floods during the “Tax Day Flood” on April 15, 2016 and the “Memorial Day Flood” in 2015, the official response has been haphazard and chaotic.

And while there were advance warnings of the approaching storm, Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, did not issue a mandatory evacuation order, citing the dangers of a hurried, “unplanned” evacuation. This was a reference to the disaster following Hurricane Rita in 2005, when area freeways quickly clogged and thousands were trapped in their cars for 18 hours or more. Commuters ran out of gas and water and many elderly evacuees perished.

The previous disaster produced by an unplanned evacuation has been used by local officials to justify no evacuation at all, leaving tens of thousands at the mercy of unprecedented flooding.

TRUMP DEFENDS PARDONING JOE ARPAIO DURING THE HURRICANE Saying “I assumed the ratings would be far higher.” [HuffPost]

This video from the USA says about itself:

Residents Describe ‘Disaster’ in Harvey’s Wake

27 August 2017

People scrambled to safety in Dickinson, Texas amid rising floodwaters left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

By Barry Grey in the USA:

The Houston flood disaster: A social crime of the American oligarchy

29 August 2017

The world is looking on in shock as Houston, Texas, the fourth-largest city in the United States, is engulfed by flood waters. At least nine people are dead, a figure that will no doubt rise in the coming days. Thousands remain stranded, awaiting rescue. Tens of thousands have been forced to take shelter in emergency accommodations. Some of the worst rain is yet to come.

The catastrophic flooding engulfing Houston and southeast Texas is spreading to cities as far away as Dallas and Austin and threatening to once again overwhelm New Orleans, Louisiana. Hurried evacuations are being organized in cities throughout the region, as well as previously unaffected neighborhoods in Houston, where residents are being forced to abandon their homes as officials release water from overwhelmed and endangered reservoirs.

Twelve years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, an even larger and more populous metropolitan area is being turned into a scene of indescribable suffering. The countless examples of human solidarity among the victims, overwhelmingly working class and of all races, contrasts starkly with the indifference and incompetence of the government and political establishment.

Like Katrina, Hurricane Harvey has lifted the lid on the ugly reality of American society, exposing colossal levels of social inequality, pervasive poverty and ruling class criminality. Behind the mindless media commentary, generally favorable to the White House and the right-wing Republican governor of Texas, and the pro-forma statements of politicians, one senses nervousness and fear that this latest demonstration of the failure of American capitalism will trigger an eruption of social indignation.

But the authorities cannot conceal their complacency and indifference. In a disgusting performance, President Donald Trump gave a press conference Monday in which he combined lavish praise for the official response to the flood disaster, calling it “incredible to watch” and a display of “cooperation and love,” with bathos about “one American family” that “hurts together and endures together.”

Reciting his scripted remarks as though he were reading the phonebook, Trump offered no proposals to relieve the suffering of the victims or provide them with money to rebuild their lives. He evaded a question about his proposal to slash hundreds of millions of dollars from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including steep cuts to the Federal Flood Insurance Program.

FEMA administrator William “Brock” Long on Monday gave himself and the government a blanket amnesty for their dereliction, declaring, “You could not forecast this up. You could not dream this forecast up.”

The [Rupert Murdoch owned] Wall Street Journal sounded the same theme in an editorial posted Monday. “Immunity from nature’s fury,” the newspaper wrote, “is an illusion that humans cultivate until we are forced to confront that fury again. We forget the damage that storms and earthquakes can do.”

This renunciation of any responsibility for the unfolding disaster in Houston was combined with praise for the massive accumulation of wealth among the uppermost layers of society, declaring that “Complex societies can better cope with the damage if they have a reservoir of accumulated wealth” among “private sources”. Thus, according to the leading mouthpiece of Wall Street, the answer to the unfolding tragedy in Texas is the further enrichment of the financial oligarchy!

Such claims that catastrophic events like the Texas flood are inevitable “natural disasters”, and nothing can be done either to forestall, contain or manage them, are self-serving lies.

Houston is the most frequently flooded urban area in the country. Officials at the federal, state and local level were repeatedly warned by scientists and weather experts that the license given to real estate developers and speculators to pave over wetlands, as well as the government’s refusal to build proper flood defenses, was setting the city up for an unprecedented flood disaster. These warnings were ignored.

This is the 21st century, not the Dark Ages, and the United States is the richest country in the world. Four hundred years ago, the Dutch figured out how to build cities situated below sea level. The US is, moreover, home to some of the most advanced research and engineering institutes in the world. Yet supposedly no one could have anticipated or planned for the flooding of a major city on the Gulf of Mexico?

What has been done in the 12 years since Katrina to prevent more hurricane disasters? Nothing! Or, more accurately, less than nothing, because Katrina was seized on as an opportunity to treat New Orleans as virgin territory for the privatization of public assets and establishment of a free market paradise for big business, to be replicated across the country. The most overt example of this plundering operation was the dismantling of the public school system in favor of private, for-profit charter schools.

Catastrophes such as the Texas flood are social crimes, committed by a financial aristocracy that has spent the past half-century plundering the country and neglecting its social infrastructure, while accumulating unimaginable sums of personal wealth. According to the corporate-controlled media and the entire political establishment—Democrats no less than Republicans—there is no money to build up flood defenses or rebuild crumbling bridges, roads and water systems, modernize and expand public transport or provide decent schools and housing for the population.

But there are trillions of dollars stashed away in the bank accounts and stock portfolios of the rich and the super-rich. Hundreds of billions are squandered every year on the instruments of war.

The country staggers from one preventable disaster to another: Katrina in 2005, the BP oil spill in 2010, Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and now Harvey. In between are countless floods, tornadoes, fires and other events that wreak havoc on working class and poor families, who are left to fend for themselves by a ruling elite drowning in its own excess.

Just as in the feudal era, when the development of society required the expropriation of the landed aristocracy, so today society must seize control of its own resources from the modern aristocracy of finance and corporate wealth. The barbarians of today, who hoard society’s wealth and say nothing can be done to address poverty, disease, war or repression, must go the way of all ruling classes that stand in the way of social progress.

It is not that society cannot afford the type of social investment needed to prevent or minimize the impact of events such as Hurricane Harvey. What society cannot afford is the rich.

It is to the working class—united across all racial, national and ethnic lines, both in the US and internationally—that the task falls of removing this monstrous obstacle to progress from the historical scene. The capitalist parasites must be expropriated, their wealth used to meet social needs, and their stranglehold over the means of production shattered to allow the rational, planned and humane development of economic and social life on the basis of socialist ownership and democratic control of industry, finance and the planet’s natural resources.

UP TO 30,000 TEXANS COULD END UP IN SHELTERS. HERE’S ONE OF THEM “I’m just thinking about all the things I worked so hard to provide the kids and my family … Now it’s all gone.” [HuffPost]

How Texas Republicans are singing a different tune about hurricane relief following Hurricane Harvey.

While more than 1,000 people were rescued in Houston alone from Tropical Storm Harvey’s widespread flooding, Texans also came to the aid of animals: here.

Fire ants floating in Houston: here.

13 thoughts on “Hurricane Harvey disaster in Texas, USA

  1. From: Chris Kutalik-Cauthern via
    Date: Mon, August 28, 2017
    Subject: Hurricane Harvey: How to Help
    To: Jim Hightower


    Thousands in our state are suffering because of Hurricane Harvey and spillover flooding since this weekend. Our Revolution Texas members are among them. Many of us around the state are wondering how we can volunteer and donate to help the many in hard-hit areas. We all know that showing solidarity in trying times is an important part of what we do and why we do it as progressive populists.

    In the Houston Area

    If you have a flat-bottomed boat or a high-water vehicle, you are urgently needed. Call 713-881-3100.
    If you are in need of immediate help from a life-threatening emergency call 9-1-1.
    If you are or know others in need of non-emergency help call 3-1-1 in Houston or 2-1-1 in nearby areas.

    Outside Houston

    Local relief groups, progressive organizations, unions, and immigrant rights groups are already mobilizing grassroots relief efforts. Here is a list of groups and efforts you can plug into to help:

    The Texas Workers Relief Fund. A union-relief effort by the Texas AFL-CIO, donations are tax-deductible. The state fed has been closely coordinating with the Houston and Corpus-area central labor councils to provide material aid.

    RNRN Disaster Relief Fund. Our ally the National Nurses United organizes medical relief for major disasters through this fund.

    Texas DSA. DSA chapters (also allies) have been organizing both volunteers and those in need at a grassroots level. Sign up here to offer help (or ask for it) or donate directly to Houston DSA.

    Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group Fund. If you want to donate directly for relief in the Coastal Bend towns hit directly by the hurricane.

    Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Houston’s mayor has set up this fund to assist with victims of Houston’s ongoing and increasingly dangerous flooding. Donations are tax-deductible.

    The extreme enforcement policies of SB4 and ICE have put immigrant workers in increased harm’s way through the crisis. Immigrant and refugee groups such as RAICES in San Antonio are moving to get aid directly to immigrant families. Jumping in now is just the beginning.

    In solidarity,

    Chris Kutalik-Cauthern
    Our Revolution Texas, Statewide Coordinator


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