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Posts published in August 2017

Hurricane Harvey ravages Texas

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, coordinated rescue efforts from the Transtar Headquarters.

Thousands rescued from flooded homes, autos

Evacuees must now turn to rebuilding

By Gilbert Hoffman

Harris County and much of Southeast Texas is trying to recover from the most horrendous hurricane and subsequent flooding in the state’s history.

Hurricane Harvey approached the Texas coast slowly the last week of August, and then on Saturday September 2nd torrential rains started and continued for two days. After that, the fun-off and release of damed water brought severe flooding to a number of Houston and Harris County neighborhoods.

The total numbers are staggering, if not complete. The deaths from the floods are now above 40, and the total number of houses affected by flood water will exceed 100,000. Mayor Sylvester Turner said that about 5% of the houses and Houston have been damaged by high water. Another major casualty is vehicles that were stranded in the water as it rose quickly, and this number is estimated to be above 80,000.

Total rainfall for the last week is above 50 inches in most areas of Harris County and southeast Texas.

First responders, such as the Houston police and fire departments, and Harris County Sheriff’s office, have made over 1000 deep water rescues, and a total of over 6000 responses to all types of calls.

It is reported that as resources came into the city from other parts of Texas and the nation, the number of Coast Guard helicopters involved in rescues was 22, airplanes 3, and boats 28. In addition, Governor Abbott declared a state of emergency in 11 counties, and later added more.

The hurricane first made landfall at the city of Rockport, some 150 miles west of Houston. It then proceeded on to Victoria, and then returned south, heading up the coast to Houston, and eventually Baytown, Beaumont, and Arkansas. Reports from Rockport were of heavy structure damage, with tornadoes accompanying the hurricane along its path.

The governor also sent Task Force 1 and 2, specialized military units trained in storm rescues. One of these went to San Antonio, and the other was housed at NRG stadium in Houston, with a number of high water vehicles and boats.

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Flooding threatens integrity of Waste Pits

Jackie Young (San Jacinto River Coalition) and Scott Jones (Galveston Bay Foundation) explain how the river channel can be changed in a strong weather event such as Hurricane Harvey, and damage or dislodge the waste pits.

EAST HARRIS COUNTY – The San Jacinto River Coalition, and the Galveston Bay Foundation, held a joint news conference Tuesday, Sept. 5 to call attention to the potential damage to the Waste Pits caused by Hurricane Harvey, and the subsequent flooding of the San Jacinto River.

Scott Jones of the GBF called on the EPA to make a thorough inspection of the waste pits, looking for failure of the Cap that now is meant to contain the toxic materials. He also said that EPA has had enough time to answer comments, and make a Final Decision on the method to be used to solve the problem.

Jackie Young of the SJRC said that residents along the river were fearful of returning to their homes, not knowing if any of the toxic material was on their property, in their homes or in their wells. Using a map of the river, she pointed out that it narrowed as it went past the waste pits and under the I-10 bridge. This means that the velocity and strength of the river is greater when it is necked down, and therefore the waste pits are at greater risk of dislodging.

Young pointed out that the membrane and rock cover over the pits has required repair work each year since it was placed. She raised the question of how many times the Cap would be damaged and need repair, if left their the 750 years that it would take for the material to degrade.

In an exclusive interview with the Star-Courier, the contractor for the membrane, Brett Crawford of EcoSeal Protective Coatings, said that the type of membrane installed over the Waste Pits by his company would not withstand long term use, and ultra-violet light from the sun would eventually cause pinholes and deterioration of the ability of the membrane to contain the toxic material.

Scott Jones said that after the flood from the hurricane, that the rock cover had been displaced and some of the fabric membrane had peeled back. In fact, workmen could be seen in the background of the press conference area, working on the Cap to correct these very problems.

Bumpers meant to protect the I-10 bridge were damaged by Harvey.

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Arkema plant catches fire, explodes

The Arkema chemical plant in Crosby had multiple fires and explosions, due to flooding and power failure of refrigerated chemicals.

Evacuation zone around Crosby chemical plant

CROSBY – Locals are returning home near the Arkema Chemical Plant in the 18,000 block of Crosby Eastgate, that was subject to explosions and fires for almost a week now as of Monday, Sept. 4, now to contend with flooding issues that arose from Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Harvey.

Officials say that an active investigation of the Arkema incidents are underway.

The area was evacuated on August 29 at about 2:00 p.m. and US 90 closed at Bohemian Hall. Inquiring residents were told the evacuation was mandatory for 1.5 miles from the plant and that if there were explosions they would not be dangerous outside that area. The closing of US 90 was backed up to Lindstrom Road the following day.

On August 31, the first of a series of fires errupted inside the plant at about 2:00 a.m. Irritated eyes and throats of about 15 law enforcement officers were reported by Sheriff Ed Gonzales of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

One officer was taken to the hospital and so were ambulance crews. All were observed at the hospital and treated and released. More over other first responders were injured by the fumes and remnant of the “flare off.”

At a press conference on August 31, the Sheriff, and Arkema representatives faced the press at Crosby Volunteer Fire Dept. Station 2. Crosby Volunteer Fire Dept. had insisted that Arkema officials face the press concerning events at their plant. Arkema representatives indicated the plant would catch fire and there would be explosions, indicating that there was nothing they could do about it. Richard Rennerd, President of Arkema’s Acrylic Monomers division, addressed reporters Thursday, calling the plume of smoke “an irritant,” but declined to explain further. He warned that inhaling the smoke emanating from the blaze could still pose health risks to the lungs and eyes, “like any fire.”

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HISD cancels classes, activities due to Hurricane Harvey

HISD cancels classes Monday due to threat of inclement weather
District events, activities for Friday and Saturday canceled or postponed

Aug. 24, 2017 – All HISD campuses and administrative offices will be closed on Monday, Aug. 28 and all campus and district activities canceled due to the threat of inclement weather.

Classes are scheduled to resume on Tuesday, Aug. 29. However, the district will continue to monitor developing weather conditions and will determine whether classes can safely resume on Tuesday. The district will make that decision by noon on Sunday, Aug. 27.

All HISD campus-based activities and district events – including professional development and recruiting sessions – taking place after 2 p.m. are canceled for Friday, Aug. 25. In addition, the Houston ISD Athletic Department is canceling all athletic activities for Friday, Aug. 25 and Saturday, Aug. 26. This cancellation includes, practices, scrimmages and any scheduled games.

As a precaution, all non-essential employees at school campuses and central office will be dismissed by 2 p.m. Friday. Essential employees, including facility and transportation staff, will be released at a time determined by their department. HISD officials are monitoring the weather, and should it be necessary, the dismissal time will be updated to an earlier hour.

For additional updates, please monitor HoustonISD.org or call the HISD Inclement Weather Hotline at 713-556-9595. We also encourage HISD staff and parents to sign up for text alerts to receive the most up-to-date information on school closures or delays by texting YES to 68453. Please ensure your number is updated with your school. You can also follow the district on Twitter and Facebook: Twitter.com/HoustonISD and Facebook.com/HoustonISD.

Rotarians, Gene Green host Back2School Immunizations

Congressman Green and Rotary District 5890 Governor Bill Palko, center, are joined at Galena Park High School by other Rotarians, who donated backpacks, medical and school personnel at the free immunization clinic last Saturday. In the background, hundreds of students attended the event.

Students in North Channel were headed back to school this week and last, but not before they got their immunization shots. Congressman Gene Green, with the help of several Rotary clubs, Walgreens, and others, held three clinics last Saturday for free shots. These were in North Houston, Galena Park, and Southeast Houston.

School started for Channelview students last week on Wednesday, August 16, for Sheldon students on August 22, and Galena Park students August 23. Furr High School will start on Monday, August 28.

Green was extremely busy this August, which is Congress’ break. He has completed four Town Hall meetings, and will hold another at North Shore Community Fellowship Church, 444 Maxey Road, on Tuesday night, August 29 at 6:30 p.m. He also held a Senior Citizens Forum on Tuesday in Aldine.

In October, he will host a Paying for College Workshop and Academy Day, and a Northside/Aldine Job Fair. Green’s Eastside office is at 11811 I-10 East, Suite 430, and can be reached at 713-330-0761.

Congressman Green speaks to the large number of students at the Back2School event at Galena Park High School.
Rotarian Maria Rodriguez says these shots don’t hurt… much.

U.S. Marine receives 2nd Lt. commission

Congressman Gene Green, middle, presents a Congressional Resolution honoring 2nd Lieutenant Jovahny Monterrubio, left center; with them are Marines. L – R: Lt. Patrie, Capt. Adam Sanchez, 2nd Lt. Jovahny Monterrubio, Congressman Green, Gunnery Sgt. Crawford, Staff Sgt. Collins Foster and Sgt. Guzman. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

By Allan Jamail

Houston, TX. – August 21, 2017 – A U.S. Marine received his commissioning as Second Lieutenant at the San Jacinto College North Campus at a presentation ceremony last Monday.

The United States Marines Commissioned Marine Corps Second Lieutenant Jovahny Monterrubio, a graduate of San Jacinto College and the University of Houston. Monterrubio chose the Monument Room of the Slovacek Student Center for the ceremony. Family, friends, former co-workers and classmates were present to witness the presentation.

Congressman Gene Green presented a Congressional Resolution honoring Monterrubio.

Green said, “May this day begin a further achievement in ideals of citizenship in your community and for your country.”

Overpass planned for Federal Road

RED INDICATES NEW OVERPASS 1100 FEET LONG, AND APPROACHES TOTAL 2760 FEET. PURPLE INDICATES FRONTAGE ROADS AND TURN-AROUNDS.

Federal Road in East Harris County was the site this Wednesday morning of a Groundbreaking for a new overpass, that promises to relieve the long waits many drivers have experience at the pair of railroad tracks that cross Federal and lead into the railroad yard. Drivers headed to or from the Washburn Tunnel, or Clinton Drive, have reported many delays due to the activity of the Port Terminal Railroad, which blocks the road with crossing gates and trains.

However, a partnership of federal, state, and county government agencies has worked out a solution to this problem, which is an overpass over the railroad tracks.

On Wednesday morning, in the traffic circle in front of the Washburn Tunnel, officials gathered to start the $16.32 Million project, officially known as the Federal Road Grade Separation Project.

Speaking at the ceremony were Congressman Gene Green, Pct. 2 Commissioner Jack Morman, and TxDOT assistant district engineer Eliza Paul. These are the three entities that will pay for the improvements. (more…)

Good Samaritan rescues fire victim

L – R: Jacinto City Police Officers: Officer Benavides, Lt. Longrigg and Lt. Walker assisting Mike Forbis to safety from his burning home, as firefighters gather in the shade of the garage. (Photo by Linda Jamail)

Jacinto City, TX. – Tuesday August 15, 2017 at 11:30 AM fire departments from Galena Park and Cloverleaf arrived to assist Jacinto City’s fire department at a house fire in the 10300 block of Lane Street. The fire filled the sky with dark smoke, seen from I-10 to Galena Park. Galena Park Fire Chief Paul Gregory said the three departments together had 18 to 20 firefighters on the scene.

Inside the dwelling had been Jerry Michael Forbis. However, he was rescued from his burning home by an unidentified lady who noticed the house fire while driving by, and stopped and
ran to his door and got him outside, where arriving police and firemen got him to safety.

Galena Park/Jacinto City Rotary welcomes Broussard as new member

ERIC BROUSSARD, center, was welcomed at a recent Rotary Luncheon as a new member of the Galena Park/Jacinto City Rotary Club. Broussard is a City Commissioner in Galena Park. Seen with him are Bryan Clements, president of the club, and Maria Rodriguez, membership chairman. If you are interested in becoming a member of Rotary, call 713-539-8021 for more information. The club is currently conducting a membership drive, and would welcome you as a guest at an upcoming luncheon.

Constable Chris Diaz speaks to NC Chamber

Constable Diaz and Chamber President Margie Buetello talk after the luncheon, which was held at the Towne Center in Jacinto City.

Harris County Pct. 2 Constable Chris Diaz was on familiar ground last Friday, when he was the speaker at the North Channel Chamber’s monthly luncheon. The event was held at the Jacinto City Towne Center, where Diaz was once city councilman, and then Mayor. Accompanying him at the head table was Ana Diaz, his wife and current mayor.

Diaz made a lively presentation, explaining the organization and functions of a Constable’s office.

He explained that the duties break down into these categories:

– Civil Process, which includes process serving and seizure of property, as an officer of the court;

– Criminal and Law Enforcement, including arrests either with a warrant, or without for felonies;

– Patrol and traffic, especially in the unincorporated areas of the Precinct, accident investigation, and task force duties;

– Support, including office and record keeping functions;

– Training;

– Community Services, including such activities as National Night Out, Easter Egg Hunt, Parades and other events involving participation in the community.

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Rep. Gene Green hosts 22nd Annual Immunization Day Aug. 19

HOUSTON, TX – Congressman Gene Green will be hosting his Annual Immunization Day on Saturday, August 19, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at three locations in the 29th District, which are listed below. In addition to providing free immunizations for children, the event will give parents an opportunity to speak with Congressman Green about preventive health initiatives.

Immunization Day is one of our most widely attended events. “Last year, over 1,500 shots were given,” said Congressman Green. “Immunizations are one of the most important disease prevention steps we can take to protect our children. This is a great opportunity for children to get the shots they need for school at no cost.”

Parents are encouraged to bring their child’s immunization record to ensure that all necessary shots are received.

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