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Posts published in “Day: August 31, 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.

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.

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.”