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Harvey hits Houston

Massive storm rocks Texas coast

Trent Williams

Trent Williams

Taken from outside of office buildings on the University of Houston campus, many typically busy streets were flooded as a result of several feet of rain falling during Hurricane Harvey.

Keegan Williams, Liberty High School

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With wind speeds reaching 130 mph and leaving at least 30,000 people without power, Hurricane Harvey is the strongest hurricane to hit landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Rita in 2005.

Beginning as a tropical storm in the Caribbean, Harvey soon became more powerful, moving towards the Texas Coastal Region, and making landfall on August 25, as the second category 4 hurricane to hit Texas since Hurricane Carla in 1961.

The coast of Texas, at 340 miles long, has seen over 24 tropical storms and hurricanes in the last decade, making some locals of the Houston area comfortable with their ability to stay safe during these natural disasters.

“We stayed in Houston because the hurricane was not forecasted to come to us, even though widespread flooding was forecasted after the hurricane made landfall,” Pearland resident Kelly Williams said. “Our house has not flooded before, although there is of course worry during a major, out of the ordinary storm, and since we both grew up in Southeast Texas, we are more comfortable with how to prepare for a hurricane.”

Many people chose not to evacuate as the greater Houston area has approximately 6.5 million residents, and with north the only direction out of Harvey’s path, finding a way out would take hours upon hours.

Many residents began to run out of gas on the road with some cars even flooding due to the complete standstill traffic on Interstate 45.

“Overall it’s almost physically impossible to evacuate the Houston area,” Williams said. “We evacuated during Hurricane Ike and it took 16 hours to make what is normally a 1 1/2 hour drive.”

For that reason, Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston did not order a mandatory evacuation; instead, Houston residents were advised to find safe shelter and write social security numbers on their arms in permanent marker, in the event bodies needed to be identified.

“Now, we are praying we don’t get water in our house,” Williams said. “We are prepared with containers filled with clean water, food ready to bring upstairs, and we will drag stuff upstairs if water gets to the porch — which hopefully it won’t.”

However, some people who aren’t as familiar with tropical storms, decided to evacuate as soon as possible.

“My family and friends wanted to make sure I was safe during the storm so I flew home to avoid any chance of being in harm’s way,” 2017 Liberty graduate and current University of Houston student Nick Vancura said.

“Another reason I came home was because I knew classes were being canceled, everything on campus was shutting down, and most of the people who stayed in the dorms were evacuating as well. So, I knew things were about to get bad and I didn’t want to be stuck in my dorm in the middle of a hurricane.”

With classes canceled for University of Houston, as well as Houston ISD and Pearland ISD until the next week, students tried to get home before the storm hit it’s peak.

“[Nick] had only been down at UH for a couple of weeks, most of the people he knows live off campus, his roommate is also from the Houston area so was able to go home if he needed to and the campus is shut down and the dining hall is running a limited menu,” his mother, Amanda Vancura, said. “We were also worried about the power going out, and he is also down there without a car. At this point, the people left in the dorms can’t leave campus because the roads are shut down so I’m glad he came home when he did.”

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