Tropical Storm Harvey
Our thoughts and prayers go to Texas and Louisiana residents who have been affected by Tropical Storm Harvey. Here are some facts that suggests the real issue is climate change. The five days after arriving in Texas the hurricane Harvey left behind 24,000,000,000,000 gallons of water, disastrous flooding across the Houston region resulting in several deaths and many more injuries. The hurricane force winds arrived before dawn on Wednesday near southern Texas and began pushing its way northeast. The category four hurricane pelted the residence with foot after foot of rain.
The storm has inundated parts of the Houston area with more than three feet of rain. In Harris County, alone, up to 30 percent of land has flooded (Lindner, Harris County Flood Control District). In some areas, there has been a total of 50 inches of rainfall setting a record in the North American continent. The hurricane, luckily, has been downgraded to a tropical storm because it grew weaker overland. Many Texans may wonder have we received the bulk of the destruction?
Governor Greg Abbott of Texas has said at a briefing on Wednesday, “The worst is not yet over as far as rain.” According to the Capital Weather Gang, the Beaumont and Port Arthur area; east of Houston has seen more than 26 inches of rainfall on Tuesday. Making rainfall totals to be more than 47 inches since Friday. This gave the area a new annual record for rainfall with four months still left to go in 2017.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office received so many calls of distress that the city was being overwhelmed with hundreds of rescue calls. The rain in Port Arthur, a city in Jefferson, was so treacherous that a shelter reportedly evacuated after flooding. It was reported that first responders struggle to get enough boats into the city of 55,000 people. In the Houston area, authorities had said it would take 10-15 days for the flood waters to recede (http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/03/us/houston-texas-flood-aftermath/index.html).
If the immediate destruction from the storm in Texas was not enough the aftermath is going to be more taxing than anything. There are at least 13 toxic waste sites in Texas that have been flooded or damaged by Harvey, adding to the challenges as the region and cleanup efforts following the deadly storm. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on September 2 that it has assessed 41 Superfund (CERCLA) sites using aerial images. Superfund sites are polluted locations requiring a long-term response to clean up hazardous material contaminations. CERCLA authorized the EPA to create a list of such locations, which are placed on the National Priorities List. The affected sites hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants.
The toxic waste sites are not the first environmental threats Texas has endured since Harvey swept through the region. Fires have broken out over the two days at a flooded chemical plant near Houston, releasing toxic compounds into the environment, and environmentalists, in turn, are pointing the finger at politicians and industry leaders who have sought to lessen regulations. Criticizing, specifically, the EPA for delaying a chemical plant safety rule once President Donald Trump took office. In part, the rule would have ensured first responders knew what chemicals they may come in contact with and how to handle those chemicals in an emergency response situation.
Along with the turmoil, wastewater treatment plants spill their guts releasing many contaminants into the water. The A and B lab took three samples from in a small area from Houston and found the colonies of fecal matter in sample one: 8,600 Colony Forming Units (CFU), sample two: 3,700, and sample three: 6,300. The EPA standard for waters that individuals swim in is zero CFUs of feces. The total Coliform in the floodwaters in sample one is 57,000 CFUs, sample two is 43,000, and sample three is 45,000. The EPA standard is less than 100. The wastewater treatment manager states that these numbers are more than likely higher than what was conducted. He is more worried about Vibrio pathogens, bacteria popularly described as “flesh-eating,” that has sickened two dozen and killed six people (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/08/29/the-health-consequences-to-expect-from-hurricane-harveys-floods/?utm_term=.7bbfc838b557).
If the planet wants to address these issues of natural disasters there needs to be immediate action addressing the bigger issue of climate change in the upcoming years. We need to start turning away from our fossil fuel consumption and start making healthier choices. In one of my previous posts titled, “The Topic of Climate Change,” http://www.chadfrancour.com/the-topic-of-climate-change/. This paper gives a bleak outlook if we continue living the same way. My hopes from presenting these facts about the recent disaster is to bring awareness and continuity of everyone in this world. We only can wait and see what will become of these natural disasters.
Footnote: I will pray for everyone that has been or will be affected by hurricane Irma.