Hurricane Harvey | KUOW News and Information

Hurricane Harvey

The charity World Vision International is a major provider of disaster relief across the globe. So when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the group's office in the United States revved up its fundraising big-time.

"We've raised just under $4 million in cash donations," says Drew Clark, senior director of emergencies at World Vision's U.S. office.

Two weeks later Hurricane Irma roared through the Caribbean and Florida. This time World Vision brought in $900,000.

Steve Moddemeyer on Brooklyn Avenue in Seattle's U-District.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle doesn’t get hurricanes like the ones that recently dumped trillions of gallons of water on Texas and Florida. 

Since Cold War days, U.S. airmen have hunched over radar screens and computer terminals at McChord Field outside Tacoma. They monitor for intruders and anything else amiss in the Western skies.

Some of those airmen pivoted to a very different mission early last week, remotely coordinating aerial rescues in Texas.

Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET

The disaster relief bill given final approval by Congress on Friday can't come too soon for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Without a new injection of funds, officials said FEMA's cash box would be empty as early as this weekend, right around the time that Hurricane Irma is scheduled to slam into southern Florida, while southeast Texas and Louisiana are still drying out from Hurricane Harvey.

Emergency aid to help victims of Hurricane Harvey now also includes additional money to fight wildfires in Oregon and other western states. 

The U.S. Senate on Thursday added provisions replenishing the U.S. Forest Service's budget for the rest of this fire season. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said it should amount to more than $100 million in additional aid. He said the money will ensure that the agency won't have to cannibalize programs aimed at making fires less likely to burn in the first place — something he said has frequently happened in the past.

As Dr. Ruth Berggren digests the calamity affecting her new home state of Texas, she admits to some PTSD.

In 2005, she was an infectious-disease doctor at Charity Hospital in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, and she became one of a small number of physicians left to care for 250 patients for six days, trapped by flooding and without running water or electricity.

There isn't a city in the United States, and there are probably very few anywhere in the world, that could have handled Hurricane Harvey's 50 inches of rain without significant flooding.

But Harvey was Houston's third flood in three years to surpass the "100 year flood" mark. Urban planners and civil engineers say a combination of natural and man-made factors has created a chronic drainage problem that left the city especially vulnerable to Harvey's torrential rains.

Coast Guard Petty Officers 3rd Class Eric Gordon and Gavin Kershaw pilot a 16-foot flood punt boat and join good Samaritans in patrolling a flooded neighborhood in Friendswood, Texas, Aug. 29, 2017. The flood punt team from Marine Safety Unit Paducah, Ken
Flickr Photo/Coast Guard News/(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/WZGrcJ

Bill Radke speaks with Amy Costello, founder and managing editor of the Tiny Spark podcast, about why you need to be careful with the donations that you send to help with the flooding in Houston. 

Texas National Guard soldiers conduct rescue operations in flooded areas around Houston, Texas 27 August, 2017. (Photo by 1Lt. Zachary West, 100th MPAD)
Flickr Photo/The National Guard/(CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/XVUayD

Bill Radke speaks with Scott Heinze, deputy director of the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management, about the latest efforts and challenges faced by a team of first responders from Washington who went to help with the recover in Houston from Tropical Storm Harvey.

Editor's note on Sept. 1: Some listeners and readers have asked why NPR pressed Red Cross operations and logistics executive Brad Kieserman about how much of the money his organization receives will actually be spent on helping those affected by Hurricane Harvey. NPR's questions were follow-ups to several years of reporting by NPR and ProPublica about shortcomings in the organization's disaster relief operations and misleading claims about its finances. NPR has asked several times in recent years to speak with Red Cross President and CEO Gail J. McGovern.

As the full extent of the damage from Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana starts to become clear, many of us have been glued to coverage of urgent rescues, including of people's pets.

Updated at 10:40 p.m. ET

Fire broke out and containers of chemicals burst at the Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas, early Thursday, confirming fears that highly flammable organic peroxides produced at the plant could pose a threat after Hurricane Harvey knocked out safety systems.

Much of Beaumont, Texas, is an island, with major roads cut off by floodwaters.

John Livious is standing in front of a hotel, looking out as rescue trucks navigate the flooded road in. Conditions here are getting worse.

"Winds picking up. Rain getting heavier. Water rising. Very bad sight," he says. "Wouldn't wish this on anyone."

Livious came here to escape rising water in Houston early Sunday. Evacuating was an easy call, he says.

Bill Gilmer remembers spending the night listening to the winds of Hurricane Ike tear through his suburban Houston neighborhood in September 2008. He also recalls waking up the next morning to hear something completely different.

"The first sound I heard was chainsaws, and I looked out and all my neighbors were out there clearing the streets, clearing their yards, cleaning up their yards," says Gilmer, who directs the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston's C.T. Bauer College of Business.

Texas National Guard soldiers conduct rescue operations in flooded areas around Houston, Texas, 27 August, 2017. (Photos by 1Lt. Zachary West, 100th MPAD)
Flickr Photo/The National Guard/(CC BY 2.0)https://flic.kr/p/XVUhAK

On Sunday, as Harvey pounded Houston with record rainfall and flooding, 17 emergency responders from Washington received a call to help.


The rain just won't stop. More than two days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast, the downgraded storm continues to dump water across the region.

So much rain has fallen in the Houston area that the National Weather Service has had to revamp its charts.

Climate researchers agree that climate change can be partially to blame for the devastation. Here's how it has (and hasn't) shaped the course of the storm.

The remnants of now-Tropical Storm Harvey have all but parked over south Texas and the storm is inundating the region around Houston with "unprecedented" rain, according to the National Weather Service.

Houstonians have been stranded in their homes, and some of those who were on the roads were in need of rescue as areas of Houston received as much as two feet of rain with no immediate end in sight.

Then-Hurricane Harvey made landfall late Friday evening near Corpus Christi, Texas, as a Category 4 hurricane, one of the strongest storms to make landfall in recent history.

Updated at 2:44 a.m. ET Sunday

Tropical Storm Harvey remains a serious threat as it continues a slow march across Texas, killing at least two people, even as the National Hurricane Center downgraded it from a hurricane on Saturday.

While the wind was weakening, the rain proved to be relentless.

Updated at 6:30 a.m. ET Saturday

More than 211,000 people were without power along the Gulf Coast of Texas early Saturday as Hurricane Harvey slowly made its way inland.

"Harvey is expected to slow down through the day and meander over southeastern Texas through the middle of next week," the National Hurricane Center reported at 4 a.m. Central time.

The National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Harvey is now Hurricane Harvey and is forecasting it will become a major hurricane to hit the middle Texas coastline.

Here & Now‘s Meghna Chakrabarti finds out what to expect from the storm over the weekend from Jen Carfagno (@JenCarfagno), meteorologist and host of “AMHQ” at The Weather Channel.

Final update  Friday, 9:11 p.m.

Find future updates here.

President Donald Trump has signed a declaration of disaster for the state of Texas, allowing federal money to flow to areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Updated at 1:45 a.m. ET Friday

Hurricane Harvey is getting stronger and could make landfall in the middle of the Texas coast Friday night, the National Hurricane Center says, warning of the potential for a deadly storm surge and flooding along the Gulf of Mexico.

Early Friday morning, the Center said Harvey had strengthened to a Category 2 hurricane with maximum winds as strong as 100 mph.