As of Tuesday, major parts of Houston looked like a small ocean dotted with islands, and nearly two more feet of rain is still expected. At least 10 deaths have been attributed to Hurricane Harvey, but officials warn that they have not yet gone through what can be the most excruciating part of the rescue operation: going door to door, clearing streets and, almost certainly, finding more people overcome by these waters.
Houston Public Media reporter Florian Martin has been following some of the folks affected by the floods, and says the Red Cross has set up about 57 shelters across the city. The largest shelter is housing around 9,000 people — 4,000 more than its capacity.
Martin says Houston Public Media interviewed evacuee Michael Thompson, who sought shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center:
“They had done a couple of rescues because there were like 40 of us in the little abandoned warehouse,” Thompson said. “The National Guard came twice; they made two pickups. So, I guess they, and plus, our families, because we were on the phone with our families. This morning, the Army truck came and got us.”
Martin says the shelter at the convention center has asked for donations to help accommodate all of the extra people. Some people are sleeping on donated yoga mats because there aren’t enough cots to go around, he says. The shelter also needs socks, pillows, blankets and towels.
Martin says another Houston Public Media reporter in Tomball spoke with evacuee Katherine Hodge, who is staying in a shelter at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:
“First thing in the morning, we just kind of took our umbrella and we spray-painted on a towel ‘Help’ because we had two other families in our home, too,” Hodge said. “So there was about 11 of us trying to just hunker down through the night and we grabbed the first boat we could see and tried to get everybody on board.”
Despite the dire circumstances for flood victims, Martin says Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner stands by his decision not to order evacuations, especially after evacuations from Hurricane Rita went so poorly in 2005.
“You always learn from the last disaster, and so he didn’t want to risk that again,” Martin says.
Written by Caroline Covington.