News Roundup: More Than Half Of Hurricane Harvey-Related Deaths Occurred Outside Floodplain Areas

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelApril 24, 2018 5:55 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A new report finds the majority of fatalities from Hurricane Harvey occurred outside of 100- and 500-year floodplains.

Antonia Sebastian, with Rice University, is one of authors of the study. She explains that because of Harvey’s historic scale, flooding beyond designated hazard zones is not surprising.

“But it also indicates that we are perhaps misidentifying, or ignoring areas of high risk that are also located out of these zones,” says Sebastian. “So for example, low water crossings or let’s say underpasses under freeways that tend to flood during these extreme events.”

Sebastian says she and fellow researchers examined 70 deaths to better understand what leads to loss of life during floods. So they didn’t just look at where the deaths happened, but why. They found 81 percent of the fatalities were the result of drowning. 

“Many of these were because people were taking risky actions during the hurricane, like driving through high water, or over low water crossings,” explains Sebastian. “And the majority of fatalities were also male[s], who are historically affiliated with more risky activities than females, and that’s been cited in much of the literature as well.”

They also found people 50 years and older were over-represented in the dataset, accounting for 56 percent of deaths. Sebastian says future fatalities could be prevented by increasing flood warnings and risk communication with the public.

Gov. Greg Abbott wants a special election ASAP to fill a congressional seat left vacant by Corpus Christi Republican Blake Farenthold.

From KUT News in Austin, Trey Shaar reports much of the area Farenthold represented in the U.S. House is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

And that’s why Gov. Abbott wants to suspend the rule that says a special election should be on a uniform election date – in this case, next November. Abbott says that’s too long, given the disaster declarations still in effect along the coast and elsewhere. So he asked Attorney General Ken Paxton to weigh in. Can the governor execute his emergency powers to call an election earlier than the rule otherwise would allow? Paxton says if the governor considers this an emergency warranting a special election, a court is likely to agree.

“American Idol” hopeful Ada Vox, a San Antonio drag queen, isn’t going anywhere for at least another week. Vox made it into American Idol’s Top 10 Monday night after an electrifying performance of a “Dreamgirls” hit.

Though “American Idol” voters didn’t pass Vox to the next round after her performance on Sunday, the judges could save contestants last night.

And Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan all opted to keep Vox.