Hurricane Harvey swept over East Texas this week leaving a path of destruction in its wake. The United States fourth biggest city, Houston, suffered damaging floods leaving more than 30,000 people without homes.
More than 40 people have died in Hurricane related deaths and that number may rise as the flood waters stay high. All of Beaumont's 180,000 residents are without running water after both the city's pumps failed.
Reports are now emerging about a possible toxic leak from a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas. Black flames were seen at the site that was damaged by the intense downfall. Officials have confirmed the smoke is a toxic irritant and residents in close proximity to the plant have been evacuated.
Hurricane Harvey has caused one-fifth of U.S oil refineries to shut down. The largest refinery in the U.S, Motiva Enterprises plant in Port Arthur, Texas was shut due to flooding. Gasoline prices have hit their highest price since July 2015. In response to fears of fuel shortage, the Department of Energy will send 500,000 barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to the Phillips 66 (PSX) refinery in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The refinery, which is one of the few in the area to survive flooding damage, reportedly requested the release of the emergency oil to make supply demand.
The hurricane officially set the U.S record for the highest amount of rainfall for a from a tropical system. Robert Hebert, a senior county administrator, described the downpour, “A flood of this magnitude is an 800-year event and it exceeds the design specifications of our levees and is potentially dangerous for a good portion of Fort Bend County. A 59 ft river level threatens to overtop many of the levees in our area.”
Politicians have headed to Texas to survey the damage. President Trump visited mid-week and is expected to be back Saturday. The president was criticized for his lack of empathy. Several pundits and fellow Republicans noted that he treated a meeting with survivors of the natural disaster like a campaign rally. "What a crowd, what a turnout," Trump said to the assembled crowd.
The president then tweeted that he had witnessed the horror and devastation “first hand.” Whitehouse officials later corrected the statement, saying Trump had met with officials inside government offices, rather than personally touring affected areas at the time of the tweet.
Recently-released drone footage gives a heartbreaking insight into the damage caused by the hurricane.
The footage shows highways turned into rivers and houses decimated by the rising flood waters. Technology has played a huge role in the reporting of the Hurricane. Both professional and amateur drone pilots have been taking footage and sending to news media outlets. It is unclear whether any of the footage has yet to be used strategically by authorities. But we assume as the storm officially passes and the huge clean up begins, drones will play a major role in damage assessment.