Harvey’s legacy will be water, muck and mold

Hurricane Harvey began with raging winds, but its legacy will be water. Seemingly endless, relentlessly insidious water — a staggering 40 inches or more that swamped parts of Houston in just five days.

Harvey scooped tons of water from the sea and hurled it down on the nation’s fourth-largest city, drowning vast swathes of the landscape and battering it with almost a year’s worth of rainfall.

Rooftops became islands poking up through swirling floodwaters. Thousands of houses were destroyed, and tens of thousands more, soaked and pounded by the storm, could face the wrecking ball.

The water — and the muck and mold that follow — will create misery that will linger for years and likely cost tens of billions of dollars all told.

For many of the displaced in southeast Texas, floodwaters stole every possession, leaving them to navigate insurance forms and federal disaster aid applications as they ponder how to even move forward.

The deluge will instill deep anxiety, too, for many who lived through Harvey, and inflict lasting emotional scars on some survivors.

In a storm destined for the history books, it’s the ravages of the water that define the story.

Water saturates

A broken pipe in a house is reason to call a plumber. A house buried in water for weeks could mean it’s time for the demolition crew.

It’s too soon to know how many of more than 37,000 heavily damaged homes in Texas are salvageable, but Houston officials say some will be submerged in water for up to a month. Thousands have already been destroyed in the state. Evacuees are slowly returning to their inundated homes, and others are staying in government-paid hotels .

The longer a house is under water, the greater the damage.

Furniture, refrigerators and other appliances will almost certainly be ruined. Water can compromise or ruin wallboard, electrical systems, insulation, doors, windows and cabinets. Wooden floors warp, swell and can even float away; mold grows in the moist, humid interior, posing the risk of respiratory problems.

For those that can be repaired, civil engineers recommend that after the contaminated water and muck are removed, it’s best to strip out the wallboard and insulation so the house is reduced to the studs, which must be dried before any rebuilding begins.

Steve Cain, a Purdue University extension disaster specialist, offers simple advice:

“You don’t want to be rushing into your home after a flood,” he says. “You want to make sure to go back when it’s safe. … You can fall through a floor, gas lines could be leaking, electrical systems can be damaged and if the electricity is not shut off, you can get electrocuted.”

Water scours

A few inches of rain can snarl traffic. Forty inches or more of water pounding the pavement in less than a week can undermine the streets people drive on every day.

The relentless pressure of water can loosen the foundation of asphalt roads — compacted soil, gravel or sand — leading to cracking and potholes. Pieces of pavement can slide away.

Big bridges will fare better in Texas. They’re likely to escape major damage because the flooding was caused by the gradual rising of water, according to Julio Ramirez, professor of civil engineering at Purdue.

This is in contrast to some other natural disasters. For example, when an earthquake-induced tsunami hits a coastal area, bridges can be weakened when they’re struck by large debris — sometimes even cars and buildings — carried by the force of the giant tidal wave, Ramirez says.

Andy Herrmann, past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, says the great majority of Texas bridges aren’t vulnerable to damage from heavy rains because they’re built on piles or caissons — often hollow pipe filled with concrete.

But the smaller ones that sit on soil or rock, he says, could run into trouble if rapidly moving floodwaters eat away at the foundation, a process known as scouring. If that happens, a bridge could tilt or collapse.

Jeff Lindner, of the Harris County Flood Control District, also says pipelines could be subject to scouring, exposing them and making them more susceptible to breaking.

During the 1994 floods in the Houston area caused by about 20 inches of rain, eight pipelines broke across the San Jacinto basin, spilling almost 1.5 million gallons of oil and petroleum products. Federal officials say more than 500 people suffered injuries, mostly minor burns, when fuel from those pipeline breaks ignited.

Water displaces

New Orleans was transformed by the devastating impact of water from Hurricane Katrina. Now the same thing is happening in Houston, displacing people and businesses and disrupting the local economy.

Experts expect the recovery from Harvey to go far smoother than that of post-Katrina .

“I think Houston will rebound much more gracefully, more quickly than New Orleans,” says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “People aren’t going to leave. It’s a diverse economy.”

Zandi notes that New Orleans’ economy depends almost entirely on tourism and energy, while Houston prospers from health care, transportation, oil refineries and the chemical industry, among others.

Houston is part of a coastal region that supplies nearly a third of U.S. oil-refining capacity. Its port is the nation’s second-busiest. The city is headquarters to 20 Fortune 500 companies. NASA’s Johnson Space Center is also based there.

Houston has 2.3 million people. New Orleans is home to less than 400,000 residents, about 90,000 fewer than pre-Katrina levels.

Though Zandi expects Houston to come back strongly, he says, that depends, in part, on a strong federal disaster aid package. And he adds some people who are thinking of moving to Houston may have reservations because this is the third big storm since 2015.

Moody’s estimates the total economic loss from Katrina at $175 billion and Harvey’s could be as much as $108 billion. But it’s too early to know the full scope of the Texas disaster.

As Zandi says: “It’s a script still being written.”

Water sickens

Long after the danger of drowning subsides, water, oddly enough, can wreak havoc on your health — by forcing you to dry places.

Thousands of Houston area storm survivors who fled flooded homes found refuge in large shelters, but those temporary living quarters can become incubators for infections.

“You have all these people congregated together very closely for prolonged periods of time,” says Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “That’s an ideal circumstance for the spread of respiratory infections.”

Schaffner also warns that evacuees in crowded shelters can develop norovirus, a highly contagious intestinal infection marked by vomiting and diarrhea — an illness that has been known to occur on cruise ships.

New health problems can arise once flood victims return homes. Inside, mold can cause breathing troubles, but that can be avoided by wearing a mask. Outside, standing pools of stagnant water contaminated by chemicals and garbage, become ideal breeding spots for mosquitoes. A bite can have serious consequences.

 

“We worry about West Nile virus, certain kinds of encephalitis viruses,” Schaffner says.

Houston may be able to minimize the risks because it has a strong mosquito abatement program if it can be re-established, according to Schaffner.

Houston’s floodwaters, contaminated by lawn pesticides, spilled fuel and runoff from oil refineries and chemical plants, also pose potential health risks, according to experts. State officials reported several dozen sewer overflows in hurricane-impacted areas, though the public works department in Houston has reported its water is safe.

Another concern are Superfund sites, some of the most polluted places in the nation. The Associated Press surveyed seven of these toxic sites and found all had been inundated with floodwaters. After that report, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state will be working with the Environmental Protection Agency to deal with any possible threats of contamination.

Water haunts

Superstorm Sandy. Katrina. And now Harvey.

The epic disasters in the New York metro area and New Orleans left residents in both places wrestling with the emotional anguish of losing their homes, their livelihoods and their sense of security. The same psychological trauma is likely to emerge in southeast Texas.

Those feelings can linger for years. One study found that residents in the path of Sandy suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress. Another concluded that children displaced by Katrina still had serious emotional or behavioral problems five years later.

Some of the most common stress-related reactions to disasters such as Harvey are anxiety, a change in appetite, insomnia and a sense of uncertainty — a feeling of what’s next, according to Dr. Anita Everett, president of the American Psychiatric Association. Headaches or aches and pains can also surface, she notes.

“It’s a little bit like a grieving process,” Everett says. “We sort of expect that there’s going to be waves of worry, waves of anxiety and that’s all within the normal experience.” But she says that those who are struggling three months after a disaster and can’t work or make decisions may want to seek professional help.

Being in a large shelter, though, can boost the spirits of storm survivors because they can share stories and turn to each other for support, Everett says.

“You get a really strong sense of a community that’s coming together and working together to rise to the occasion … Humans are amazingly resilient.”

ad-high_impact_4
News
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Bicyclist suffers major head trauma in hit-and-run
A bicyclist was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a Thursday morning hit-and-run crash near the school formerly known as Agassi Prep. Police said the bicyclist was hit by a white SUV, which fled the scene. The injured man suffered multiple injuries including major head trauma. As of 9 a.m., Lake Mead remained closed between Martin Luther King and Revere Street while police investigate.
Las Vegas artist Dave Dave dies at 42
Dave Dave talks about his art and his life in 2016. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dave Dave, whose dad set him on fire in 1983, dies
Dave Dave, a respected Las Vegas artist who was badly scarred as a boy when his father tried to burn him to death in Southern California, died at Sunrise Hospital on July 15. He was 42. When he was 6, Dave's father tried to kill him by setting him on fire. He was given a sleeping pill and his bed at a Buena Park, California, motel was doused with kerosene. “I remembered being in a lot of pain,” Dave told the Review-Journal in 2016. “When stuff happens to you at that young of an age, you tend to block it out, but I remember the pain was excruciating.” Dave, who was born David Rothenberg, became close friends with Michael Jackson, who met him after the attack, which burned more than 90 percent of his body. “I wanted to meet him, and he wanted to meet me, and that just turned into a lifelong relationship that never ended,” Dave said. “It was amazing being friends with Michael Jackson. He was an amazing person.” Dave attended ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and collaborated with various artists around Las Vegas, eventually selling his art to private collectors. Despite his challenges, he continued to live, thrive and create. Dave Dave
Homicide detectives investigate woman's death
Las Vegas police were called to Tahiti Village Resort early Wednesday after calls that someone had been shot. Police found a woman’s body between a parking garage and boiler room on the resort's property. A guest first reported hearing gunfire. There are no witnesses, but police will examine surveillance videos and look for clues. The woman was not identified, but a purse was found near the body. She did not appear to be a guest at the resort.
LVMPD Discusses Ross Dress for Less Shooting
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank discussed the 15th officer-involved shooting of the year at a press conference at Metro headquarters on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The active-shooter incident took place at the Ross Dress for Less store at the 4000 block Blue Diamond Road in the south Las Vegas Valley. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County School Board president Deanna Wright on travel expenses
Clark County School Board President Deanna Wright says she followed proper expense protocol in trip to Florida last year.
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Shooting leaves 1 dead in southeast valley
A man was found fatally shot in the doorway of a squatter apartment after an argument ended in gunfire on Sunday night. Officers responded about 10:30 p.m. to the Silver Pines apartments and discovered the man in a breezeway in one of the buildings. The wounded man died at the scene, despite the efforts of another person, who tried to administer medical aid. Witnesses saw a man and a woman flee the scene, but were unable to give police a clear description.
North Las Vegas unveils new school crosswalk
North Las Vegas councilman Isaac Barron talks about the new school crosswalk in front of CP Squires Elementary School Monday, August 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
LVMPD Briefing on OIS #13
Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly held a press conference to discuss details of the 13th officer-involved-shoot for the department in 2018. Video shows the moments before the suspect was shot. The shooting, which has been edited out, occurred as the suspect lunged at an officer outside the apartment. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sedan and semitrailer collide in south Las Vegas
An early Wednesday morning crash has left one person in critical condition. A sedan and semitrailer collided around 4 a.m. at the corner of Spencer Street and Serene Avenue. Police do not believe impairment is a factor in the crash. Spencer has been blocked off north of Serene while police continue their investigation.
Cybersecurity Professionals Flock to Las Vegas for Black Hat
Black Hat USA, the largest annual cybersecurity conference, is expecting a record 17,000 attendees during its six-day run at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center this week. One thing attendees have in mind is making sure they don't get hacked while they're there. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police chase ends with suspects captured in east Las Vegas
An early Tuesday morning chase ended with a car crash in an east Las Vegas neighborhood. Police were pursuing the vehicle, which they say was involved in robberies in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, when the driver crashed at Owens and Statz Street. A man was taken into custody. A woman was ejected from a vehicle and taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The intersection at Mojave Road and Owens Avenue was shut down while police officers searched for the suspect and investigated. The intersection will remain closed for most of the morning.
Record number participate in Touro University Nevada White Coat Ceremony
Three hundred sixty-five medical students received their white coats during the Touro University Nevada White Coat Ceremony at the M Resort in Henderson Monday. The ceremony was developed to honor students in osteopathic medicine, physician assistant studies, nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy as they accept the professional responsibilities inherent in their relationship with patients. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stop for school buses, urges CCSD
Clark County School District Police Department hold a mock traffic stop at Centennial High School in Las Vegas, Monday, Aug. 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Work Begins at Las Vegas Community Healing Garden
Crews moved the wooden Remembrance Wall at the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden on South Casino Center Boulevard Monday. Construction on a permanent wall is set to begin within the week. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Man wounded outside Cottages apartment
Las Vegas police don't have a motive after a man was shot early Monday morning outside a northwest valley apartment. The man's mother called police to say her son had been shot. She called police around 1:15 a.m. Other people were inside the apartment but no one else was injured. Police are still looking for the shooter.
Ride new Interstate 11 segment in one minute
Interstate 11 opens to the public Thursday, providing sweeping views of Lake Mead, art deco-style bridges and a mural illustrating the construction of Hoover Dam. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Miss El Tiempo 2019
Miss Teen El Tiempo and Miss El Tiempo 2019 were crowned at Sam's Town Saturday, August 4, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Las Vegas Woman Raises Awareness for Anxiety and Depression
Cassi Davis was diagnosed with anxiety and depression after the birth of her second child. After seeking help and support, she felt that there wasn't enough for support for those living day in and day out for those with mood disorders. She created the Crush Run, set for Sept. 22, to raise money for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and bring together a community of people who live with the same conditions she does. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
North Las Vegas marks the opening of Tropical Parkway connector
The City of North Las Vegas, Nevada Department of Transportation and other partners celebrated the opening of the Tropical Parkway connector to Interstate 15 and the Las Vegas Beltway. The stretch of road will make access easier for distribution centers for Amazon, Sephora and other companies moving into an 1,100-acre industrial area rising near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bighorn sheep with West Temple in background at Zion National Park
A bighorn sheep walks through Zion National Park (National Park Service)
Adult Superstore location closes after 45 years
The Adult Superstore on Main Street has closed its doors for good after 45 years. The shop, which offered a multitude of adult toys, novelty items and movies, opened in 1973. Four other locations remain open. A note on the front door tells customers, “We can’t fully express our sorrow.” Adult Superstore was awarded Best of Las Vegas adult store by the Review-Journal in 2016 and 2017 .
Funeral held for Las Vegas corrections officer
Department of Public Safety Correctional Officer Kyle Eng died July 19 after a fight with an inmate at the Las Vegas Jail. A funeral was held for Eng at Canyon Ridge Christian Church Monday, July 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What Back-To-School Shopping Is Like For a CCSD Parent and Teacher
Laura LeBowsky, a CCSD special education teacher and mother of two, set out to shop for her children's supply lists at her local Walmart and Target. She was looking for deals to try to keep the total under $150, while also allowing Chloe, 8, and Brady, 6, some choice in what they wanted. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Businesses struggle to fill food manufacturing jobs
Chelten House is a family-owned food manufacturing company from New Jersey. They created a facility in Vegas five years ago and have struggled to find experienced workers in the area. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LeBron heckler crosses line, altercation erupts
NBA superstar LeBron James, his wife, Savannah, and daughter Zhuri were at Liberty High School to watch Bronny James in action Wednesday night. But an unruly fan wearing a Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey heckled the newest Los Angeles Laker. The man screamed at event security with LeBron and his family about 150 feet away. The man had to be restrained, triggering a brief altercation with security. James and his family were escorted out a side door along with Bronny's team, the North Coast Blue Chips. Event officials canceled the game between the Blue Chips and Nike Meanstreets.
Las Vegas Oddities Shop in Downtown Las Vegas
Las Vegas Oddities shop owner Vanessa VanAlstyne describes what's for sale in one of the weirder and wackier stores in Downtown Las Vegas. The store opened less than a year ago and carries everything from human bones to "rogue" taxidermy to Victorian death photography. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like