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Flooding concerns compound as rainfall continues
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southeast Texas Friday night, causing devasting damage and flooding throughout the region, including the Houston metropolitan area.
The National Weather Service described the hurricane-turned-tropical storm as “epic and catastrophic." Rain continued throughout the weekend and into Monday as the slow-moving storm hovered over the region, with some localities reporting 24 in. or more of rain. The National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have mobilized to aid the Houston area during the flooding. The hurricane resulted in at least three deaths and displaced hundreds of families, many of whom took shelter in the George R. Brown Convention Center.
As floodwaters continue to rise, so do concerns over contaminated floodwaters and access to clean drinking water.
Wastewater treatment plants and sewers may become indundated, resulting in raw sewage mixing with floodwaters. In College Station, Texas, 12-in. of rainfall resulted in an estimated 100,000 gal of wastewater overflowing, according to a report from The Battalion. The city urged those with private wells near the site to use distilled or boiled water until further notice.
Several companies have initiated efforts to help provide clean drinking water to hurricane victims, such as PepsiCo and Anheuser Busch, which announced on Monday it had halted beer production to instead can drinking water.
According to data from the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, the flooding is unlikely to recede until Thursday, almost one week since Harvey struck the Texas coast. Inland, river levels are projected to climb through Wednesday as officials expect more rainfall. Zetterstrom urged the public to listen to local emergency management officials as public safety is the greatest concern.
The storm is heading east, putting Lousiana at risk of flooding prompting President Donald J. Trump to declared a state of emergency for that state as well, the Washington Post reported. The declaration will allow FEMA to begin coordinating relief efforts in Louisiana.