Rescuers began a block-by-block search of tens of thousands of Houston homes Thursday, knocking on doors and shouting as they searched for someone – dead or alive – who might have been left behind in the fetid floods of Harvey, which have now damaged more of 87,000 homes and destroyed nearly 7,000 statewide.
On the other hand, the loss of energy in a chemical plant flooded by a flood caused explosions and a fire, and the city of Beaumont, near the Texas-Louisiana line, lost its public water supply. Remnants of the storm pushed deeper intoland, increasing the risk of floods as far north as Kentucky.
More than 200 firefighters, police officers and members of an urban search and rescue team moved through the Meyerland neighborhood for survivors or organs. They shouted “fire department!” while beating with closed fists in the doors, they looked through the windows and they looked at the neighbors. The streets were dry but crowded with soggy furniture, carpets and wood.
“We do not think we’re going to find any humans, but we’re prepared if we do,” said district chief James Pennington of the Houston Fire Department.
Reuters reported that the death toll was 38.
Unlike what happened during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, crews used GPS devices to search homes that they checked instead of painting X neon on the outside. That avoided alerting potential thieves to vacant homes.
Explosions at the Arkema Inc plant northeast of Houston also lit a 30- to 40-foot flame and sent a black acre of acrid feather that stung his eyes and lungs. The fire died down around noon, but emergency crews stopped because of the danger that eight other trailers containing the same compound could also explode. No serious injuries were reported.