One of the most powerful storms to hit the United States in a decade is currently drenching the Gulf Coast region of Texas. Billions of gallons of water have fallen in affected areas, creating what experts are calling "the worst flood event in 500 years." Hurricane Harvey may break a major record for rainfall in the southeast Texas area, but it's a record that no one wants to be broken.
The National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center tweeted on Sunday night that "local amounts of 50 inch would exceed previous [Texas] rainfall record. Breadth/intensity of rainfall [is] beyond anything experienced." Rainfall across the Houston area was between about 25 and 27 inches depending on the exact location, according to the Weather Channel on Sunday evening. The storm is expected to stick around for several more days and continue dumping water on the flooded city. One area of Houston, Piney Point Village, has already experienced record flooding, and actually surpassed its flood record by more than five feet.
Harvey hit the Texas coast as a Category 4 hurricane on Friday night with maximum wind speeds of 130 miles per hour. The city of Rockport suffered some of the worst damage — the very epicenter of the storm smashed through the small coastal city, bringing down buildings and power lines. The storm has since moved slowly northeast toward the Houston area. An estimated eight million people live in Harvey's path and nearly all of them could be threatened with displacement if the flooding doesn't stop.
More than 2000 water rescues have been performed throughout the affected area as houses and cars quickly sank underwater. At least five people have died in the Houston area from flooding, and that number is very likely to grow as the waters continue to rise over the next several days.
The affected areas already need lots of support from outside the region, and that level of need will undoubtedly increase with the flood gauges. If you can, donate to organizations that are working on relief efforts in Houston and southeast Texas. Many of the most damaged areas are also the most socioeconomically disadvantaged, because the poor have historically been packed into crowded residential areas that don't receive proper drainage. Plus, Houston's poor were less able to evacuate, and they could be in urgent need of medical care due to exposure. This record breaking flood doesn't have to be a total tragedy, so give what you can to help those in need.