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Harvey Causes Widespread Devastation In Areas Of Texas


President Trump has now declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, as tropical storm Harvey moves east from Texas. That will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to coordinate response to any damage that the storm might cause in that state. FEMA is already working around the clock in Texas, where the tropical storm is now stalled over Houston and surrounding communities. That area has been hit by unprecendented flooding. And FEMA says more than 30,000 people are expected to be housed in shelters. My co-host David Greene is on the ground reporting from Texas this morning.


Hey, there, Rachel. Yeah, we came in here last night. We had to drive in from Dallas because of the airport situation in Houston. It was just - it was a surreal drive. I mean, it was - there was not rain in the beginning. There was this beautiful rainbow. And then you started to get within two hours or so of Houston, the bands of rain just started coming and the tornado warnings. And this city, it has gone through so much in the past hours - I mean, houses flooded and destroyed, people have been rescued from their rooftops and by boats on flooded streets. I just want to play a few of the voices from the city.

JADA WILSON: Once the water started seeping into the house, there was no way we could leave.

SHIRELLE FRANKLIN: We're blessed all the way, but just not knowing what we're going to walk into when this is all over with is very overwhelming.

JACOBY ROSS: I prepare well. I expected the worst, so - and it happened (laughter).

GREENE: The worst did seem to happen for many people. That was Jacoby Ross, Shirelle Franklin, and Jada Wilson speaking there. And let's bring in another voice now. NPR's Jeff Brady has been in Houston, riding out all of this and talking to people. He is - I believe, Jeff, you're downtown, about 20 miles from where we are on the north of Houston, right?

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: I'm on the other side of the city. I'm on a - southeast of downtown, near the Johnson Space Center. And looking outside right now, it's doing pretty much what it's been doing in the last couple of days. It's raining very heavily. They're predicting up to 50 inches of rain in some areas, still. And that's...

GREENE: Fifty - and we should say, 50 is not a number you hear that often when talking about potential rainfall.

BRADY: Yeah, that is 4 feet, 2 inches. That is a huge amount of water. It would certainly be the - it's going to set records all over the place around here.

GREENE: What about these rescues we've been hearing about? I mean, some of the stories sound so dramatic - people going up to their attic and then going up onto their rooves to try and get away from flooding. I mean, there are people who've been in their cars. Are those rescues still going, as of this morning?

BRADY: They are still going on. There was a Coast Guard briefing last night. The Coast Guard has 19 of those bright orange helicopters buzzing around and plucking people off of rooves and cars like you mentioned. And they said that they have a backlog of people requesting evacuations. They've been prioritizing people who are - you know, whose lives are in danger or who are very ill. And there is no estimate right now of when all those rescues are going to be finished - when they're going to work through that backlog of calls they're receiving.

GREENE: Almost extraordinary that it's - I mean, it's just a handful of confirmed deaths right now - and something that obviously has been some level of relief, that the numbers have not been worse. I mean, as you've been talking to residents of Houston, what are your impressions of how they're doing?

BRADY: You know, a lot of people who have been rescued, they're just stunned. I mean, they're - they may not even remember some of what they're experiencing right now later on. It's just kind of blank looks. And some people are still looking for their family. People have lost everything. And then there are other people who really took forecasters seriously and evacuated before the storm.

I talked with Geraldine Mason. She's 70 years old. And on Sunday, she went back to her house. And she couldn't even reach her house because there was so much water in the neighborhood. But she says she's happy she left before the storm.

GERALDINE MASON: ...Because we would have no way of getting out in either direction (laughter) because we - as you can see, we are right across the street from the bay, so, you know, well, our faith will just get us through it. It is what it is.

GREENE: Faith will get us through it, she said. That was Geraldine Mason of Nassau Bay, Texas, talking to our colleague Jeff Brady, who's in Houston. Jeff, thank you.

BRADY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jeff Brady is a National Desk Correspondent based in Philadelphia, where he covers the mid-Atlantic region and energy issues. Brady helped establish NPR's environment and energy collaborative which brings together NPR and Member station reporters from across the country to cover the big stories involving the natural world.
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