Hurricane Harvey Causes Catastrophic Flooding in Houston and Damage on Texas Coast, Interview with Houston Deaf People Impacted by Harvey, U.S. Navy Announces Recovery of Remains of 10 Missing Soldiers, Trump Pardons Sheriff Arapio, Trump Signs Transgender Military Ban, Trump Allows Police Easier Access to Military Gear, and “It’s a Deaf Thing!” Event Promotion
Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Monday, August 28. Ready for news?
Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, has caused catastrophic flooding in the Houston area and there will be even more flooding as the storm is poised to return southwards the gulf today, possibly become stronger, and return back to Houston on Wednesday. There are already record rainfall and flood levels, and even more water will fall, possibly reaching 50 inches of rain in just a week.
While at the Corpus Christi area — specifically in Rockport and Port Aransas — there is widespread wind and water damage from the eye of Harvey as it hit the area with 130 mph winds. There is no power there (hundreds of downed power lines), no water, and no telephone service. There are many gas leaks. The cities are “shut down” — not allowing the public to come in.
There have been at least five storm-related deaths from the storm. One man died in a house fire in Rockport while the hurricane was raging through. One woman died in Houston from being trapped in a flooded car — when she got out, she was overwhelmed by water and drowned. One man in Houston died from floodwaters on Saturday night and there are two more dead in Galveston county (unclear how they died). Very sad.
There were evacuation orders for Rockport and Port Aransas, but there were many people who decided to stay and ride out the storm. They said it sounded like a freight train, their homes or buildings rocked back and forth like a rollercoaster. One said it felt like Wizard of Oz. Many were very sad to see their city devastated. Officials and FEMA say the recovery process will be several years.
While in Houston, as the storm was approaching last weekend, the mayor there decided not to order evacuations because he was concerned about putting over 6 million people on the road — he thought it would cause even more problems. So many people stayed behind in Houston, and when the worst winds of Harvey subsided, all seemed to be “okay.”
But as the rains continued to pelt the city with Harvey moving only 2 mph and staying in the area, the water started to rise steadily and that’s forced many to call for help and be rescued.
Many in Houston and Galveston County were shocked at the levels of water and were trapped in their homes when the waters started to rise on their streets, disabling their vehicles and throwing the power out.
The Houston 911 area reported they got over 56,000 911 calls from Saturday night until Sunday afternoon. On an average day they get 8,000 calls. Houston police say they’ve rescued more than 2,000 people.
There are many pictures on social media of neighborhoods flooded, people wading through waters, even of a nursing home with people in wheelchairs seeing waters rise up to their waists.
It’s prompted a call for the “Cajun Navy” — for civilians in the Houston/Galveston area to use their personal watercraft (jet-skis, speedboats, fishing boats) to go house to house and rescue people. It’s really stunning to see the flooding over major highways with semi trucks frozen in water. And to think that there’s more rain to come, it’s just heartbreaking for the thousands of people who have their lives impacted.
Officials in Houston will have to make hard decisions to release waters flooding in various reservoirs/dams — to allow water to flow into already-flooded neighborhoods in order to protect the dams, downtown Houston, and a ship channel from flooding.
In the Austin area, where I’m at, there has been constant raining and some flooding, but nothing as serious as Houston. However in several counties east of Austin, there is serious flooding along the Colorado River and evacuations have been ordered. So a lot of local flooding in central Texas, and that includes the San Antonio area.
There are 30,000 people in southeastern Texas that will need temporary shelters and thousands more that will have damaged homes. Schools in the area are closed. The two main airports, Bush and Hobby, are closed and might stay closed until Wednesday.
President Trump has signed a federal disaster declaration for cities impacted in Texas (allowing federal resources to be available to the state) and will visit the state on Tuesday, but has not yet announced which city specifically. Trump said he didn’t want to go to the hardest-hit areas as to not cause a distraction (with the security and preparations needed for such a visit). So he might go somewhere outside of Houston or here in Austin, we’ll see. He has been tweeting often about Harvey, saying it is a major storm and encouraging rescuers and citizens.
There are still rescues in Houston as waters continue to rise, and it is a very dangerous situation over there. The entire Texas National Guard has been activated to help. There are now 12,000 total guardsmen helping people in Texas.
More updates about Harvey tomorrow.
Alex: I reached out to the Houston Association of the Deaf (HAD) to ask them about the Harvey storm. There were some Deaf people impacted. See this interview.
Darla: Hello, I’m Darla Connor from Houston, TX. I’m the president of HAD and a deaf services organization named Houston Center for Independent Living. My experience with the storm was terrible, with lighting and flooding around where I live. The waters have not reached here, but they are increasing and I’m watching it. I still have my phone signal and the power is still on so far. It is a little better but it is still raining and Harvey has not yet hit Houston yet, so we’re watching that.
I also started the “Deaf Hurricane Harvey Survivors Group. If anybody needs help we will work together to help them. As soon as I started the page, there were three people who needed help — a Deaf person with cerebral palsy, another Deaf man, and a hearing senior citizen. Those three are together and need help, they say they can’t reach out to 911 and have to wait for a long time for a reply and have not gotten any. I’ve tried to help them out by leaving a message and I’m waiting too.
[Darla connected me to two Deaf men waiting for rescue in Houston.]
Michael: My name is Michael Giddens. I’m from Houston. I live in the southeast area near south belt by the Beltway 8 intersection with 45. There was serious flooding yesterday and some water came through the door.
So I decided to call 911 but I had no luck. They were busy all day and I called several times with no answer. We finally connected yesterday afternoon but they say they couldn’t make it. I tried calling again this morning. We posted on Facebook to spread the word to see if anybody could help.
[Facebook post by Michael: “We need boat rescue 3 disability, I am deaf with cerebral palsy also can't swim. Senior Citizen 75 yo with polio also medicine condition, and he is deaf adult usher syndrome with diabetic... we don't have transport please help my address is 11230 Sagehaven Drive Houston TEXAS 77089 United States.”]
Michael: I’m worried because there’s going to be a second round of the hurricane that might cause more flooding. I can’t swim so I need to be rescued. There is another Deaf person here, do you want to explain?
Wayne Taliaferro: When the storm came, I had no shoes (I’m diabetic) and I’m worried about getting cut on my feet with glass or other things. My roommate who lives next door is hearing and has polio. He can’t move, can’t go to the bathroom. We called 911 and was placed on a waiting list, we are not a priority because water is not chest-high. We waited for two days in a row without anybody coming.
Alex: You can’t get out of the house? There’s flooding around?
Wayne: Yes, on one side it’s closed. On another side — I’m south of 45. If you see on news, my friend (O.D.) — it’s completely flooded with 17 feet. That’s real close to here. On the other side it is downtown and blocked off. I can’t exit in either direction.
Alex: Do you have enough food, water?
Wayne: We have enough for two days.
Wayne: Yes, but our TV and computer was destroyed from the water. It’s gone. I can only use my phone to make calls.
Alex: It is your goal to be rescued before Wednesday, right?
Wayne: Yes. We might be hit twice, or less. But we can’t make predictions. We are concerned. We don’t know.
Alex: So it is you three and your neighbor that can’t get ahold of rescue services?
Alex: What were your initial feelings when the storm came? Did this take you by surprise?
Wayne: Yes. We saw that it would hit Corpus Christi. We thought that was okay, it’d go up to your area (Austin). But it turned around and went to Houston, surprising us. There was no evacuation order. Well, Houston already went through Rita again. I’ve experienced Rita, Ike, both were bad, but this is the worst that I’ve ever had. I’ve never experienced flooding. I don’t know what is in the water. One mile from here there’s a sewage plant that is spreading. We need to leave. That’s why we are concerned.
Alex: What is your plan if the water continue to rise? Will you go up?
Wayne: Yes we will go up, but I’m the only one who can swim. My roommate and neighbor can’t swim. I’m risking myself too, I have diabetes and am trying to avoid getting cut. We have to make a plan. We don’t have a ladder. We are discussing and making plans. It’s a little scary but we have to continue with making plans.
Alex: What will you do when you get out?
Wayne: Stay in a shelter. And then we will file with the FEMA to have the home fixed, but it has to be after the storm has receded. We are on a 911 waiting list and also with the Cajun Navy with their waiting list. They are focusing on the areas impacted by the recent water release from a dam. So we are still here.
Alex: You’ll have to ration your food.
Wayne: Yes, we are limiting it to last.
[The two Deaf men are still waiting for their rescue. Their address is: 11230 Sagehaven Drive Houston TEXAS 77089]
Donna: I’m surprised to see many interpreters on the news, they’re always assigning an interpreter all the time. That’s good to get updates on warnings, whether to evacuate, or to stay. We’re watching the interpreters and the Facebook group. Harvey is unpredictable, it could go anywhere and trick us. We didn’t expect Harvey to go up and down and around Houston. So we have to stay prepared, pack food, have food for dog, stay in touch with others, and work in solidarity.
The U.S. Navy announced they’ve found the bodies/remains of all of the 10 missing sailors from the USS John McCain accident. Navy divers went through various flooded parts of the ship and found them.
Their ages were from 20 to 39 and they were junior servicemen who worked in electronics or communications.
The ship is docked in Singapore as the crash is being investigated. The Navy will then make a decision on what to do with the ship. It was hit by an oil tanker Alnic MC on August 21.
The confirmation that 10 sailors died from this accident is another blow to the Navy, who went through a similar accident with another ship in June that caused 7 to die. The Navy recently removed a Vice Admiral and have vowed to determine what caused the accidents and learn from them to make changes.
President Trump made three major decisions last weekend that is causing a lot of controversy: he pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio, he signed a transgender military ban, and allowed police to buy more military gear.
1 - On Friday night, while Hurricane Harvey was about to hit Texas, the White House announced that Trump would grant a full pardon to Joe Arpaio (85), former Phoenix-area sheriff. He was convicted of contempt of court for refusing to stop his program of targeting Latinx/Hispanic people and detaining them to check if they were undocumented immigrants, establishing tent cities to detain them, and forcing them to be chained to each other.
But Trump has welcomed Arpaio, who is still popular with many people in Arizona, on the campaign trail as both have similar views on immigration. Trump said Arpaio was an American patriot who kept Arizona safe. But both Arizona Senators (Republicans McCain and Flake) criticized Trump, saying Trump didn’t respect law and justice. Several Democrat Congressmen said Trump pardoned a man who violated the Constitution, was discriminatory, and someone who ignored a court order. Various POC organizations said it was racism.
Arpaio thanked Trump for the pardon and said his conviction of contempt of court was a political witch hunt by the Obama justice department.
2 - On Friday, Trump signed a memo to stop funding medical treatments for current transgender military members and barred the military from accepting any openly transgender individuals. It is possible that in the future, current transgender military members will be removed if the Defense Sec. Mattis considers them unable to deploy. The military now has 6 months to develop a plan.
This received a lot of criticism from current transgender service members, LGBT veterans and LGBT/human rights organizations. Two organizations are suing the Trump administration in federal court.
3 - Trump will sign an executive order to allow the U.S. military to give police department access to high-caliber weapons, armored vehicles, and surplus military gear.
This program was reduced in 2015 by previous President Obama after the Ferguson, Missouri protests — at the time there was wide criticism of how the police looked with military gear, especially with unarmed protesters.
At that time, many police departments criticized Obama, saying they needed the equipment to deal with criminal threats. Today with Trump’s order, they will get what they want — access to advanced and military-grade equipment.
Fred Beam: Hello!
I want to let you know..what’s going on?
A Deaf Expo will happen in Lakeland, FL on September 30, 2017.
This is coming soon! What’s it called?
Let me sign it in English: “It’s A Deaf Thing”
Now in ASL: “It’s A Deaf Thing”
So, what’s happening there?
We will have entertainment, booths, small workshops and many other things going on!
Guess what?? I’m going to MC the event. Who am I?
I’m Fred Beam. I will host (MC) there and introduce all of the events.
Also! There will be a special appearance by Sunshine 2.0. It used to be called Sunshine Too, but that was closed and rebuilt as Sunshine 2.0. They’ll be doing a show there!
Maybe you think this will be expensive? No! Tickets are free! Just go to the website: www.itsadeafthing.com and you will find more information there.
I hope to see you there!!!
That is all for today. More news tomorrow. Stay with the light!