By August 29, 2017 Read More →

Hurricane Harvey: Not just in Texas

By BROOKE GRIFFIN

The Parthenon

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas this past Friday evening around 11 p.m. What many West Virginia residents didn’t know was that this catastrophic storm was going to affect some of their friends and neighbors too.

Marine Safety Unit Huntington launching boats to use for rescues.
(Submitted photo)

When the information and stories of devastation started flooding into the public just as quickly as the rushing waters in the central southern part of the country, military units from all over the country wanted to know how to help. This is where the state of West Virginia has stepped up to help in Texas’ time of need.

Marine Safety Unit Huntington, the Barboursville Coast Guard detachment, got word of how much help was needed. MSU Huntington sent a team of six people and a Western Rivers Flood Punt package on Sunday to Houston to begin search and rescue efforts.

By Monday morning, they had already rescued 65 people from the location they were stranded at. The Coast Guard as a whole has rescued over 2,300 people over the weekend.

With almost 50 inches of rain accumulating in some areas, Chief Warrant Officer Chris Blank said “the Coast Guard is committed to the safety and preservation of life and will remain deployed until demobilized.”

He said that some rescue efforts take longer than others. Some take a few days or some can take up to two weeks. Hurricane Harvey is an entirely new situation because of its mass amount of rain that has stalled over the area.

To put into perspective how massive the flooding is in the main target areas such as Houston, Texas, one can compare their flooding to the historic flooding that West Virginia saw in the summer of 2016. Tony Cavalier, a meteorologist at WSAZ News Channel 3, said that the amount of flooding they have had so far in just the past three days is five to six times more than the total flooding overall that even the most devastated cities in West Virginia saw.

With the rain predicted to continue through Thursday, many Texan’s are having to stay evacuated from their homes for an extended amount of time. When the rain does stop, as many as 50,000 people will not have a home to go back to.

When talking about the MSU Huntington team that was sent to Texas for relief and rescue missions, Chief Blank said that “The size of the incident is an unprecedented response; we aren’t sure exactly what we will encounter.”

With Hurricane Harvey being the first hurricane since Charley of 2004 to make landfall as a category four hurricane, many people were not fully prepared for its impact. The MSU Huntington team has never been sent to anything near this magnitude according to Chief Blank and the people of Texas were not expecting this level of catastrophe. With the citizens being unprepared and the Coast Guard doing the best they can, every day promises to bring new challenges.

Chief Blank said he is not sure when the team will return to West Virginia; it will possibly be weeks from now. The rain may subside on Thursday, but dedicated West Virginia hearts and bodies will be saving victims of Hurricane Harvey for days and weeks to come.

Brooke Griffin can be contacted at griffin58@marshall.edu.

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