- Written by Jacqueline Havelka
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner visited Fosters Mill in Kingwood Monday, Sept. 4, and reassured residents that the city is getting a lot of help from everywhere.
San Antonio Solid Waste vehicles traveled to the area late Sunday night and began debris pickup in the Barrington, Fosters Mill and Kings Point subdivisions. The trucks were being greatly hindered by parked cars along the streets; the cars were hindering access to the huge debris piles. Turner and City Councilman Dave Martin urged folks to put cars in driveways or even in yards to get them off the street.
Turner also said that law enforcement officers from San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, El Paso and Colorado are all in town with more to follow.
“We have a lot of support from all over. Houstonians are a special breed; we’re all pulling together,” Turner said.
Residents asked about things such as how they would get their mail since mailboxes are destroyed, and also asked the mayor if mobile tetanus shots were a possibility.
“Absolutely, those medical units will be out here tomorrow,” promised Turner.
Residents also expressed frustration to the mayor regarding issues with insurance companies and price gouging by rental car companies, and asked for support with traffic issues and communications.
Turner also reassured residents that the water system is perfectly safe. City Councilman Dave Martin said that Kingwood water comes from well water and not from Lake Houston. Martin praised Turner’s support of the Kingwood area, stating that when the storm hit, the mayor had more police, boats and helicopters in the Kingwood area than in any other area of Houston. Turner said that the city is moving as quickly as it possibly can.
Turner said that the city is ramping up contractors, and that he has asked FEMA for a large advance to add a lot of contractors that will show up in the next few days. Turner estimates the cleanup cost alone for the city will be around $200 to $300 million. Turner referred residents to FEMA Rapid Repair Housing that provides some initial stopgap funding to get houses habitable, so people can live in them while staging the larger repairs.
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- Written by Community Reports
The unimaginable devastation in the Lake Houston area not only affected homeowners, but several businesses as well.
The Lake Houston Family YMCA on West Lake Houston Parkway was in the path of the raging floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey. It received six to eight feet of water throughout the facility and is currently assessing the situation and receiving expert guidance on how to best proceed with the recovery. The facility will keep the community updated on its progress. In the interim, all members of the Lake Houston Family YMCA are welcome to use any YMCA in the Greater Houston area.
King's Harbor was decimated, including local favorites such as Berry Bar, Sharky's and Zammitti's. Raffa's Waterfront Grill, owned by Tony Raffa, has a Gofundme account set up with a goal of raising $50,000 (gofundme.com/harvey-raffas-waterfront-grill). Dapper Darlings Boutique had their grand opening only two weeks earlier. Visit facebook.com/KingsHarbor for more information.
The Kingwood branch of the Harris County Library lost the contents of its first floor, where the children's section is.
Alspaugh's Hardware Store had four feet of water in it, but with a lot of hard work was able to reopen on Monday, Sept. 4.
All of the businesses in Town Center were flooded, including the Town Center Apartments.
Randall's shopping center and its businesses were under water, including the nearby Chik-Fil-A. Three B's Grill is currently selling vinyl decals for cars at $5 with all proceeds going back to the restaurant to get it up and running again. They are already in the process of rebuilding and hope to be open in two weeks. Call Kristy Brown at 713-822-0261 to order a decal.
The new H-E-B store, which opened less than a year ago, stayed open until 3 p.m. on August 27 to help people stock up on supplies. It too was flooded, along with dozens of businesses including the Memorial Hermann Convenient Care Center which was scheduled to open at the start of this month. The hospital estimates that it will take six to eight months to repair the facility.
Kingwood and Deerwood Country Clubs
The Kingwood and Deerwood Country Clubs and the houses along the golf course were no match for the rapidly raising waters of the storm.
Forest Cove is no stranger to flood damage, and the businesses along Hamblen Road were destroyed after being underwater for days. Among these are Smart Stop, Jack's Grocery, Chiron Communications and ZZ Gator's. Kingwood Cove Golf Course still has standing water on the course.
The damage extended to Humble, with Main Event, Costco and Humble Golf Center deluged by the San Jacinto River. Target, Kohl's and Taco Cabana are also closed until further notice.
But many, many businesses have stepped up in force to help.
To the rescue
Cherrie and Daniel LeDoux, owners of A Grand Affair, a catering company, provided comfort by feeding up to 150 first responders three meals a day for six days while they were stationed at HFD Station 102, wading through standing water at times to get there. Cherrie then hosted a popup kitchen at HAAM in Humble for three days, giving hot meals to anyone who came. On Labor Day, she set up at Foster's Mill pool and cooked lunch for 300 people who were in cleanup mode.
Gold's Gym is offering a free, one-week trial for members of gyms closed due to Harvey. Lifetime Fitness is waiving its initiation fee. Hunan Garden Restaurant is offering free food until they run out. West Lake Houston Automotive is among the businesses offering help, and advises those with flooded vehicles not to start their cars, but to call them at 281-916-1976 for a free assessment over the phone. On Sept. 5, The Overlook served a free dinner for all those affected in Atascocita South. Great Harvest Bread in Kingwood is offering a free loaf of bread to all flood victims. Tusca Italian Grill also provided a complimentary dinner for all first responders. Nico's Bar and Grill on Loop 494 will be hosting a benefit Saturday, Sept. 9 and is accepting donations for local shelters. During the month of September, Wal-Mart customers who use the Walmart2Walmart money transfer service through the Wal-Mart Express Money Services feature on the Wal-Mart app will not pay a fee. They are waiving this fee so those who want to can send money domestically to Harvey victims.
These are just a few of the local companies who have stepped up, even as they are recovering from the storm themselves. Kingwood is a resilient community, and will continue to come together in the upcoming days to rebuild and become stronger than ever.
- Written by Community Reports
39.72 inches of rainfall that fell in southeast Texas from Thursday through early Monday
21,000 federal workers are being mobilized, including those already in Texas.
14,000 National Guard soldiers have been mobilized.
Of the total Department of Homeland Security employees, 3,500 FEMA workers are in Texas; 700 Coast Guard soldiers; and 550 Customs Border Patrol officers are mobilized.
The Coast Guard is handling the overflow of 911 calls in Houston.
Estimates of calls coming in were as high as 900 per hour, but now around 500 per hour. There is an uptick in calls from Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange.
Major disaster declarations have been made in 30 Texas counties and five Louisiana parishes.
Texans affected by mandatory evacuation: 779,000.
Texans affected by voluntary evacuation: 980,000.
In Louisiana: 7,000 mandatory; 133,000 voluntary evacuees.
The Coast Guard reports it saved 3,000 lives.
Estimates of 200,000 customers in Texas and 11,000 customers in Louisiana are or were without power. Customer defined is as anything with a meter, not a human.
120,000 residents are without water in Beaumont.
1961 The last time a Category 4 hurricane, Carla, made landfall in the Texas Coastal Bend.
- Written by Community Reports
KOUNTZE, Texas, September 5, 2017– We are pleased to report that the Big Thicket National Preserve Visitor Center has reopened to the public. Today we have begun distributing Hunting Permits for the 2017-18 hunting season. As of this morning, only 5 miles of trails have been cleared and opened to the public, including the Sundew Trail, the Pitcher Plant Trail, the Beech Woods Trail and the Bird Watchers Trail. All other trails are closed until safety and condition assessments can be completed. If you come across a "Trail Closed" sign, please do not enter the trail. Many bridges, boardwalks, and trail surfaces have been significantly impacted by the storm. No back-country camping permits will be issued until additional trail assessments can be completed. All ranger-led programs scheduled for the week of September 4th, including the night hikeon Wednesday, have been cancelled. If you have questions, please contact the preserve visitor center.
As part of the Southeast Texas community, National Park Service employees have been working since the beginning of the storm to assist our employees and neighbors. During the week of August 21, the staff of Big Thicket National Preserve activated its "Tropical Storm and Hurricane Plan", preparing facilities and personnel for the arrival of Tropical Storm Harvey. By the time the storm made landfill on Friday, August 25th it had reached Hurricane status. Due to unprecedented flooding, intermittent power outages, and a lack of potable water, all preserve facilities remained closed for more than a week. On Wednesday, August 29th, the preserve stood up a local Type 3 Incident Command Team led by Big Thicket National Preserve Fire Management Officer Fulton Jeansonne, to begin to ensure preserve employees are accounted for and safe, complete a professional condition assessment of park assets, and initiate ordering of recovery resources.
Throughout the storm and post-storm events National Park Service (NPS) Park Rangers worked side-by-side with Texas Parks and Wildlife Officers and other local officials rendering aid too many community members. NPS staff used airboats and other specialized equipment to rescue Southeast Texans from the rising flood waters.
NPS staff have assessed the northern units of the preserve and determined that all structure are sound. Widespread and persistent flooding has hampered work in many of the preserve’s southern units, especially in the Beaumont Unit and the Pine Island Bayou Corridor Unit.
On Saturday, September 2nd, Big Thicket National Preserve staff was joined by an eleven-person Intermountain Region Incident Management Team, a group of the Department of the Interior and National Park Service employees from across the country, here to assist in damage assessment and incident response. With their assistance, park staff began working to survey all park trails and day-use-areas.
At this time, visitors should consider all access points and day-use areas managed by the National Park Service along the Neches River to be closed. Floodwaters have carried in debris, compromised banks, and created unsafe conditions along all creeks, rivers, and waterways throughout the region. Due to high flood waters, increased flow, and strong currents, we discourage visitors from attempting to paddle or motorboat any waterway in the preserve.
We are pleased to report that post-Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts wrapped-up successfully and safely over the weekend and overall operations are gearing down. Assessment of the park infrastructure will continue for many weeks to come.
Earlier today the Intermountain Region Incident Management Team demobilized and all remaining incident response will be completed by the Big Thicket National Preserve Type 3 Incident Command Team.
For general information about Big Thicket National Preserve, visit www.nps.gov/bith or call the preserve visitor center at 409-951-6700. Visit us on Facebook www.facebook.com/BigThicketNPS, Twitterwww.twitter.com/BigThicketNPS, and Instagram www.instagram.com/BigThicketNPS.
- Written by Community Reports
HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS - Since Hurricane Harvey, the Harris County Traffic Signal Maintenance teams have been working to bring full restoration to all damaged Harris County-operated traffic signals. Harris County is committed to keeping commuters safe and informed about our signal restoration efforts.
As of Monday afternoon, we estimate that approximately 96% of the 900 County operated traffic signals are either undamaged by the storm or have been restored to normal operation through the efforts of our County staff and contractors. A small number of signals are still inaccessible to our crews due to ongoing flood conditions, primarily in areas upstream from the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs. Other signals not yet in normal operation were significantly damaged by flooding and will remain in red flash operation until repairs can be completed.
Signal restoration was prioritized with public safety as the first consideration. Power restoration and correcting dark signals is now complete. Ongoing repair orders have been prioritized based on accommodating high traffic volumes moving through major intersections.
Please remember that flashing red lights function as four-way stops. As local schools resume operations, be alert for school zone flashers and signs.
Anticipate high traffic volumes and delays where drivers must detour to parallel routes in areas where roadways remain closed due to flooding. Please be patient and plan to adjust your rush hour schedule accordingly.
Harris County traffic signal facts: The Harris County Engineering Department operates and maintains approximately 900 traffic signals and 550 school zone flashers, located on County-maintained roads throughout the County. Approximately 90% of those traffic signals and school zone flashers are located in unincorporated areas. Traffic signals on numbered state highways in unincorporated areas are maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation. In most cases, traffic signals within a city are maintained by that city.
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