People are rescued from a flooded neighborhood in Houston, Texas, on August 28, 2017.

Scott Olson/Getty Images News

After the Storm

Recovery efforts are underway in Texas and Louisiana following Hurricane Harvey. 

Many residents of Texas and Louisiana now face the challenge of recovering from the enormous damage left by Hurricane Harvey. The hurricane was the strongest to hit the U.S. in 13 years when it plowed into the coast of Southeastern Texas on August 25. The storm then moved northeast over Louisiana and up toward Tennessee and Kentucky, causing widespread flooding and destruction across the Southeastern U.S. More than 60 people died during the storm.  

Houston, Texas, the fourth-largest city in the U.S., was one of the places hit hardest by the flooding. About 30,000 people were forced to flee their homes and move into shelters, which provided places to sleep and stay safe and dry. Many of them are just now returning to their homes to assess the damage.

However, many roads, homes, and businesses are still flooded and badly damaged. Thousands of homes have been completely destroyed, leaving many people without permanent housing. Texas Governor Greg Abbott says the storm has caused “one of the largest disasters America has ever faced.” He says the recovery could take years and cost up to $180 billion. 

Jim McMahon

Map updated Thursday, August 31, 2017, at 2:00 P.M.

A Powerful Storm

Hurricanes are some of the most destructive storms on Earth. These huge, spinning storms form over oceans. The most powerful hurricanes have winds up to 200 miles per hour. The storms drop heavy rain when they reach land, and their winds can cause huge storm surges. These surges push seawater inland, causing massive flooding. This combination of wind and water can tear apart buildings, roads, and other structures.

Hurricanes are categorized by the strength of their winds, with ratings from 1 to 5. The strongest is a Category 5. Hurricane Harvey came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane. Its winds were reaching 130 miles per hour, pulling roofs off buildings in communities along the coast, including Rockport and Corpus Christi. Its wind speed soon dropped, though, making it a tropical storm. Tropical storms are weaker than hurricanes, with winds of 39–73 miles per hour.

However, Harvey acted strangely, say meteorologists (scientists who study weather). Normally, hurricanes and tropical storms break up quickly once they reach land. Instead, Harvey stayed intact and slowed down, lengthening the amount of time it could do damage.

A weather station near Houston recorded over 51 inches of rain during the storm. That breaks the record for most rain recorded from a single storm in the history of the lower 48 states. The storm also spun off many tornadoes—spiraling columns of air that can destroy everything in their paths. 

Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP

Neighbors use their own personal boat to rescue people in Friendswood, Texas, on Sunday. 

Damage Control

During the flooding, rescue workers across Texas worked night and day to reach stranded residents and get them to safety. Texas Governor Greg Abbott activated 12,000 National Guard troops to aid relief efforts. Some other states and the U.S. military also sent emergency workers. In addition, ordinary citizens used their own private boats to help rescue people. Dozens of residents were rescued by boat. Others were plucked from the roofs of their homes by helicopter. 

Cities across Texas opened their doors to people who had to evacuate (move away from a dangerous area) their homes. On Saturday, President Donald Trump visited Houston to meet with people staying in shelters there.

"TEXAS: We are with you today, we are with you tomorrow, and we will be with you EVERY SINGLE DAY AFTER, to restore, recover, and REBUILD!" President Trump wrote on Twitter.

REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A man walks among the remains of his destroyed garage after Hurricane Harvey tore through the coastal city of Rockport, Texas, on Friday night.