When Hurricane Harvey made landfall at Category 4 intensity near Corpus Christi, Texas, in the early hours of Saturday, Aug. 26, it became the first Category 3-or-higher level hurricane to hit the United States since 2005 and began what FEMA director Brock Long called “probably the worst disaster” in Texas history.
Extreme weather and flooding in Houston and other affected areas has damaged or destroyed nearly 200,000 homes and displaced over a million people, according to estimates from Texas officials and reports from several media outlets. Rainfall from the storm has been measured as high as 51.88 inches—a continental U.S. record. The Associated Press said on Monday that at least 60 people are believed to have been killed by Harvey, though that number is expected to rise as rescue missions continue.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott praised federal, state, and local officials for their coordinated response to the storm. In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity last Tuesday, Abbott said that he and U.S. President Donald Trump “planned and prepared for this days before the hurricane even came” alongside members of Trump’s cabinet, FEMA, and other government agencies.
Abbott deployed Texas’ entire National Guard in response to Harvey, and governors from several other states sent members of theirs. Louisiana’s “Cajun Navy”, a group of volunteer boat owners that formed after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, roared in to help first responders bring stranded people to safety. Able residents of the cities hit hardest have not been idle, either; among other heroic acts, they have formed human chains to save people stuck in cars and used kayaks to deliver pizzas to their neighbors. Charities like the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, the smoked meat-centric Operation BBQ Relief, and numerous grassroots organizations have also stepped in to provide necessities to those in need.
A multitude of American corporations, professional sports teams, and celebrities have donated to Harvey relief efforts. CBS News reported on Friday that U.S. companies—led by major offerings from Walmart, Verizon, and Dell Technologies—have combined to commit over $170 million. The largest contributions from the athletic world have come from Houston’s own clubs: Astros owner Jim Crane and Rockets owner Leslie Alexander each pledged $4 million, and Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt has raised over $20 million in an online fundraiser. “I’m gonna do everything to make sure that that money goes directly to the people,” Watt said in a video posted to his Facebook page.
President Trump visited Southeast Texas with First Lady Melania Trump on Tuesday and Saturday of last week and requested an initial down payment of $7.9 billion for Harvey relief from Congress on Friday. He also promised to donate $1 million of his own money.
On Saturday, the president and first lady talked and took pictures with hurricane victims and handed out lunches at a shelter housing hundreds in Houston. Speaking to the press beforehand, Trump commended the outpouring of support for the afflicted.
“As tough as this was,” he said, “it’s been a wonderful thing.”