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Hurricane Harvey: 3 Years Later


August 25th, 2017 –  a day that residents of Port Aransas, Texas will never forget.

When the Mayor, whoever it is, issues an order to evacuate, people in Port Aransas listen to it.  And they get the heck out,” said Charles Bujan, the Mayor of Port Aransas since 2016.

After rapidly strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Harvey made landfall on nearby San Jose Island, Texas as a Category 4 with winds as high as 132 miles per hour.  This lead to widespread destruction along the Texas coastline.

I think we lost 500 dwelling units in the population and our city infrastructure was severely damaged.  It was the biggest mess up I’ve ever seen to be honest with you when I came back,” Mayor Bujan said.

But landfall would only be the start of Harvey’s impacts.  On August 25th, the rain began in southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.  This continued as Harvey slowly drifted along the coastline for four days.

“If you’ve never been through it before, sometimes you look at it and go well, I’ll be fine, I don’t know what to do when it happens but we’ll be just fine and we’re not going to flood,” said Dirk Sylvester, who experience Harvey firsthand with his family in Kingwood, TX.  “Now, since we’ve been through it, we’ve got to have our hurricane preparedness plan at our house and what we’re going to do if we see something big coming in.”

The storm was record-setting — rain totals in Houston came in at 31.26″.  In nearby Nederland, Texas, 60.58″ of rain fell, making it the wettest tropical cyclone ever recorded for both the Lone Star State and the United States.

We just lost everything, and everybody that we love, our neighborhood and community, lost everything,”  said Dirk’s wife, Mary Elizabeth.  “And you have no idea what Category 3 water does I mean, you lose everything.”

The rain lead to deadly flooding.  68 people were killed by the storm in Texas, making it the state’s deadliest tropical cyclone since 1919.  America’s 5th-largest metro area, Houston, was brought to a near-standstill for weeks, and across the state tens of thousands were displaced and evacuated.

It was surreal,” Dirk Sylvester recalled.  “When we were in the boats, we went quite a distance over neighborhoods and through neighborhoods trying to get out.”

Harvey produced an estimated 125 billion dollars worth of damage, making it the costliest natural disaster in the United States since Hurricane Katrina.  Harvey also became the first major hurricane to make landfall in the US since 2005.

In April of 2018, the name Harvey was officially retired by the World Meteorological Organization – a testament to the storm’s incredible strength.

About the author
Meredith is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist as designated by the American Meteorological Society.  She was born and raised in Cleveland but has worked from coast to coast covering almost every type of weather.  Meredith is a weather, space, and STEM journalist and has been live out in the field during destructive tropical storms on the Gulf Coast of Florida, raging wildfires in Southern Cali... Load Morefornia, and covered the wreckage from tornadoes in the Great Plains. In 2009, she reported on the damaging hail storm during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and in 2017, the historic California winter storms that produced record rain totals and devastating flash flooding.  Prior to joining WeatherNation, Meredith worked at KEYT/KKFX in Santa Barbara, CA, KOTA-TV in Rapid City, SD, WWSB-TV in Sarasota, FL, and began her career as an intern at WGN-TV in Chicago.  She was Santa Barbara's "Favorite Weathercaster of the Year" in 2016 and the Community Partner of the Year in 2017 for her volunteer work with Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties and awarded with the 2018 Valparaiso University Alumni Association First Decade Achievement Award. Meredith is the current chair of the American Meteorological Society's Station Scientist Committee, which focuses on raising greater awareness & outreach when it comes to science education for viewers.  She's also an accomplished journalist, producing weather and science stories including rocket launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base and the new GOES-16 satellite and it's impacts on weather forecasting.  Meredith was personally invited by NASA's Johnson Space Center to interview astronauts on the International Space Station and was the only meteorologist in the nation to do an exclusive report accompanying the GOES-West satellite from Colorado to Florida, reporting on and covering it's launch in 2018.  Meredith's also worked on features that took her paragliding along the coast, white water rafting in Northern California, learning to surf in the Pacific Ocean, and how to be an aerial photographer while flying a single engine plane! Say hi on Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn!