High Water Rescues Under Way in Golden Triangle

Major flooding is occurring in much of the region, and many rescues are now needed in the Golden Triangle area of southeast Texas.

The most severe rainfall and rising floodwater conditions on Aug. 30 are taking place in Texas' Golden Triangle, the Beaumont-Port Arthur metropolitan area, now that Tropical Storm Harvey has come ashore nearby. Hundreds or perhaps thousands of residents in Port Arthur were stranded by high water as of 6:15 a.m and all major roads in the county except I-10 eastbound to Lake Charles, La., were impassable at that time, the Beaumont Enterprise reported.

The newspaper's reports indicated the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone who needs help to hang a sheet or some other signal on their home to let rescuers know they need help, and Port Arthur officials likewise are asking residents on social media to display something white so rescuers can find them easily.

Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman said more than 20,000 homes in the city have water inside them.

People living in low-lying areas are being asked to evacuate. The report indicated at least 70,000 in the area have lost power, and restoration efforts may be slowed considerably by current and expected rainfall.

The death toll due to Harvey, once a powerful hurricane and now a tropical storm, has topped 20.

Heavy rain is expected to continue in many locations through Aug. 30. President Donald J. Trump on Aug. 28 issued an emergency declaration for five southwestern Louisiana parishes: Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis, and Vermilion parishes. It authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Aug. 29 it has approved an initial $10 million National Dislocated Worker Grant to help with cleanup and recovery efforts in Texas. "The Department of Labor is deploying resources to help Texans who find themselves unable to work, and without a paycheck, get back on their feet. An initial investment of $10 million will be provided to help Texas assess their workforce needs," said Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. "The American workforce—along with our volunteers and first responders—is the greatest in the world. Together, we will recover and rebuild Southeast Texas. The Department of Labor is here to help ensure the safety and stability of Texans along the way." The grant is being awarded to the Texas Workforce Commission.

Dow Chemical Company and The Dow Chemical Company Foundation announced Aug. 29 they'll allocate $1 million to support immediate relief and long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts associated with the storm and its aftermath, as well as support for the company's affected employees -- the announcement said Dow has about 12,000 employees and contractors living in Texas. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire region, including our employees and the communities that we call home as the wrath of Hurricane Harvey is endured. Our primary concern right now is the safety of our employees and communities, and we’re working closely with our Dow families and local partners to help," said Andrew Liveris, Dow's chairman and chief executive officer. (Liveris will become executive chairman of DowDuPont on Sept. 1, after Dow's merger with DuPont closes on Aug. 31.)

Dow will donate $100,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, $100,000 to Team Rubicon, and $200,000 to other local nonprofit organizations assisting the region and is matching employee and retiree donations up to $100,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. To support its employees, Dow is offering interest-free loans and temporary housing as needed; affected Texas cities where Dow sites are located include Seadrift, Freeport, Texas City, Deer Park, Beaumont, Bayport, La Porte, and Houston.

The New York City Fire Department sent three teams to Texas to assist in search and rescue: the city's elite Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR) New York Task Force-1, which consists of FDNY and NYPD specialists in various forms of rescues, particularly swiftwater rescues; FDNY's Incident Management Team, who are federally trained teams of first responders responsible for large-scale and long-duration incidents and emergencies; and the Red Cross Disaster Assistance Response Team, a partnership between FDNY and the American Red Cross in greater New York, both active and retired firefighters and fire officers.

The American Red Cross has mobilized trained disaster relief workers, kitchen supplies, and ready-to-eat meals. To help victims of the hurricane, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

As of the night of Aug. 27, FEMA had more than 900 Urban Search and Rescue personnel working to save lives in south Texas and had placed commodities at Incident Support Bases near affected areas: more than 1,000,000 liters of water, 1,000,000 meals, 20,520 tarps, and 70 generators there and at staging areas in Texas and Louisiana. FEMA was providing around-the-clock staffing at its distribution center in Fort Worth and is shipping additional commodities to ISBs and staging areas.

The federal response includes the National Emergency Medical Services activating a contract for 100 ambulances and 15 air ambulances for advanced and basic life support and are staging them in San Antonio. Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) personnel and equipment also are on the ground in Texas and Louisiana to support the states with secure and non-secure voice, video, and information services for emergency response communications needs.

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