Disaster cleanup from Hurricane Harvey is now bound up in Washington's brewing budget-related brouhaha, as Congress tries to fix the National Flood Insurance Program before authorization runs out at the end of September. The latest TipSheet explains, plus offers ideas and resources for localizing flood insurance stories.
Southwest (AZ NM OK TX)
"In addition to widespread suffering and devastation, Hurricane Harvey has brought a plague of floating fire ants to the Houston region."
"Officials in Houston are just beginning to grapple with the health and environmental risks that lurk in the waters dumped by Hurricane Harvey, a stew of toxic chemicals, sewage, debris and waste that still floods much of the city."
"CROSBY, Texas — A flooded chemical plant near Houston exploded twice early Thursday, sending a plume of smoke into the air and triggering a fire that the firm plans to let 'burn itself out.'"
"Residents of cities in Jefferson County, Tex., about 100 miles east of Houston, were desperate for help Wednesday morning after rain there caused floodwaters to rise precipitously and lightning made things particularly difficult for those responding to the storm."
To help environmental reporters track the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, SEJournal has compiled a series of resources, starting with a Toolbox on Hurricanes that includes government, news and other sources, seasonal forecasts, background science and an SEJ hurricane archive. Also see our Hurricane Issue Backgrounder and TipSheets on hurricanes and on flooding, an Inside Story on how one SEJ Award-winner looked ahead at the prospect of a perfect storm for Houston, plus the latest hurricane headlines from EJ Today (subscribe).
"With Tropical Storm Harvey dumping record rainfall on Houston, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers faced a dilemma as water volumes rose to perilous levels in its two reservoirs west of the city center."
"Around 13 million people are under flood watches and warnings stretching from Corpus Christi to New Orleans as the remnants of Hurricane Harvey menace the already drenched Texas and Louisiana."
It's a deadly threat only fitfully reported by news media. But coverage of insect-borne diseases could be improved by environmental journalists who understand the intersection of bugs, humans and climate. A two-part Issue Backgrounder with basics, key resources and a rundown on significant illnesses brought by mosquitoes, and by ticks and other insects.
"Harvey continued to intensify as it steered for the Texas coast, with the forecasters saying early Friday that it had strengthened to a Category 2 storm."