News World

Harvey’s heartbreaking wake

By Brad Hunter, Toronto Sun

A woman walks down a flooded road during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. (GETTY IMAGES/PHOTO)

A woman walks down a flooded road during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. (GETTY IMAGES/PHOTO)

Dreams and lives have been shattered - and snuffed out - by the relentless, apocalyptic Hurricane Harvey.

A hero cop whose wife begged him to stay home.

A devoted mom who died protecting her baby.

A family of six trying to flee but caught in flood waters.

Now, two volunteer rescuers have been reported dead and two of their comrades missing after their boat was swept into a flooded bayou.

They are among 31 deaths attributed to Harvey.

The group were trying to rescue neighbours, the Houston Chronicle reports.

“My husband has been in Wallisville and Normandy helping people get out of their houses,” heartbroken Perla Jaquez wrote on Facebook of her husband Jorge Perez, 33.

“Now we can’t locate him or his brothers … we are all very concerned… (it’s) getting dark.”

Cops say the men were trying to rescue a wheelchair-bound area resident’s home when the current pushed the boat into power lines.

The shock blasted the vessel tossing its occupants into the roiling waters.

The bodies of Perez and Yahir Rubio Vizuet, 45, were found floating face down, both had drowned. Two of their party are still missing.

Rescuers have undertaken a dramatic block-by-block search for survivors - and the dead.

“We don’t think we’re going to find any humans, but we’re prepared if we do,” said District Chief James Pennington of the Houston Fire Department.

The search effort is expected to take as long as two weeks.

So far, the deadly storm - the heaviest dumping of rain in American history - has affected an estimated 100,000 homes.

About 32,000 people are now living in shelters.

But thanks to social media and new technology like GPS devices logging homes they’ve checked is considerably easier than during the horrific Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Economists are pegging damage from the storm at more than $160 billion - more than Katrina and Hurricane Sandy combined.

Harvey has also shuttered plastic plants and oil refineries threatening the U.S.’s oil supply. It also shut down Houston’s port, the second busiest in the nation.

Forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers estimates that the storm could shave between 0.3 and 1.2 percentage points off U.S. economic growth in the July-September quarter.

Meanwhile, Harvey keeps rolling as a tropical depression soaking Louisiana, Tennessee and Kentucky.

As for Houston, the rain has ebbed but temperatures are soaring into the 90s over the Labour Day weekend triggering new fears of heat exhaustion and food spoilage.

Rescuer Patrick Tobias asked the question on everyone’s lips as he surveyed the catastrophic damage to his neighbourhood.

“Where do we go from here?”

-With files from The Associated Press 

HARVEY NOTEBOOK

Chemical blaze fears

Chemical explosions at a suburban Houston plant filled the sky with black smoke — and the company that owns it (Arkema) said more blasts are likely. 

“We fully expect that the eight other containers will do the same thing,” said Richard Rennard.

Charlie Hebdo faux pas

French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo - best known as the victim of a Paris terror attack - has slammed Texas in the agonizing aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The crows trumpets: “God Exists! He Drowned All the Neo-Nazis of Texas.”

The splash features a half-submerged swastika flag and arms giving the Nazi salute.

T.O. dog rescuers hitting Houston

A team of Toronto animal advocates are heading to Houston next week and pick up a pack of rescue dogs. Shelters in the flood-ravaged city are overwhelmed. Nicole Simone of Redemption Dogs said the four-member team will help the shelters and then head home with the canines.

PMJT gives condolences

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday to offer condolences over the deaths and destruction unleashed by Hurricane Harvey. Trudeau offered Canada’s help with rescue and recovery.

Congress vote on Harvey help

The U.S. congress will vote next week on a multibillion-dollar relief package for Harvey. An emergency request to replenish rapidly shrinking aid reserves is coming from the Trump administration within days with voting to follow. 

Strip joint chips in

A Houston strip joint is lending its bare bosoms to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

Vivid Live announced on Twitter on Thursday that until the end of September a portion of admission charges into the club would go to Harvey help.  Two dancers at the club have been hit by flooding.