Irma May Have Been the Bigger Storm, but the Damage From Harvey’s Storm Surge Will Last for YearsEagle Prime Admin
Irma May Have Been the Bigger Storm, but the Damage From Harvey’s Storm Surge Will Last for Years
Reporters who covered both storms explain what it was like to be in the eye of two hurricanes, and what it will be like to rebuild.
Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma are the only Category 4 Atlantic storms to ever hit the United States in the same year—let alone the same two weeks. Their landfalls turned the past few weeks into an emotional maelstrom of displacement, property damage, and conversations about climate change. While the full impact of the two storms is still being tallied up, journalists who were on the scene to cover both believe the back-to-back disasters also serve as a testament to the overwhelming damage water can do to our homes, and lives.
Despite a swirl slightly less imposing than Irma’s, Harvey punched above its weight. The storm killed more than 70 people and caused billions of dollars in damage. “It just looked a lot worse, just an ongoing crisis in Houston,” says Jorge Ribas, a video journalist for the Washington Post who covered both Harvey and Irma. “That’s not to diminish what happened here with Irma, but … when we were in Lumberton, Texas, we were driving in boats and the water was at the top of stop signs, you know, covering street signs. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
No one else has, either. Current calculations suggest Hurricane Harvey dumped an unprecedented 27 trillion gallons of water on Texas and Louisiana. Parts of Houston received almost 53 inches of rain, breaking a record for rainfall in the continental United States and forcing the National Weather Service to rewrite its color-coding system. And weeks after the storm, things just keep getting worse: The storm water has been slow to drain and is getting dirtier by the day.