Beltway Insider: Trump/Texas; Hurricane Harvey; Death/Destruction; Refineries/Explosions; North Korea

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President Trump and First Lady visited storm ravaged Houston this week, meeting with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, visiting shelters and pledging an immediate assistance package until a full disaster aid package can be prepared and passed by congress.

   According to Gallup, President Trump's job approval, over the past week, decreased two percentage points to 36% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President increased three percentage points to 59%.

Hurricane Harvey Leaves an Unprecedented Trail of Death and Destruction

Hurricane Harvey, the Category Four killer storm that slammed into southeastern Texas with sustained winds of 130 mph, battering towns and cities along the Gulf coast leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake has finally dissipated.

Ten days have passed since the Category Four monster storm made landfall in Rockport, Texas. Recovery efforts are continuing. The death toll has risen to 50. Hundreds are still missing and while loved ones continued to hope that separated family members will be found alive officials are less than optimistic and expect death tolls to increase.

Hurricane Harvey will be remembered for many elements including the magnitude of water the storm produced. Calling the Category Four a "Water Event" was an understatement as the deluge submerged entire cities in eight foot or more in low lying areas of water.  

Beltway Insider: Trump/GOP Rift; Hurricane Harvey; Eclipse; Immigrants/Border Wall; Weed Laws; Barcelona Peace March


One week ago, in the height of rising flood waters and in the midst of the catastrophic storm, fear drove many to make impaired driving decisions resulting in the grave loss of a family of six, with four children under the age of 16, and a Police Officer, with years of  dedicated service and clear knowledge of storm preparedness as each risked driving into flooded roadways.

Stories of devastation and of miracles are coming out of the storm, a six month old baby girl ripped from her parents arms swept away in the current is the storms youngest victim; an eight year old unable to get his asthma treatment died, four children swept away heard screaming by the sole survivor who managed to escape out the window and was unable to rescue even one.

And then the stories of miracles a two year old alive, clinging to her dead mother. The countless stories of the more than 41,000 people who made it to the shelter's after apartments were flooded with as much as neck high water.

Unheard of Totals

A Hurricane is not an anomaly. Weather predictors, forecasters, and agencies are dedicated to tracking and determining the strength, landfall, and expectations of these catastrophic storms.

Each year, as the Hurricane season approaches and the nation is told the potential for named storms making landfall is a particular amount, there is still the hesitancy especially in strong coastal areas to ignore the messenger hoping to avoid the message.

Usually a Category Four storm has emulated its red warning glow across weather modules for days as it slow tracks to the expected landfall region giving residents and state officials adequate time to prepare, board up homes, issue mandatory evacuation orders, and batten down preparing for the worst.

Harvey surprised everyone. Sitting in the Gulf, soaking up warm Gulfstream water, the killer storm grew four times its original categorical strength in 56 hours leaving officials unsure.

Some communities were under mandatory evacuation orders including residents from the Rockport and Corpus Christi, which quickly became ghost towns with row after row of boarded up business hoping the storm that quickly grew dissipates with equal speed.

Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner, did not issue and mandatory evacuation order. His decision, in hindsight, has been questioned as the region was inundated with 52 inches of water, flooding roads, and the sheer force of the water, breeching dams.

Harvey made landfall with an enormous amount of moisture, which most Hurricanes do as they gather thy are essentially a water spout, Harvey took it to a new level. Soaking in like a sponge the Gulf waters created a vacuum of moisture, so much so that Hurricane Harvey unleashed a record 26trillion gallons of water on Southeastern Texas, the Houston region and Louisiana.

In the days since the initial hit, Mayor Turner has backtracked on evacuation orders with releases from the areas two dams, Addick and Barker, will "keep water coming in high over the next ten days" he said.

Homes in the evacuation area may have sustained limited damage and the after effect of the unprecedented amount of water will cause additional flooding across the region.

Recovery

As the recovery operations begin in Texas, those who has suffered through the two recent catastrophic storms, Hurricane Katrina, which leveled New Orleans and Superstorm Sandy that saw what had been described as apocalyptic damage across fourteen states, shutting down one of the largest metropolitan areas, flooding cities, filling low lying subway system with sea water, drowning boardwalks, repositioning century old amusement parks and placing them in the ocean, have survived.

Evan as Texas Governor Greg Abbott has said, the recovery for the southernmost region of Texas, the 1000miles of coastline, and Louisiana will not be quick. With the amount of homes, nearly 200,000 partially of totally damaged, recovery will take some time.

"Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Texas and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey beginning on August 23, 2017, and continuing," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

The killer storm made land As the world begins to see the full picture of the death and devastation left in its wake, the President issued an "all hands on deck" call.

He along with the First Lady, Vice President Pence, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Department Of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Department Of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Department Of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, Acting Department Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, stayed in constant communication regarding initial damage assessments and now in recovery efforts.

"Together, we will help them all recover from this tragedy.  We'll renew our hope and community, and we'll renew our hope and rebuild those homes, and businesses, and schools, and places of worship where the strength and vigor that comes from the love within our souls, the President said. 

Harvey with sustained winds of 135-156mph, battered the island  display of nature as the tropical depression didn't fully realize its Hurricane status.

"President Trump often reminds that we are one American family, that when one hurts, we all hurt.  We stand together in difficult times.  And to the people of Texas, on behalf of President Trump, I say you were are in our prayers and in our hearts.  And we are with you.   I say today, on behalf of the American people, we are with you today.  We will be with you tomorrow, and we will be with you every day until this great state and these great communities recover and rebuild to be even better and stronger than ever before," Vice President Mike Pence said.


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Beaumont Chemical Plant; Off Shore Refineries; Port Authorties; Cruise Ships

Hurricane Harvey, no matter the amount of federal funding received, will have long term effects at the gas pump in every city across America, especially as seven of the nine Gulf Coast refineries, used to produce 8% of the nation's gasoline experienced some level of production loss from partial to complete shutdown.

"Nine facilities that turn 2.4 million barrels of crude a day into petroleum products remained completely closed, four operated at reduced rates, and one had reached full production, the Energy Department said in a status update issued early Sunday," the Houston Chronicle reported.

From Brownsville, Texas, at the southernmost tip of Texas, to Beaumont and Port Arthur, located on the Louisiana border, commercial ports collect, when fully operational collect nearly 2million gallons of crude per day. Not one port along nearly 1000 mile stretch of coastline is at full capacity.

Each of these ports handle a specific import or export with Brownsville principal cargo imports include construction materials Steel slab, hot and cold roll, steel plate, steel beams (billets), iron ore and export Steel products, petroleum products, lubricants, and grainall the way to Beaumont whose principal imports are Forest products, aggregate, military cargo, steel, project cargo and exports Bulk grain, potash, forest products, military cargo, project cargo.

As of Saturday crews are assessing the damage to the 18 Texas Port Authorities along the 1000miles stretch of coastline to determine when operations could begin. Until then cargo will cease entering or exiting the country.

Crosby Chemical Plant; Beaumont, Texas Water Plant

Throughout the region from Houston to Beaumont, cities and towns that house refineries and chemical plants are facing a total shut down of facilities leaving the 120,000 residents of Beaumont, high and dry really without any safe drinking water.

The Water treatment plant suffered heavy flooding and subsequently shut down stranding all residents, an d facilities without safe drinking water.

City officials have continued to issue statement indicating the water is unsafe to drink and resides are instructed to boil water, rigorously for two minutes to destroy any bacteria. Should bottled water become available at pre-Hurricane pricing, residents should stock up.

In the wake of the recovery, reports of price gouging has surfaced with corrupt owners taking advantage of the situation and charging $99.00 for a case of water, in hard hit Beaumont where the water plant failed, and $20.00 for a gallon of gasoline.  

The Governor's office has announced any person participating in price gouging will face stiff penalties.

Chemical Plant Explosion

Crosby, Texas, an incorporated municipality of about 2500 resident, were running for cover as Arkema, the local chemical plant, suffered a single tank explosion. 

"An EPA emergency response surveillance aircraft just flew through the fire at the Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas. The aircraft is monitoring for any airborne toxic chemical. Imagery reviewed in the aircraft clearly shows a strong fire that is west of the building that burned yesterday. Preliminary analysis of data is showing that although the fire has extreme intensity generating smoke, no high levels of toxic chemical have been detected. Everyone in the area should follow the safety instruction of local authorities, specifically staying out of the evacuation zone, and avoiding smoke and flood waters," the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said.

The EPA provided background after the massive fire which was attributed to Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent flooding.

"On Wednesday, the first of nine refrigerated trailers of organic peroxide caught fire at the Arkema facility in Crosby, Texas. Following this fire, EPA sent aerial surveillance aircraft to test resulting smoke and did ground-level air quality monitoring.  EPA's plane instrumentation is capable of measuring 78 different chemicals, including peroxides. Neither testing methods found toxic concentration levels in areas away from the evacuated facility," the EPA said.

Cruise Ships

Guests aboard the Cruise ships due to dock more than one week ago were treated to an additional week at sea and finally were given the go head to dock this week in Galveston.   

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma, that predictors are calling an Atlantic storm even as hurricane modules haven't quite pinned down the trajectory. All expectations point to an eastern effect.  

North Korean Test Large Nuclear Weapon

Recent Seismic activity in the North Korean region has led world leaders to believe Kim Jong Un, the dictatorial leader of communist North Korea, has again tested intercontinental ballistic missiles bringing the total testing to six.

Un has repeatedly been warmed from nations within and outside the target range, hat his continued testing will result in unprecedented responses from all nations. Un, oft referred to as mentally disturbed, has failed to concern himself with the world leaders.

"The world has received North Korea's latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior. Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime's isolation in the region and among all nations of the world.  All options are on the table," President Trump said.

To donate to the London Community Foundation: https://artistsforgrenfell.com/

For more information on President Donald Trump: www.whitehouse.gov

Sources: Whitehouse.gov, Wikipedia.com, The Houston Chronicle, EPA, Texas Ports

 

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