Hurricane Harvey Death Toll Rises to 35; Officials Expect Total to Climb

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Hurricane Harvey, who shocked Houstonians with a double hit causing historic floods, has claimed the lives of at least 35 residents, including a family of six, and officials expect grim news of more deaths as waters recede.

Residents within the Hurricanes path, with only 56 hours to implement full scale disaster preparations for what went from a Tropical Depression to a Category Four killer Hurricane with sustained winds of 130mph to 156 mph, were simply not prepared for the sheer size, force, storm surge and rainfall from the monster that gathered moisture from the Gulf before making landfall near the beach town of Rockport, Texas.

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For most Americans, in the south, the only reference to the magnitude and damage experienced in Houston is Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 Gulf Hurricane that leveled much of New Orleans with 16foot storm surge, stranding residents as the levee couldn’t hold against the Category Five killer, and costing nearly $49.8 billion in damage.

For the Eastern Corridor, Superstrom Sandy is the one remembered. The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane that sent a unprecedented storm surge the subway system and across the tri-state area and was the costliest Hurricane to date, causing a whopping $75billion dollars in damage, until now.

Hurricane Harvey will shatter most Hurricane damage totals as the costliest storm with early estimates at $190billion. Harvey dumped a record shattering 24.5 Trillion gallons of water during the twin landfalls with 19 Trillion Gallons in Southeastern Texas and another 5.5 Trillion during the second landfall in Louisiana.

While the numbers provide the damage assessment, the storm’s death toll, which is still hovering in the mid 30’s, is the grim tale from this storm. The numbers are relatively small, and as far as comparison haven’t reached the record numbers of Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy fortunately and still the grim task of explaining to loved one and friends remains.

The news Sunday, a day into landfall, with massive flooding turning roadways into canals, 16 year old Devy Saldivar, a member of the Saldivar Family whose van was swept away posted this message on Facebook , at 5:30am, just a few hours before she died, “No sleep & anxiety, please let this pass sooner.”

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That afternoon, she along with her three siblings, Daisy Saldivar, 6; Xavier Saldivar, 8; Dominic Saldivar, 14; were traveling in a van with her great-grandparents, Manuel Saldivar, 84, and his wife Belia, 81, driven by her great-uncle, Samuel Salivar, when they tried to drive through a flooded street.

From media account the driver stopped before crossing the bridge and asked his father whom was known to have suffered from dementia, if he could make it. The father indicated they could make it to the bridge, which they did. It was then the road dipped, and the gully was already filled with standing rainwater, with nowhere to go except forward, the driver tried to pass on a road he couldn’t see.

The water in the gully picked up the van and submerged it quickly. The driver, as he has repeated his miraculous escape, indicated he told the kids, to open the back door of the van and attempt to escape through the rear doors of the cargo van. He escaped through the front driver window leaving the other six in the van. No one has explained if the cargo van had a cage separation with cargo, and in this case children and family, in the rear.

He has said he heard them screaming for their lives but was powerless. To reach the gully he drove around a "flooded road" sign.

This heartbreaking scenario will be played out many times over the next week as flood waters recede and officials have the grim task of searching for missing persons stranded in any number of homes that were inundated by rising floodwaters and storm surge. 

Image source listed. 


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