Hurricane Harvey Floods Highways and Stalls Oil Production in Texas

Through Sunday morning, Harvey continued to unleash record levels of rain upon Texas, causing biblical flooding. The situation is so bad that the National Weather Service warned of “additional catastrophic, unprecedented and life threatening flooding” into the next week, and placed flash-flood emergencies for the entirety of Southeast Texas.

Harvey was the strongest storm to hit the United States since 2004 and has already trapped countless individuals, both in their homes and on the road as the rain has turned several major highways into man-made rivers. In some areas, the waterline is high enough to reach streetlights. 

Houston is literally underwater

— gabby ? (@glowindolan) August 27, 2017

According to Reuters, emergency crews spent all of Sunday morning rescuing people from flooded cars and homes as waters rose across southeast Texas, saving more than 1,000 people around Houston as Harvey stalled over the area — punishing the region with even more rain than originally expected.

“This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown and beyond anything experienced,” the National Weather Service stated on Twitter.

The center of Harvey still hasn’t reached Houston, but is forecast to arc slowly toward the city by Wednesday as the slow moving storm creeps through Texas. Damage to vehicles and homes is anticipated to far surpass anything a normal hurricane would yield. Chuck Watson, director of research and development at Enki Holdings in Savannah, Georgia, told Automotive News “If it was a traditional hurricane it would be a $2 billion storm, maybe $3 billion, but that is not what this storm is about,” Watson said.

Now that Harvey is a near-stagnant tropical storm, its damaging winds have given way to rising floodwaters, tidal surges, and tornadoes. The worst that could happen is if swings back into the gulf and re-intensifies Monday or Tuesday, before once again swinging back into the southeastern Texas.

Harvey is bombarding a region that has a cluster of refineries that process roughly five million barrels of oil a day. About one million barrels a day of crude refining capacity in Texas have been shut by companies including Valero Energy Corp., according to numerous company statements, press releases, and people familiar with the situation. Automotive News believes the storm’s path through the Gulf stalled 24 percent of the area’s oil production along with the entire port of Corpus Christi, which ships the largest amount of U.S. oil overseas.

How dramatically the storm will affect the region’s automotive output is still unknown, however. While shipping through Texas has been stalled for the rest of the week, supplier routes up from Mexico have been shifted to avoid the Eastern portion of the state.

Local area dealerships are also concerned. With low-lying areas seeing feet of water, many shops are worried that they may lose their entire inventory. Mitchell Dale, co-owner of McRee Ford in Dickinson, Texas, just south of Houston, said his dealership closed Friday morning to allow employees the opportunity to leave town.

“There’s only so much you can do,” Dale said. “Our main concern is our employees, and making sure they had time to leave if they want to.”

Dale said Harvey is the worst storm the store has experienced since 1979, when tropical storm Claudette delivered more than 30 inches of water into the building. “We were totally shut down for about two weeks,” he said. “We had to replenish inventory and it just creates a real mess.”

#HurricaneHarvery This is the carmax behind my apartment complex. First floor is also flooding.

— kristen (@kb11311) August 27, 2017

In addition to the dealer vehicles, many drivers were trapped in their own cars over the weekend as roads ahead of them quickly flooded. The Twitter account of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, which includes most of Houston, was bombarded with rescue requests and found itself unable to respond to all of them.

“All agencies care but everyone [is] simply operating at maximum capacity,” Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted at one point. The account has since asked residents to use 911 to request emergency assistance and urged drivers not to attempt driving around barricades or through flooded roads.



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