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Monday, November 6, 2017

Summarizing Hurricane Harvey’s Environmental Impacts in the Houston-Galveston Region

Hurricane Harvey

HARC’s Summarizing Hurricane Harvey’s Environmental Impacts

Written by Dr. Stephanie Glenn, Program Director, Hydrology and Watersheds

Hurricane Harvey brought record rainfall to the Houston-Galveston region and the Texas coast. After making landfall near Rockport, Texas as a Category 4 storm on August 25, 2017 and lingering for more than four days, Harvey dropped more than 50 inches of rain in parts of Houston, leaving behind a devastated region. The impacts of the storm were far-reaching, including loss of lives, homes and livelihoods.

In addition to the social and economic impacts, flood events raise short- and long-term environmental and public health concerns such as bacteria, oil, gasoline and chemicals in floodwaters, toxics associated with Superfund sites, and air quality. Because of hazards associated with gathering environmental data during and in the aftermath of hurricane and flood events, the availability and analysis of environmental impact data is often an obstacle to better understanding effects of these extreme events. During and after Hurricane Harvey, a number of public and private organizations mobilized to gather environmental impact data relating to Hurricane Harvey.

The "Summarizing Hurricane Harvey’s Environmental Impacts in the Houston-Galveston Region" story map summarizes available environmental datasets to detail impacts associated with Hurricane Harvey. HARC worked with regional partners to acquire and analyze data and information about the flooding and related impacts such as storm-related spills, pollutants, Superfund impacts, water quality, air quality, and power generation. The resulting analysis is made available to the public through narrative summaries, maps, and infographics in an ESRI story map. Users can also download available raw data and learn about the organizations in the Greater Houston region that organized to gather environmental and public health impact data in the days immediately following Hurricane Harvey’s landfall.