The days-long storm, Hurricane Harvey, is not done yet. Forecasters expect some areas in Texas to be inundated with as much as 50 inches of rain. Closed airports are adding to the huge logistical problems of rescuing people trapped by floodwaters. In the days to come, the closings are also sure to affect the delivery of much needed supplies, including food and water, to what are likely to be tens of thousands of displaced people in a dozen Texas counties up and down the Gulf Coast and beyond.
The two main commercial airports in Houston are closed, with thousands of flights canceled. Hundreds of airport workers at both Intercontinental (KIAH) and Houston Hobby were trapped on site and unable to leave the grounds and hundreds more were unable to travel to work. Air traffic services around Houston are spotty as well, due to flooding and controllers and other ATC personnel being prevented by floodwaters from reaching their posts.
Aransas County Airport in Rockport, located just northeast of Corpus Christi and 200 miles southwest of Houston, took a direct hit from Harvey. High winds, estimated at greater than 100 mph, destroyed a number of hangars and the airplanes in them.
All along the coast and inland, disaster relief efforts are under way. At this point, the effort is saving the lives of those people trapped by fast rising flood waters. By the time many realized it was time to evacuate, it was already too late to do so. The emergency response has been nothing short of heroic. Numerous Department of Defense, law enforcement and other non-military organizations are busy at this hour saving lives, and private citizens and television news crews have filmed the rescues of a number of people trapped, in their homes, in their swamped cars, and out in the open.
In addition to IAH and Hobby, as of Monday morning, a number of GA airports remain closed. According to FAA NOTAMS, Houston Southwest is closed for the next several days, Houston Executive is open only to emergency and disaster relief operations, both runways at David Wayne Hooks are closed. Baytown is closed. Bay City is closed. Mustang Beach is closed. And this is a partial list. Several other area GA airports were reporting standing water on runway surfaces, in some cases as much as a few inches of water.
Every pilot wants to help, but at this point, the need is not for relief supply flights but emergency rescue operations. As the toll of Harvey becomes apparent, which will surely take days, weeks and months, we’ll know more about how we in GA can help. For now, first responder groups are suggesting we offer support in the form of financial contributions to the Red Cross and other relief organizations who at this minute are on the front lines.
Here’s an article from vox.com detailing some funding options.
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