Media and political establishment begin to move on as Houston residents return to devastated city
5 September 2017
As the floodwaters begin to recede along the Texas Gulf Coast, hundreds of thousands of displaced residents are returning to scenes of devastation.
Approximately 156,000 dwellings have been flooded. An estimated one million cars have been destroyed in a sprawling city where access to a vehicle is a basic necessity. The city of Beaumont, Texas, east of Houston, still does not have clean drinking water, nearly a week after the city’s water treatment facilities went offline.
Conditions have been created for any number of public health crises, from mosquito-borne diseases and bacteria-infested floodwaters, to contamination from chemical plants, oil refineries and Superfund sites. Authorities carried out a controlled burn on Sunday at a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, where fires have been raging after floodwaters knocked out the facility’s generators. The immense psychological toll of the hurricane will also likely produce a mental health crisis in the region, as in New Orleans, when the area experienced a suicide epidemic in the months after Katrina.
The devastation along the Gulf Coast could be repeated within a few days by Hurricane Irma, which has been upgraded to Category 4 and it makes its way through the Atlantic Ocean. Current forecasts predict that Irma will pass near Puerto Rico, Haiti and Cuba, before making landfall in the United States near Miami, the 8th largest metropolitan area.
While the full impact of Hurricane Harvey is only beginning to be felt, the American political establishment and the corporate media are moving to put it behind them as quickly as possible. Over the past two days, their focus has shifted to North Korea,…