Recent Storm Damage Posts
PREPARE FOR FLOODS AND STORM DAMAGE
Unfortunately, the likelihood of floods is increasing across the U.S., even in areas that aren’t usually prone to excess water. But the fact remains that if rain is possible, so are floods.
A flood officially occurs when two or more acres, or two or more properties, have been partially or completely inundated with water.
But if you are facing a flood, the last thing you’ll be worried about is the official definition. You’ll be worried about your safety and the safety of your property.
This blog contains helpful flood preparation tips - not to worry, none of them suggest building an ark.
- Back-Up Power In an emergency, you should have a generator. It’s impossible to know whether or not a storm or flooding will take out the power – and you don’t want to be left in the dark. The type of generator you need depends on a few different variables.
Don’t forget: water is a conduit for electricity, and after a flood you’ll be facing a lot of excess water. When you know that flooding is imminent, move all your appliances and electrical devices to safer ground.
- Risk Level Before flooding is expected, you should become familiar with your property’s risk for floods. Local government and FEMA are good resources for this. A familiarity with flood zones, risk, and causes is the first step of preparation. For Westfield, NJ, and the surrounding areas, start here.
Another smart risk-management tool is a weather radio. Purchase a weather radio and learn how to use it, including what the different emergency notifications mean.
- Emergency Prep It’s important to have an emergency preparedness kit that can handle any emergency. But you should also have supplies tailor to specific severe weather events. Because floodwater contains contaminants, be sure to pack plenty of clean and fresh water. Choose a waterproof case for your kit and all it contains, like important documents. For a more detailed list on what should be in your emergency kit, read this.
- Evacuation Plan Your evacuation plan should include two things. One: become familiar with the local and federal government plans for evacuation. Second: create a personal evacuation plan and involve all members of the family. The plan should be practiced until everyone has it memorized. Be sure to include an emergency communication plan as part of the overall evacuation plan.
Many floods are caused by severe storms and excess rain. Remember that significant storm damage may be caused and may not be noticeable until after flood waters recede.
To get life back on track after flooding and storm damage, call SERVPRO® of Central Union County.
Preparedness for Pets: After the Storm
Pets are just as important as any family member to most people, so why would you not make them a part of your preparedness planning? There are several things you can do to make sure they stay safe as well during an emergency. Pet Emergency Kit Ready.gov/animals lists the below items as essential to building your Pet Emergency Kit.
- Food: At least a three-day supply in an airtight, waterproof container.
- Water: At least three days of water specifically for your pets.
- Medicines and medical records.
- Important documents: Registration information, adoption papers and vaccination documents. Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.
- First aid kit: Cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Including a pet first aid reference book is a good idea too.
7.Collar or harness with ID tag, rabies tag and a leash.
8.Crate or pet carrier: Have a sturdy, safe crate or carrier in case you need to evacuate. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.
- Sanitation: Pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach.
- A picture of you and your pet together: If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics. Familiar items. Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.
Evacuations While practicing fire escape or evacuation plans, be sure to include pets. If an evacuation happens, don’t leave pets behind as they can be lost or injured.
Identification Microchipping pets is a great way to locate them. Most veterinary clinics and shelters have scanners that will read the microchip information to help find a pet’s owners. Be sure to take four-legged friends into consideration when planning for emergencies. Visit ready.gov/ animals for further tips and safety precautions to think about for you or your insured’s families’ pets, or your tenants pets’ during a disaster.
Storm Damage: What are the Causes?
In the past few months, New Jersey has been experiencing a high level of heavy rainfall. Did you know heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding is one of the common types of damage from storms? There are ten common types of storms and being familiar with them aids in storm preparation and damage prevention.
SERVPRO® of Central Union County knows how important it is to homeowners to keep homes safe from storm damage.
The 5 most common storms are:
- Snow storm
- Hail storms
Since Union County is so far north and so close to the coast, it’s very possible that you may experience each of these kinds of events.
The fact is that hurricanes cause damage far past the coast. That storms cause damage is obvious, but the kinds of damage they cause and how is not always known.
Since hurricanes have long-term effects (Hurricane Sandy impacted 24 states), it’s very important to be educated on that type of storm in particular.
Hurricane damage is caused by three distinct but related storm elements: storm surge, floods, and wind.
Storm surge is when water rises far past the predicted tide level. This rise occurs because the wind from the hurricane pushes the water toward the shore, giving it nowhere to go, except up and in. The force of storm surge can be so strong as to destroy buildings and roads.
Storm surge is a direct cause of floods. The extra water from storm surge can reach far inland, causing widespread floods as it goes. Hurricanes can also cause rainfall as far as 100 miles past where the hurricane actually hits. Even tropical storms that don’t reach hurricane level can cause excess rainfall and thus floods.
Wind from hurricanes can reach speeds of 74 mph up to 155 mph. Winds of this speed cause widespread destruction by uprooting trees, downing power lines, and carrying debris and tossing it against other structures, even causing roofs to lift. It’s not unheard of for hurricane winds to form tornadoes.
Storm surge, floods, and winds can cause damage that is far-reaching, unexpected, and overwhelming. You can take precautions by packing an emergency preparedness kit, installing weather-resistant features to your house, and always following official safety orders or directives.
Storm damage clean up can be exhausting and dangerous. Don’t do it alone. Call SERVPRO® of Central Union County for expert storm damage restoration services.
SERVPRO Is Ready For Any Storm
SERVPRO of Central Union County specializes in storm and flood damage restoration. Our crews are highly trained, and we use specialized equipment to restore your property to its pre-storm condition.
Since we are locally owned and operated, we are able to respond quicker with the right resources, which is extremely important. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces the restoration cost.
Resources to Handle Floods and Storms
When storms hit Central Union County, we can scale our resources to handle a large storm or flooding disaster. We can access equipment and personnel from a network of 1,650 Franchises across the country and elite Disaster Recovery Teams that are strategically located throughout the United States.
Have Storm or Flood Damage? Call Us Today at (908) 233-7070
How to Handle Storm Damage
When storm damage hits Central Union County homes and businesses, it's important to know what to do until SERVPRO crews get on site.
- Call SERVPRO of Central Union County at (908) 233-7070 immediately upon discovering damage.
- Shut off the source of water (ie: replace sump pump) or contact a qualified party to stop the water source.
- Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting. Use a shop vac or carpet cleaning machine to suck water from carpets. Do Not use a household vacuum cleaner.
- Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.
- Remove electronics, documents, sensitive or valuable items to a dry place.
- Use wooden clothespins to keep furniture skirting and window curtains off damp floors.
- Pull carpet back from the walls to limit water wicking into the drywall.
Don't forget that when storm damage strikes, SERVPRO of Central Union County is here to help.
Get Ready For The Thunderstorm
SERVPRO of Central Union County cares gratefully about the safety of our customers. Thunderstorms can be a scary and overwhelming event. Here are some safety precautions that can be taken to insure your well-being.
- Keep yourself updated with news reports by listening to your local weather radios.
- When inside, stay off corded phones, computers, and other electronic equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity or plumbing.
- Unplug any appliances or electrical items such as TVs, computers, and air conditioners. If you are not able to unplug, turn it off.
- Secure any doors and shutters. Make sure that you remove any dead or rotting branches from trees that could potentially fall and cause damage to your home or anyone.
Remember, Storm damage is likely to occur depending on the intensity of the storm. For any services you may need whether an emergency or a quote, please feel free to give us a call at (908) 233-7070
No matter where you live, you'll encounter storms. Most of the time these are routine, but some cause serious and dangerous problems. Here are tips for preparing for storms, and weathering them safely.
- Always keep a battery-powered radio in your home so that you can tune to radio stations if you lose electricity. Check or change the batteries frequently.
- Keep a flashlight in an easily accessible spot on every floor of your home. Check the batteries monthly, and replace them as needed.
- Keep a supply of candles on hand for power failures.
- As a safety precaution before leaving the house on vacation, unplug all electrical appliances except for those lights connected to automatic timers.
- If you live in a storm-prone area, nail down roof shingles or use adequate adhesive to keep them from blowing off in a violent wind. For roofs with shingles that are not the seal-down type, apply a little dab of roofing cement under each tab.
- A lightning-protection system should offer an easy, direct path for the bolt to follow into the ground and thus prevent injury or damage. Grounding rods (at least two for a house) should be placed at opposite corners of the house.
- Don't go out during a hurricane unless you have to; however, if flooding threatens, seek high ground, and follow the instructions of civil defense personnel.
- When a major storm is imminent, close shutters, board windows, or tape the inside of larger panes with an "X" along the full length of their diagonals. Even a light material like masking tape may give the glass the extra margin of strength it needs to resist cracking.
- When a tornado threatens, leave windows slightly ajar.
- The basement is not a good shelter during a tornado -- it's too close to gas pipes, sewer pipes, drains, and cesspools. A better shelter would be underground, far from the house (in case the roof falls) and away from the gas and sewer systems. Let all family members know where the shelter is.
- Keep an eye on large trees -- even healthy ones -- that could damage your house if felled in a storm. Cut them back, if necessary.
We've covered numerous key tips for preparing for storms and getting through them safely. Now you can regard gathering clouds with a little less trepidation.
After a storm if you need assistance you can always reach out to us here in SERVPRO of Central Union County at 908-233-7070.
Hurricane Maria Aftermath
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Two weeks after Hurricane Maria toppled Puerto Rico's communications towers, wrecked its electrical grid and knocked out power to water systems, medical officials said the island's health system is "on life support."
"We have hospitals that are working, but eventually we are going to have to transfer patients," said Carlos Méndez, an associate administrator at the Auxilio Mutuo Hospital in Hato Rey, one of the island’s top medical facilities.
Among the multiple impacts that have left the island’s medical system deeply damaged:
-Patients are dying because of complications related to the primitive conditions and difficult transportation issues so many island residents now endure.
-A lack of transportation in small towns makes it difficult to transfer patients to larger hospitals.
-An administrator in a small-town hospital has to drive her car to an ambulance company a mile away to ask for a patient to be transferred to a larger hospital.
-Severe lack of communications on the island has resulted in less triage and coordination between hospitals, and more patients arriving at large medical centers than usual, which has stretched capacity.
-Doctors are afraid to discharge patients after surgery to places with unsanitary conditions and where care and transportation may not exist, adding strain to an already strained system.
On Wednesday, health officials in Puerto Rico toured the 1,000-bed U.S. Naval Hospital Ship Comfort as it docked in San Juan, the capital. It is the largest floating medical facility in the U.S. military and the ship will be used to help deal with the medical crisis facing this island of 3.4 million residents.
Méndez, whose hospital has Puerto Rico's only fully functioning ward for cardio-thoracic surgery — for treatments inside the chest — said the U.S.S. Comfort’s arrival comes as the island's health system "right now is on life support."
Getting water, needing an ambulance
Across the island in the hill town of Adjuntas, near Puerto Rico’s southern coast, doctors and nurses at the Adjuntas medical center celebrated Wednesday the first shipment of water since Hurricane Maria blasted the town.
But the celebrations were cut short when Gladys Galarza, a nurse, brought a patient's electrocardiogram (EKG) chart to emergency room physician, Jorge Gagos.
The chart showed an abnormal rhythm.
The patient, an elderly woman with a history of heart trouble who was complaining of chest pains, needed a better-equipped hospital — and an ambulance to get there.
"We have a sick person and no ambulance," Gagos said. "Normally we have a phone to call. The nearest ambulance is one mile away."
Lacking a radio or a satellite phone, Gagos asked a hospital administrator to get in her car and deliver the message to the ambulance company, a private contractor. That led to an argument over payment. Eventually, after more than an hour, the ambulance showed up and took the woman to San Lucan Hospital in Ponce.
As he prepared to tour the Comfort, Carlos Gomez Marcial, emergency medical director at Centro Medico de Puerto Rico, the island’s top-level trauma center, listed the top challenges facing patients and hospitals: Water, food, communications.
"We can’t communicate with anybody," Gomez Marcial said. "Less than 10% of communications towers are standing. For command and control, it’s very hard to get things done without communications."
As a result, administrators cannot plan for receiving new patients. And without communications, the process that usually results in triaging patients based on how sick they are, and available beds in trauma hospitals, doesn’t work.
Centro Medico de Puerto Rico operated on generator power for three days after the storm, and contended with water shortages. It was finally connected to the grid on Saturday and is now nearing capacity.
After touring the floating hospital, Gomez Marcial said he would confer with other hospital officials on which patients to transfer.
"When they arrive by helicopter there’s no way to turn them away," added Juan Angel Nazario Fernandez, Centro Medico de Puerto Rico's senior medical officer.
Outside, in a series of tents set up in the hospital's parking lot, a low-level treatment center run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) is attempting to relieve some of that pressure.
“Our mission here is to decompress the emergency room,” said Lesa Ansell of Dallas, Tex., DMAT’s chief nursing officer here, and part of one of 18 teams across the island.
“We triage patients, treat some here, and send trauma and surgery patients inside."
Bad conditions, sicker patients
Orlando López de Victoria, the only cardio-thoracic surgeon still on the island, said more patients have arrived sicker than usual because of the difficult conditions.
Some have died.
On Monday, he operated on a patient whose transfer to Auxilio Mutuo in Hato Rey was delayed because there was no gasoline. By the time she arrived, her heart was so weak she didn't survive the operation.
On Tuesday, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria from 16 to 34, citing several similar cases as part of the reason for the increase.
"Yesterday, one of my patients came with a very infected wound because he has no water to take a shower," López de Victoria said.
Other cardiac surgeons left the island before the hurricane.
"I decided to stay because I love my country, my family and my patients," he said.
For more information, or if you need help with flooding, or any water damage give us a call here at SERVPRO of Central Union NJ 908-233-7070
Tropical Storm Nate is On His Way
A newly formed tropical storm in the southwestern Caribbean is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane that could affect the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The system, formerly a tropical depression, strengthened into a tropical storm near the coast of Nicaragua this morning. Tropical Storm Nate was moving across northeastern Nicaragua, churning 50 miles northwest of Puerto Cabezas, as of 2 p.m. ET, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The tropical storm is pounding Nicaragua with rain heavy enough to cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. Up to 30 inches of rain is possible in some areas of Central America through Friday night.
Amid busy hurricane season, National Weather Service hampered by shortage of meteorologists
The rest of the 2017 hurricane season will be 'active' with more storms to come, NOAA meteorologist says
Tropical Storm Nate is expected to be near Cancun, Mexico, by Friday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.
A hurricane watch has already been issued for Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, including Cancun.
Nate could reach hurricane status as early as Saturday while entering the Gulf of Mexico. Its trajectory has it on track to make landfall somewhere between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama, on Saturday night or Sunday morning as a weak Category 1 hurricane, with winds of about 80 mph. Then, the storm is expected to weaken to a post-tropical system, according to the National Hurricane Center.
But the track and the storm's strength are subject to change.
Residents from Louisiana to Florida are being warned to monitor the system as it approaches this weekend. The area is still feeling the effects of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
So far, the Atlantic has seen five major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) during the 2017 season; two short of the record set in 2005, when seven major hurricanes hit.
If you need any information on storm safety, flooding, and water damage precautions do give us a call here in SERVPRO of Central Union NJ at 908-233-7070
Hurricane Irma is on the Way
Meteorologists have been shocked at how rapidly Hurricane Irma has been strengthening, and they are already warning that if it hits the United States as a high-level category 5 storm the devastation would be absolutely unprecedented. Of course, we are already dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and many experts are already telling us that the economic damage done by that storm will easily surpass any other disaster in all of U.S. history. But there is a very real possibility that Hurricane Irma could be even worse. According to the National Hurricane Center, at 5 PM on Friday Irma already had sustained winds of 130 miles per hour. But it is still very early, and as you will see below, next week it is expected to potentially develop into a category 5 storm with winds of 180 miles per hour or more.
I suppose that it is appropriate that such a powerful storm has a very powerful name. In old German, the name “Irma” actually means “war goddess”…
The name Irma is a German baby name. In German the meaning of the name Irma is: Universal, from the Old German ‘irmin’. War goddess.
Irma began forming on Wednesday, and it intensified at a faster rate than any storm that we have seen in nearly 20 years…
Hurricane Irma formed early Wednesday in the warm waters off the coast of West Africa — and took just 30 hours to strengthen to a Category 3. That’s the fastest intensification rate in almost two decades. By Friday afternoon, the storm had also grown noticeably larger in size with a well-defined eye, a classic sign of a strong hurricane.
Though Irma poses no immediate threat to land, the outlook is ominous: In the Atlantic, Irma is expected to pass through some abnormally warm waters — the primary fuel source for storm systems. The official National Hurricane Center forecast says it will remain at major hurricane status for at least the next five days, and, in a worst-case scenario, Irma could eventually grow into one of the strongest hurricanes ever seen in the Atlantic.
So how powerful could Irma eventually become?
According to Michael Ventrice of the Weather Channel, Irma could easily become a “super typhoon” with “sustained speeds of over 180mph”…
Veteran USA forecaster Michael Ventrice posted the track model on Twitter overnight and warned it looked like the storm could be a “super typhoon”, with sustained speeds of over 180mph.
He wrote: “These are the highest windspeed forecasts I’ve ever seen in my 10 yrs of Atlantic hurricane forecasting.
“Irma is another retiree candidate.”
The scale we have right now really never envisioned storms that powerful. In fact, some have suggested that we need to add a “category 6” to describe the kind of “super storms” that are now developing in the Atlantic.
One of the reasons why Irma is so unique is because it is a “Cape Verde hurricane”…
There are a few factors that worry hurricane forecasters more about this storm when compared to the myriad other tropical storms and hurricanes that tend to form in the Atlantic.
First, it’s a so-called Cape Verde storm, having formed off the west coast of Africa. These storms tend to be the ones that go on to affect the U.S., after gathering strength for many days during their march across the ocean. For example, Hurricane Andrew, which was the most recent Category 5 storm to hit the U.S. in 1992, was a Cape Verde-type storm.
Because they begin at a relatively low latitude and move west rather than northwest, it can be harder for upper level winds blowing across North America to pick up and steer these types of storms away from the U.S. coast.
Let us hope that this storm does get steered away from our coastlines at some point, but so far that is just not happening.
Many hurricanes are often weakened by wind shear, but that isn’t happening to Irma either. In fact, CNN is reporting that “Irma will remain in a low-shear environment for the next several days”…
A strong high-pressure ridge to the north of Irma, over the Atlantic, is steering the storm to the west and limiting the wind shear in the upper levels of the atmosphere, which has allowed the storm to grow so quickly. Wind shear is like hurricane kryptonite, and prevents storms from forming or gaining strength.
Unfortunately, Irma will remain in a low-shear environment for the next several days, so there isn’t much hope that Irma will weaken any time soon.
Basically, conditions are nearly ideal for a “super storm” to develop, and if Irma does make it to the U.S. the destruction that it causes could be absolutely off the charts.
Of course, at this point, there is no guarantee that it will ever reach the United States. But if it does, and if it is still a category 5 storm when it arrives, we could be facing an event unlike anything that we have ever seen before.
Do you remember Hurricane Katrina? Well, scientists now know that when it hit New Orleans it had already been downgraded to just a “low category 3” storm…
To put this all in perspective, Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane out over some hot spots in the Gulf. But when it hit New Orleans, scientists now know, Katrina had winds at a low Category 3, and much of them Category 2, including the “left side winds” that then came down from the north and pushed the surge-swollen waters of Lake Pontchartrain over and through NOLA’s levees. (Hurricanes spin counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere, so when Katrina came ashore just east of New Orleans, its winds hit the city from the north.)
Only three Category 5s have come ashore in the United States in the past century — the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, Camille in 1969 and Andrew in 1992.
And Hurricane Harvey was just a category 4 storm.
If Hurricane Irma were to make landfall as a category 5 storm with sustained winds of 180 miles per hour, it would rip buildings and everything else in its path to shreds.
Next week we shall find out what happens. Let us hope for the best, but let us also get prepared for the worst.
Article posted with permission from The Economic Collapse Blog
Take a look at the future of America: The Beginning of the End and then prepare
Hurricane Harvey: The Devastation and What Comes Next
Overwhelmed by the news since Harvey made landfall? Here is an overview of coverage by The New York Times.
The latest can be found in Thursday’s live storm briefing.
A region eyes recovery
With rainfall topping 47 inches in some areas, Harvey devastated aswath of Texas stretching east from Houston. “Our whole city is underwater,” Derrick Freeman, the mayor of Port Arthur, Texas, said on Wednesday.
A Times reporter shared his account of returning home to nearby Beaumont.
But even as the rain and wind moved on, the region continued to suffer the consequences of the storm. Explosions rocked a chemical plant early Thursday, and many hazards still lurk beneath the floodwaters that soaked the region.
As the sun returned on Wednesday, residents emerged to assess the damage.
Here are some of the most powerful photos of the devastation and a before-and-after look at the storm’s impact.
If you can do so safely, please share your own photos and videos here, or leave us a voice mail message. And listen to Thursday’s episode of “The Daily” to learn about how Houston was built to flood.
A look at the human toll
At least 38 people have died so far, including a Houston police officer, a family whose van was trapped beneath surging floodwater, and a mother whose shivering 3-year-old was found clinging to her unresponsive body.
The survivors face hurdles of their own and aid may be slow in coming. The difficulty of distributing aid was on display this week as many supply trucks arrived at a hub near San Antonio, but few went out.
Tens of thousands of people filled overcrowded shelters, the management of which remains “the biggest battle that we have right now,” Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said on Thursday.
Vice President Mike Penceand other cabinet officials were expected to meet with storm survivors around Corpus Christi on Thursday, two days after President Trump himself visited the area.
Here’s a look at how victims sought out help online.
What made Harvey so powerful?
What set Harvey apart was its rain. Once it made landfall, the storm essentially stalled, turning roads into raging rivers. Scientists say it was fueled by a deadly combination of environmental factors.
And while it has been called a “500-year flood,” that term may be misleading: a similar storm may not be as far off as you might think.
For many people, the images of inundated streets and victims on rooftops evoked comparisons to Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans, survivors of Katrina saw themselves in the scenes from Houston.
These maps track Harvey’s path through Texas and Louisiana. And here’s how experts prepared for the storm and worked to warn the public.
How to help
Many organizations are helping victims on the ground. Here are a few of them; a fuller list can be found here.
• The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund was established by Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston and is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.
• The Houston Food Bank, the Galveston County Food Bank and the Food Bank of Corpus Christi are accepting online donations.
• The Houston Humane Society and the San Antonio Humane Society are helping animals affected by the storm.
• Save the Children is accepting donations.
Some scams are circulating online. Here are a few things to watch out for.
Exploding Chemical Plant
As water began to recede in some parts of flood-ravaged Houston and as Harvey, now a tropical depression, shifted its wrath to the Beaumont-Port Arthur area of Texas, there were reports early Thursday that a chemical plant at risk of exploding had done just that.
There were two explosions at the Arkema plant in Crosby, about 30 miles northeast of downtown Houston, around 2 a.m., the French chemicals company that owns the plant said in a statement.
It said there was a risk of further explosions at the site.
“We want local residents to be aware that the product is stored in multiple locations on the site, and a threat of additional explosion remains,” Arkema said.
CBS19, the Houston affiliate, reported the two explosions at the plant and showed photos of black smoke. The blasts were also reported by Fox 26.
The company had already ordered all workers to leave the damaged plant, and Harris County ordered the evacuation of residents within a 1.5-mile radius. After the explosion, at least one Harris County deputy was taken to the hospital after inhaling fumes from the plant, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter.
Later, the sheriff’s office tweeted that company officials believed that the smoke inhaled by the 10 deputies was “a nontoxic irritant.”
Richard Rowe, the chief executive of Arkema’s North American division, told Reuters that the company had expected the chemicals to catch fire.
The Arkema plant manufactures organic peroxides, which are used in making plastic and other materials. When the chemicals warm, they start to decompose, which creates more heat and can quickly lead to a rapid, explosive reaction. Some organic peroxides also produce flammable vapors as they decompose.
The plant was shut down last Friday in anticipation of the storm, and a skeleton crew of 11 was left behind to ensure that the chemicals, which are kept in cold storage, remained safe.
But Arkema said the plant had been without power since Sunday, and the torrential rains and flooding had damaged backup generators. With the storage warehouse warming up, the crew transferred the chemicals to diesel-powered refrigerated trailers, but some of those stopped working as well.
Here is the latest:
• The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression on Wednesday night. It is expected move through central Louisiana on Wednesday night, then move through northeastern Louisiana and northwestern Mississippi on Thursday.
• Vice President Mike Pence is expected to visit four locations around Corpus Christi, Tex., on Thursday, to meet with storm survivors, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details of the trip were still being worked out.
• Officials have reported at least 38 deaths that were related or suspected to be related to the storm. The victims include a police officer who died on his way to work; a mother who was swept into a canal while her child survived by clinging to her; a woman who died when a tree fell on her mobile home; and a family that is believed to have drowned while trying to escape floodwaters in a van.
• More than 32,000 people were in shelters in Texas, and 30,000 shelter beds were available, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said. Houston officials said the city’s largest shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center had 8,000 and was no longer accepting evacuees. New evacuees would be taken to NRG Center, a conference hall in Houston.
• Houston’s two airports reopened, and airport officials said on Wednesday night that United Airlines had boarded a flight from Los Angeles bound for Houston. Five more flights were on their way and three aircrafts were scheduled to leave the Houston area. International flights are expected to resume Thursday.
• The governor said 210,000 people have registered with FEMA for assistance.
• The National Guard has conducted 8,500 rescues since the storm began, Mr. Abbott said, and the police and firefighters in the Houston area have done a similar number. About 24,000 National Guard troops will soon be deployed for disaster recovery in Texas.
• Times journalists are chronicling the storm and its aftermath. Here is a collection of the most powerful photographs, and a guide to our coverage.
• Follow us for more information:
Hurricane Matthew Information-Red Cross Updates
Wind damage from Hurricane Matthew
Since Hurricane Matthew first threatened the United States, Red Cross and community shelters have provided over 70,000 overnight stays.
This massive sheltering effort has provided nearly as many overnight stays in shelters as after Superstorm Sandy.
American Red Cross Response Along the East Coast:
Since Hurricane Matthew first threatened the U.S., Red Cross and community partners have served more than 137,000 meals and snacks, and provided 74,000 overnight stays.
The Red Cross has mobilized 3,000 disaster workers, 155 response vehicles—nearly half of our total fleet—and more than 100 trailers filled with water, ready-to-eat meals, cots, blankets, kitchen items, cleaning supplies and comfort kits, insect repellant, gloves, masks, shovels, rakes, coolers and more.
More volunteers, vehicles and supplies are being mobilized now to supplement relief efforts.
As conditions permit, Red Cross response vehicles will begin circulating through the hardest hit areas to begin delivering food and relief supplies
Even in areas where homes were on higher ground, further away from the water and less prone to flooding, wind damage from Hurricane Matthew caused older trees in historic and established communities in Georgia and South Carolina to fall onto homes, crushing them due to the age and size of the trees. Trees and large limbs covered streets and cars.
New Long-Range NJ Winter Forecast Released, And it's Not Good
A new long-range NJ winter forecast has been released, and You should be prepared.
If the latest long-range forecast is correct, it's a good time to start shopping for a new snow shovel.
AccuWeather, in its new long-range forecast, predicts it will feel like an extended winter for New Jersey and Pennsylvania as cold and snowy conditions will likely stretch into spring 2017.
Frequent storms across the northeastern U.S. — particularly in the Northeast — this winter may lead to an above-normal season for snowfall.
"I think the Northeast is going to see more than just a few, maybe several, systems in the course of the season," AccuWeather Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said in a news release.
Unlike last season, in which most of winter's snowfall came from a few heavy-hitting storms, this winter will last into the early or middle part of spring and will feature frequent snow events.
Pastelok said much of the accumulation will be in New Jersey, the Philadelphia metropolitan area and south of Washington, D.C. These areas will see a handful of changeover systems, where falling snow transitions to rain and sleet.
"But still, Boston, Hartford, along the coastal areas up into Connecticut and southern New England, they can still have a fair amount of snow," he said.
Overall, it's predicted that the region will total a below-normal number of subzero days, though the temperature will average 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit lower than last year.
Winter will slowly creep into the Southeast this season, as very mild air hangs on throughout the month of December.
However, the new year will usher in a pattern change as a sudden burst of cold air penetrates the region.
"I am afraid that we have a shot at seeing a damaging freeze in central Florida in mid- to late January this year," Pastelok said.
The Old Farmer's Almanac, meanwhile, has released its long-range weather predictions for the rest of 2016 and into 2017. If the publication's long-range forecast is accurate, we should expect above-normal temperatures this winter in the central part of the Atlantic Corridor region, which includes New Jersey.
AccuWeather, meanwhile, says a chill could spell disaster for the area's citrus farmers.
Cold air will once again retreat following January and the threat is predicted to shift to severe weather.
"Places like Atlanta, Chattanooga, even up into Roanoke, they could have some severe weather," Pastelok said. "But if the storm track is a little farther east, then you're looking more like Tallahassee to Savannah and, maybe, Charleston."
NJ Weather Forecast: Hazardous Weather Expected
Hazardous weather is expected this weekend as several New Jersey towns dealt with serious flooding on Friday.
The National Weather Service issued alerts warning New Jersey residents that persistent heavy rain could lead to flooding up and down the state.
Indeed, a Coastal Flood Advisory was posted for Hudson and Essex counties and along the coast to Salem County, with minor flooding possible.
Rainfall intensity is expected to decrease Friday, although we should continue to see rain through the weekend, according to the NWS.
Hurricane Matthew, meanwhile, appeared to be on a track heading north from the Caribbean, although forecasters say it's too early to say whether it will impact the Northeast.
Communities in North Jersey, down to the Jersey Shore and in South Jersey, meanwhile, dealt with a day's full of rain that flooded a number of streets on Friday.
Here is the weather forecast for the weekend:
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Friday: A chance of rain or drizzle. Cloudy, with a high near 66. Northeast wind 14 to 17 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent. New precipitation amounts between a 10th and quarter of an inch possible.
Friday night: A chance of showers, mainly after 9pm. Cloudy, with a low around 62. Northeast wind 8 to 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50 percent. New precipitation amounts between a 10th and quarter of an inch possible.
Saturday: Showers likely, mainly before 2pm. Cloudy, with a high near 74. East wind 8 to 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Saturday night: A chance of showers. Cloudy, with a low around 62. East wind 5 to 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Sunday: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 76. Northeast wind around 6 mph becoming south in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent. New precipitation amounts of less than a 10th of an inch possible.
Sunday night: A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 61. Chance of precipitation is 20 percent.
Monday: A chance of showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 75. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent
Tropical Storm Hermine Expected to Become Hurricane, Could Impact N.J., Forecasters Say
Tropical Storm Hermine is now expected to become a hurricane and may impact New Jersey this weekend, bringing several severe impacts that could be damaging to the area, forecasters say.
Hermine is expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall Thursday, according to The Weather Channel. Winds could exceed 70 mph when it hits Florida, and strong wind gusts could come to the New Jersey area by Sunday or Monday.
The storm, currently located over the Gulf of Mexico, is expected to move north toward the mid-Atlantic region this weekend, bringing with it a renewed threat of rip currents through the busy Labor Day weekend.
Beachgoers are being told that they should enter the water only if lifeguards are present, according to a briefing package put together by the National Weather Service.
Most rip current deaths occur on beaches when and where no life guards are on duty. Beach erosion is also possible, according to the briefing.
The storms could also bring these elements to the region:
- Strong Winds: There is a chance for tropical storm force winds - 39 to 73 mph - this Labor Day weekend as Tropical Storm Hermine, or its remnants, move north.
- The strongest winds should occur Saturday and Sunday. An inland path would result in lower winds.
- Heavy rain: There is a risk for heavy rain over much of the mid-Atlantic area. However, specific rainfall amounts are highly dependent on the eventual track of the storm. Recent dry weather will lessen the severity of any stream and river flooding that may develop.
- Street flooding and flash flooding are greater threats.
- Storm surge: It is still too early to determine if storm surge will occur with Hermine. A inland path would lessen the threat from surge. However, astronomical tides will be running high from the new moon on Sept. 1, so less onshore flow is needed for coastal flooding to develop.
- Timing: The second round of increased rip current risk (from Hermine) could begin Friday, then persist through Monday (Labor Day).
- Strong winds and heavy rain are most likely Saturday and Sunday, with showers possibly lingering into Monday.
Photos: The Weather Channel, National Weather Service From the Clark-Garwood NJ Patch
Hazardous Weather Outlook
A severe thunderstorm watch was issued for N.J., as heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected Thursday and Friday and over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
The New Jersey counties impacted by the watch, which is in effect until 12 midnight, are: Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Salem and Somerset.
A flash flood warning was also issued for all New Jersey south of Morristown, and as much as 2 inches of rain could fall beginning Thursday, mostly in South Jersey.
AccuWeather reports the storm system swinging up from the Deep South will bring downpours to the northeastern U.S. and break the back of an extended heat wave.
Downpours will extend northeastward from the lower Mississippi Valley on Thursday into Thursday night. Locally gusty thunderstorms will erupt along with the drenching downpours from parts of Virginia to southern New Jersey during this time, according to an AccuWeather release.
"The exact track of the storm system will be a challenge to predict," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.
Here is what is expected on Thursday:
Here is what is expected on Friday:
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Thursday afternoon (North, Central Jersey): Partly sunny, with a high near 91. Light south wind.
Thursday afternoon (South Jersey): Scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 4pm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. Partly sunny, with a high near 92. Light southwest wind. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
Thursday night: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly after 1 a.m. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 75. Light south wind. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.
Friday: Showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 3 p.m. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. High near 82. Southeast wind around 10 mph becoming north in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible.
Friday night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms before 8pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 67. North wind 5 to 7 mph becoming calm after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
Saturday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 85. Calm wind becoming southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
Saturday night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 69. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
Sunday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Cloudy, with a high near 84. Chance of precipitation is 50 percent.
'Drenching' Thunderstorms Will End N.J. Drought, Torrid Heat
WEATHER ALERT: 'Drenching' Thunderstorms Will End N.J. Drought, Torrid Heat
New Jersey has essentially gone 18 days without rain, and a heat wave has forced a number of school districts to close early.
It all should end tonight.
A torrid upper-90-degree heat wave that’s capped an 18-day drought should come to end Wednesday night and Thursday as drenching thunderstorms are expected to arrive in the region.
The National Weather Service has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for all of New Jersey, saying showers and thunderstorms producing heavy rain may lead to flooding in poor drainage and low-lying areas through Thursday.
”We are looking at a front this evening and we’re looking at some pretty good rain, just a lot of rain,” said Jim Bunker, a National Weather Service Meteorologist.
Despite having a “small trace” of rain on Aug. 31, New Jersey hasn’t had anything since Aug. 21, when .52 inches fell in the state.
A number of towns have imposed water restrictions, and a numbers of school districts closed early on Tuesday as they battle the effects of heat and drought.