This article originally appeared in Nexus Media News and is republished with permission.
Growing up in the marshy plains of the Texas Gulf Coast, Ellen Buchanan had seen her share of floods. But in 2017, when Hurricane Harvey dumped 40 inches of rain on her home in Silsbee, a suburb of Beaumont, even she was caught off guard.
“Harvey was a whole different thing,” Buchanan, 70, said. “It flooded places that had never flooded before. All the creeks and bayous that flow to the Neches River turned each community into its own little island.”
The Neches River, in turn, carried all of that water 15 miles south, to an already inundated Beaumont. There, it swamped the city’s main and secondary pump stations, cutting off water to 110,000 residents for more than a week. Without access to potable water, storm shelters full of shell-shocked evacuees were forced to seek safety elsewhere. Outside, they were greeted with the dank smell of sulfur dioxide, the result of hurricane damage to one of the region’s many petrochemical refineries... Read more