Governor activates entire Texas National Guard to help with Harvey response

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HOUSTON — Gov. Greg Abbott activated the entire Texas National Guard in response to Harvey, bringing the total number of deployed guardsmen to roughly 12,000, he said Monday.

Previously, he had mobilized about 4,000 troops.

Swollen rivers in east Texas aren’t expected to crest until later this week, but federal officials are already predicting tropical storm Harvey will drive 30,000 people into shelters and spur 450,000 victims to seek some sort of disaster assistance.

And yet, forecasters say, more rain is coming. Lots more.

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Several locations have already received 2 feet or more of rain, and forecasters say a reprieve won’t arrive till week’s end at the earliest.

By then, rain totals could reach another 2 feet — with isolated instances of 40 to 50 more inches — along the upper Texas coast.

“This is a landmark event for Texas,” FEMA administrator Brock Long said. “Texas has never seen an event like this.”

But, Long warned, Harvey presents a dynamic situation, and “every number we put out right now is going to change in 30 minutes.”

Harvey will likely surpass 2008’s Hurricane Ike and 2001’s tropical storm Allison, two of the most destructive storms to hit the Gulf Coast in recent memory, he said.

Around 13 million people from Corpus Christi to New Orleans were under flood watches and warnings as of Monday morning as Harvey’s storm bands repeatedly pummel the same areas.

For state and federal officials working to mitigate Harvey’s devastation, one of the more frustrating aspects of the storm is uncertainty.

“The word catastrophic does not appropriately describe what we’re facing,” said U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. “We just don’t know when it’s going to end.”

Early Monday, Harvey was just barely clinging to tropical storm status, but the danger is far from over.

The storm is forecast to head southeast toward the Matagorda Bay and the Gulf of Mexico where it will pick up additional moisture before sliding back over Galveston and Houston, cities it’s already hammered.

Even when the rain is gone, dangers will persist, said National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini, because “the flooding will be very slow to recede.”