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Where Things Stand In Texas

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey are underway on the southeast Texas coast, where the weather is hot and dry and rescue helicopters are buzzing overhead.

(SOUNDBITE OF HELICOPTERS BUZZING)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Brian Mann is in Beaumont this morning. Good morning, Brian.

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You were in Port Arthur much of yesterday, I understand. It's one of the towns still hardest hit by Harvey. What did you see?

MANN: Well, it is really hard still - sort of half-ghost town, half-floodzone. I walked down completely empty streets, drove through neighborhoods where people are just gone - flood damage everywhere. I visited a couple of very full shelters. People saying they're waiting for a clear idea of where to go next. And I talked with Al Gillen. He's with Port Arthur police.

AL GILLEN: I'm going to venture a guess - 99 percent of the city is damaged one way or another. As far as the city infrastructure, city vehicles - that whole barn is under water. I went out there by boat - and a whole fleet underwater.

MANN: He's talking there about all the vehicles a city needs to operate - everything from street cleaners to cop cars. They're just flooded.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How are people holding up, given the scale of this recovery?

MANN: Well, there's frustration. You know, things are moving slow because water levels are still high, especially along the Natchez River. I walked through a flooded graveyard yesterday, where the river's flowing through a historic burial ground. But, you know, people are incredibly tough. I hear folks talking about their faith, about their communities and their neighbors. They're frustrated and want to get home. But, you know, there are a ton of volunteers. That's a cool thing here. They're showing up to help. Listen to this one encounter that I had.

KALA MILTON: Kala Milton.

JUDY BAYHEM: Judy Bayhem.

MILTON: We live - we're from Denham Springs, La., and...

BAYHEM: Walker, La.

MANN: Tell me what what you're doing. What's your contribution?

MILTON: We brought in about two pallets full of water, diapers, dog food, wipes, supplies in general.

BAYHEM: Supplies.

MILTON: And now we're helping serve the city workers officials, making sure they get fed.

MANN: Why did you think it was important to come do this?

BAYHEM: Because we experienced this last year in our hometown, and we wanted to help out.

MILTON: My house flooded last year. I had about five foot of water in my house. And we know how it feels.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is really one of the most heartening things that you see in this disaster. Brian, I know Texas Governor Greg Abbott is saying that big parts of south Texas are back open for business again, trying to get a sense of normalcy. What are you seeing there?

MANN: You know, a big part of the economic hit from a disaster like this is that things just shut down. And I'm still driving through whole business districts that are just dark. A lot of them don't have water. That means no jobs, people without paychecks. So there's a scramble to get things going again by the end of this holiday weekend. And, actually, I ran into a guy named Ryan Guess in a little town called Nederland, Texas. He's just a local computer repair man. But he's scrambling to salvage all those computers flooded by Harvey so companies can reopen.

RYAN GUESS: Businesses like car repair shops - Completely flooded. And they're ready to get back up and running so they can start helping all those other flooded cars.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. It seems like a lot of pieces have come together all at once as people get their lives started again. Brian Mann is in Beaumont, Texas. Thank you so much, Brian.

MANN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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