Hurricane Harvey winners and losers: Storm brings out the best, worst, and most clueless instincts
Every major event, whether it's a presidential election or a natural disaster, has winners and losers. And Tropical Storm Harvey is no different.
The catastrophe brought out the best and worst in individuals and organizations, although some of the losing actions at times seemed more clueless than premeditated, while others were victims of timing and circumstance.
With that in mind, here is our list of some who enhanced their standing with the community and some who have a bit of work to do.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett
With a calm demeanor and reassuring presence, the politico duo, who respectively hold the area's highest offices, took charge of the disaster from the beginning and continue to show strong leadership. There's likely to be some second guessing of their actions after things calm down, but they proved that officials can work across party lines to get things done in a time of crisis.
Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale
While others dithered, McIngvale transformed his two furniture stores into temporary shelters. As Houston started to flood, he posted a Facebook video and told evacuees to "come on over." He gave out his personal cell phone number. He dispatched his large delivery trucks and drivers to collect people and bring them to safety. He served them food and invited them to bring their pets. For that, 400 evacuees — and an entire city — is grateful.
The popular Houston Texans star used his incredible charisma to launch a relief fund that attracted more money and attention than his wildest dreams. Even Ellen DeGeneres, who presented Watt with a check for $1 million from Walmart, said she won't be able to root against him when the Texans play her favorite team, the New Orleans Saints. Over the weekend he plans to load up a truck and take such essentials as water and portable generators to those in need.
The Cajun Navy
This band of skilled private boat owners and pilots from Louisiana didn't wait for the government to tell them what to do. They headed to Houston and are credited with rescuing hundreds from the rising floodwaters of Harvey. They were joined by a number of outdoorsmen and women from Texas and around the nation who also pitched in to patrol flooded Houston-area streets, pulling stranded families off of roofs and bringing them to shelter.
Houston TV reporters are sometimes accused of grandstanding during hurricanes. But this time they rose to the occasion, with comprehensive, clear, and succinct coverage that explained what was happening every step of the way. From dramatic rescues to understandable explanations of weather patterns showing Harvey's unpredictability, they provided an invaluable service for TV viewers and for those who were able to live stream the coverage on the internet.
The Harris County Flood Control District meteorologist has become a reluctant media star during Harvey, appearing nearly nonstop on TV and social media with frank and concise live updates about the status of water levels during the flood emergency. He has won a legion of fans, some of whom have launched a GoFundMe page to raise funds to send him on vacation after all this is over. He seems embarrassed by the attention, although he did crack a slight smile on ABC 13 during an interview with anchor Melanie Lawson.
After a series of ugly occurrences this year that have pitted U.S. residents against each other, Houston showed how a diverse city works together in a time of crisis. This is what America really looks like.
Although the wealthy televangelist protested that critics were misinformed about his relief efforts, it rang hollow as he only opened Lakewood Church to evacuees after a near universal chorus of condemnation on social media and elsewhere.
KHOU Channel 11
The station made a mighty effort to track the storm coverage and the aftermath, but it was knocked off the air for a prolonged period when its Allen Parkway studio flooded. KHOU relied on its sister station in Dallas for a while before returning to makeshift quarters at Houston Public Media, where the bare-bone background surroundings had the look of a college TV station. Not surprisingly, it was the first of the major stations to return to regular programming on Thursday.
CNN reporter Rosa Flores was among a number of reporters chided for live segments in which evacuees weren't in the mood to be exploited in a vulnerable moment. “People are really breaking down and y’all sitting here with cameras and microphones trying to ask us what the fuck is wrong with us,” a clearly distressed evacuee told Flores. “And you really trying to understand with the microphone still in my face! With me shivering cold, with my kids wet! And you’re still putting a microphone in my face!”
A Best Buy store in Cypress got caught charging nearly $43 for a case of bottled water and said it was a "big mistake,'' after a strong social media backlash. Other instances, according to the Texas Attorney General's office, include a convenience store in Houston that reportedly charged $20 for a gallon of gas, $8.50 for a bottle of water, and $99 for a case of water.
The Astros, who were scheduled to play the Rangers in Houston, suggested switching the series to Arlington and playing the next series between the teams later this season in Houston. But the Rangers refused, and the games were moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where they drew miniscule crowds and made the North Texas team look like a bad sport.
With the third major flood in three years, Houston must take a serious look at land management issues. But, despite Harvey's havoc, it's not clear that will ever happen, lending credence to the adage that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.