Now downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical depression, Harvey has moved inland from the Gulf Coast and is dumping heavy rain throughout the lower Mississippi River Valley, the National Weather Service says.
East Arkansas is expected to receive 3-5 inches of rain from the system, with higher local totals possible. Twitter users have posted images of flooding in Woodruff County, and flash flood warnings have been issued in multiple counties in the eastern half of the state. The bulk of the storm is churning farther east, however, with Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky to receive the brunt of what remains of Harvey.
To put that 3-5 inch estimate in perspective: Parts of Houston have received well over 40 inches of rain in the last few days. Rainfall totals in the Texas town of Cedar Bayou were 51.88 inches, a record for the continental U.S. The National Weather Service’s initial characterization of Hurricane Harvey as an “unprecedented” event are being borne out.
At this point, we can only guess at the human and economic cost of this storm. The official death toll in Texas is at 38, according to the New York Times, but it’s almost certain to rise in the coming days. In Houston, emergency response crews are beginning the laborious task of going door-to-door as waters recede, and tens of thousands of residents of coastal cities remain in emergency shelters. And on Thursday, a failure at a chemical plant east of Houston resulted in a series of explosions after cooling systems shut down due to the floodwaters.