Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"Pardoning Climate Change" *updates*

As with the rest of Trump's executive actions, it won't actually solve any problem.  But as long as it gets 'far higher' teevee ratings ... mission accomplished.

Update: Predictable; just another political rally.  No cause for concern on his part.

A few Harvey headlines:

-- Many Harvey-damaged homes and businesses do not have flood insurance

-- Gas prices could rise $1 or more in the wake of Harvey

A large part of the nation's refining capacity has been powered down, and may be severely damaged, requiring more idle time.  Short supplies in the coming month will undoubtedly drive up prices.

-- Looters shoot at Houston police, fire fighters responding

HPD had to divert officers from rescues to the scene.  If I ever again see or hear Mayor Turner or a member of his staff denigrate the city's first responders, their requests for a pay raise, or continue fighting them to cut their pensions, I am seriously going to lose my shit.

-- Turner has made some good calls, like correcting Greg Abbott's unwise suggestion that Houston might ought to evacuate, and shown compassion and a fighting spirit for the undocumented, who fear seeking help from the storm because of Trump's odious efforts to deport them.  SB4 (the anti-sanctuary law) is scheduled to go into effect September 1, and until the courts deal with it, there's going to be extra tension between Abbott, AG Ken Paxton, and the mayors of the state's largest cities, mostly under Democratic authority and parties to the lawsuit against compliance.

Update (8/30, evening): A preliminary injunction issued late Wednesday by US Judge Orlando Garcia will prevent parts of the law from going into effect while the lawsuit moves forward.  Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton will appeal.

But there remains no corresponding sympathy for the homeless in this crisis that I can see.  At least they had first dibs on a cot at one of the shelters.  Hope they took it, unlike this gentleman.

Update: Shelters are jammed, even as the NRG convention center opens for evacuees late Tuesday evening.  Logistics are troublesome, and Judge Emmett throws the Red Cross under the bus.

Emmett said the (10,000-bed NRG Park) shelter was needed both because the George R. Brown Convention Center is overflowing with people displaced by historic flooding, and also because of logistical problems and delays he had observed working with the Red Cross at shelters around town.

"I don't want to throw anybody under the bus but the Red Cross, they couldn't get anything done," Emmett said.

-- Homeowners have only a few days left to file a claim with their insurers in order to be grandfathered in under existing law.  The new laws are, to put it mildly, favorable to the corporations and unfavorable to the people.

The relatively obscure law, House Bill 1774, was passed in May and is designed to discourage so-called “abusive” lawsuits that occur when policyholders sue insurance companies over certain weather-related claims. Proponents say the law will target scams and frivolous lawsuits that have caused insurance premiums to skyrocket in the state. But critics argue that the law guts important homeowners’ protections, while relieving insurance companies from having to pay for penalties such as late fees incurred with overdue insurance claims.

“It’s a David v. Goliath battle from the start,” Dallas lawyer Brian Lauten told the Dallas Morning News. “They have basically taken away David’s slingshot.”

The law has become especially relevant this week, when Texans attempt to assess the colossal damage in Harvey’s wake, and forecasters predict the state will be battered by a second wave of flooding mid-week. Displaced Texans may be unable to return home before the law’s September 1 implementation.

Maybe a few more Republicans with their houses under water will be disinclined to vote GOP next spring.  Or maybe they'll just keep whining to Dan Patrick about their property taxes.

-- Environmental catastrophes are springing up right and left along the Houston Ship Channel (separate post coming).  Yesterday's 'shelter-in-place' of La Porte and Shoreacres, alongside the Ship Channel, was triggered by a pipeline rupture.  Allegedly all is well now, though the authorities responsible for these things long ago earned a 'no confidence' vote from me.

Update:  A chemical plant in Crosby, northeast of Houston, faces the threat of explosions after floodwaters and power outages.

Late Monday night, the facility lost power from both its primary supply and its backup generators due to flooding. Employees moved highly volatile organic peroxides into back-up containers to keep them cool. If this class of chemical gets too hot, it can cause fires or explosions.

Update (8/31, very early a.m.): Explosions are being reported at the facility.  One Harris County sheriff's deputy has been taken to the hospital after breathing fumes; nine others drove themselves there for observation.  This excerpt is worth noting:

(Arkema CEO Rich) Rowe refused to release the company's federally mandated risk management plan or its chemical inventory to reporters.

-- Even as Harvey finally moves out, floodwaters in creeks, bayous, and rivers will keep rising, and many of Houston's already-flooded streets will stay that way for another few days, perhaps a week or two.  The next calamity involves one of broken distribution channels: the big trucks cannot get from the warehouse to the grocery stores to restock them, and there will be crowds of people fighting over meager quantities of groceries.  Not sure how that is going to be mitigated today.

Plan on dining out more than usual; you know, if you can afford it.

-- Finally, this piece in MJ about Ben Taub Hospital's crisis contains links to KTRK's website and Twitter feed that have been removed by them.  It's a good thing the author interviewed the spokesperson for the Harris Hospital System; else this might have fallen down the memory hole.  I haven't made time to research what exactly is happening over there.

Anybody got something I haven't found?


An earlier concern that the facility would run out of food by Tuesday night was eased when a partial delivery was made and the kitchen became functional again. In addition, staffing concerns were also partly alleviated as health care workers were beginning to relieve those who had been on duty since Friday.

Update: Watch out for phishing scams.  And floating fire ant balls, pads, and ribbons. And in the days ahead ... mosquitos, polluted water, mold, and disease.  And get a tetanus shot if you've spent any length of time wading in flood waters.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

Insurance industry spinning hard on the Kelly Hancock bill. In my work email:

Insurers Respond to False Social Media Posts on Harvey Insurance Claims

AUSTIN, Texas-Joe Woods, vice president, state government relations for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), today issued the following statement regarding false social media post regarding Hurricane Harvey insurance claims.

“Safety is the first priority as Hurricane Harvey continues to impact the state with its wind and heavy rains.

“Also of importance, residents can rest assured that there are thousands of insurance claims adjusters in the Austin and San Antonio areas that are ready to enter the affected areas as soon as they can do so safely and are given permission by local authorities.

“If you sustain damage to your home or automobile, contact your insurer as soon as possible to start the claims process, and work with your adjuster to identify all damages and coverages. Residents should beware of scammers who prey on storm victims. These unscrupulous third-party contractors come in all varieties—and can lure in unsuspecting families with deals and offers that seem too good to be true.

“Contrary to recent misleading social media posts, the insurance claims process will not change under reform legislation (HB 1774) that was passed by the Texas Legislature this year and goes into effect on September 1. Instead, the new law adds new checks and balances to the system to dissuade unnecessary, manufactured lawsuits.