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Louisiana Turns Attention Toward Helping Texas As Harvey Weakens

National Hurricane Center
Tropical Storm Harvey is expected to track diagnally across the state through the morning of Thursday, Aug. 31

Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall in Southwest Louisiana early Thursday morning and is expected to move diagonally across the state over the next 24 hours as it weakens. Even though the storm is strong enough to damage trees and power lines, Gov. John Bel Edwards says the threat of flooding has decreased.

"We nevertheless have faired much better than we had feared might be the case," he says. "But, our neighbors are still taking it on the chin."

Search and rescue efforts are still in full swing near Houston and the Texas coast. The Coast Guard says it's rescued more than 4,500 people and 100 pets from flooded homes and rooftops since Hurricane Harvey made landfall. 

The Coast Guard is still rescuing people, says Rear Admiral Paul Thomas, Coast Guard commander for the Gulf.

"This has been a hurricane a day for six or seven days," he said.

At a command center in New Orleans, Thomas oversees a team that's getting helicopters and ships in place for rescue missions along the Texas coast. But along with those search and rescue missions, Thomas says the Coast Guard is also sending crews out to ports that have been closed since Harvey hit.

"The ports on the Gulf Coast are critical to our nation, particularly to our energy supply. We’ve already seen reports of gas prices going up," he said.

The Coast Guard has reopened or partially reopened some of the eight ports hit by Harvey. Coast Guard teams still have to check the remaining ports and clear them of sunken boats and debris before they’re safe for travel.

Gov. Edwards says the state is now looking for more ways to help recovery efforts in Texas. He says the state has offered to set up a shelter in North Louisiana for as many as 3,400 Texans. As many as 40 people from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have already been in Houston assisting with rescues. State and local leaders are asking the people of Louisiana to help those affected in whatever way they can.

But Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser warns not to load up your cars and boats and head to Texas.

"We're getting a lot of people that want to help," he says.

Nungesser urges those who want to help by boat to connect with coordinated groups like the Cajun Navy.

"Don't just grab your boat and get on the highway," he says. "A lot of those people are being turned back and you can’t get through.”

Instead, Nungesser says people should go to volunteerlouisiana.gov for information on volunteering. Additionally, donations can be made through the NOLA Pay It Forward Fund at nolapayitforward.org.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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