Bird’s-eye view of Houston shows Har­vey’s devastation

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OBITUARIES/NEWS -

Fly­ing over the Houston area most days is a post­card of Amer­ica: criss­cross­ing high­ways, sky­scrapers, hulk­ing shop­ping plazas, oil re­finer­ies, big houses, cat­tle pas­tures. Then there’s the view af­ter Har­vey.

“I had an idea, but once you can get up there and ac­tu­ally phys­i­cally see it, the wa­ter is never-end­ing,” said David Phillip, an As­so­ci­ated Press pho­tog­ra­pher who has called Houston home for two decades.

Phillip got a bird’s-eye view this week af­ter Har­vey dumped more than 50 inches (127 cen­time­tres) of rain in and around the na­tion’s fourth-largest city.

His pho­to­graphs show rows of sub­ur­ban streets turned into canals and brown­ish flood­wa­ters creep­ing up to rooftops. In one photo, a mansion’s long cul-de-sac drive­way re­sem­bles a draw­bridge over a moat.

Phillip was taken aback by wa­ter sub­merg­ing the In­ter­state 69 bridge over the San Jac­into River.

“It makes you pause and think about it. This is my home. It has been for 20 years. It’s tough to see your friends and neigh­bours and peo­ple in the com­mu­nity go through that,” he said.

Phillip hasn’t stopped of­ten since Har­vey made land­fall Fri­day night. He started in Galve­ston and by Sun­day was driv­ing the wrong way down Houston’s flooded In­ter­state 610, nor­mally one of the busi­est sec­tions of high­ways in the U.S. Later he was on board a res­cue boat when it struck some­thing, flip­ping him back­ward and out of the boat.

The pro­pel­ler got his leg be­fore Phillip was pulled from the wa­ter, leav­ing a bruise. He lost his glasses and ru­ined a cam­era lens.

Phillip, who is 51, is no stranger to pho­tograph­ing ma­jor storms, in­clud­ing Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in 2005.

As the wa­ter from Har­vey re­cedes he sees fa­mil­iar devastation.

“Ev­ery­thing, gen­er­ally, 4 feet down is taken out of ev­ery house.” Streets in Houston are now be­com­ing lined with couches, hard­wood floor­ing, base­boards and pi­anos.

He called cov­er­ing Har­vey more per­sonal than pre­vi­ous storm as­sign­ments. Phillip said Wed­nes­day was his first day he could travel the roads freely again, and in the neigh­bour­hood of Mey­er­land, he found home­own­ers tear­ing out dry­wall and try­ing to sal­vage be­long­ings.

“Peo­ple have had to break win­dows of neigh­bour’s home to get to their sec­ond floor while swim­ming through flood­wa­ters. Crawled through win­dows. Swam to be picked up,” Phillip said.

“Ev­ery­body has a sur­vival story.”

AP PHOTO

In this photo, In­ter­state 69 is cov­ered by flood­wa­ters from Har­vey, in Hum­ble, Texas.

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