As California experiences a record-breaking heat wave this week, it's hard to envision the destructive effects of a category 4 hurricane. But to some USC students, Tropical Storm Harvey is a reality, affecting the homes of their friends and family.
On Friday night, the Gulf Coast of Texas was struck by Hurricane Harvey. Since its arrival, it's has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it continues to wreak devastation. The greater Houston area of Texas and parts of Louisiana are currently affected by heavy rains and catastrophic flash floods. The National Weather Service has reported parts of Houston have received close to 40 inches of rainfall over the past four days.
The storm has caused damage that could leave up to 30,000 people needing shelter, a Federal Management Agency official said. As the water levels rise, people are being stranded in their homes while others are displaced from ruined residences. Since Monday afternoon, officials have also confirmed that nine people are dead.
Juan Duenas, a sophomore studying theater, was shocked at how close to home the disaster hit. His loved ones, friends and neighbors from the Houston area are directly affected, and the images he sees on the news are surreal to him.
"My own neighborhood is on the brink of having water enter homes," Duenas said. "I already have friends who have had their houses filled with water and have had to evacuate. My family is currently outside of my home and staying at a friend's house. My house's current condition is unknown, but my parents already suspect that there could be water in our house."
Brooke Upchurch, a junior studying neuroscience and a Houston native, said she didn't expect the hurricane to move into the city.
"I was surprised when I started seeing all of the flooding and pictures of highways and stores I'd known underwater," Upchurch said. "My house is currently not experiencing flooding, but a lot of my family friends have lost their houses. A couple of them were rescued from their roofs by emergency vehicles and are now staying with my mom until the water recedes."
For Madeleine Hamilton, a junior studying business, a tropical storm isn't anything new.
"I have experienced several hurricanes before. [Hurricane] Ike sent a tree through my house — although we weren't there — and Rita was a total joke, which is one of the reasons I don't take storm warnings seriously that often," Hamilton said.
However, as tropical storm Harvey increases in intensity and lingers in the southeastern Texas region, Hamilton is worried for family, friends and individuals in the Houston area.
"I am from Houston, and my dad's whole side of the family lives there," Hamilton said. "My feelings on [Harvey] are primarily anxiety. People tend to overlook Houston, and I'm glad that this [storm] isn't going ignored."
The National Weather Service estimates around 50 inches of rainfall will hit certain areas of the region affected by Harvey, a historic high.