What chemicals burn in Beaumont, Texas

After Storm Harvey: Explosions in a flooded chemical plant in Texas

The French petrochemical company Arkema announced that black smoke was rising over the flooded factory. The emerging smoke was "incredibly dangerous," said the head of the Fema disaster control agency, Brock Long. The authorities asked all residents within a three-kilometer radius to get to safety. Arkema had previously announced that they wanted to let the fire in the plant "burn out by itself". Because dangerous substances are stored in many parts of the plant, there is a risk of further explosions.

The storm "Harvey" had led to the flooding in the plant in Crosby near the Texas city of Houston. "The chemicals used in the factory have heated up after the power supply to cool the system failed," said Arkema on Wednesday evening (local time). After the heavy rain, the factory is almost two meters under water.

According to the local authorities, residents within a two-kilometer radius have already been brought to safety. Arkema produces organic peroxides in the town of Crosby, 40 kilometers northeast of Houston, which must be stored at low temperatures. The fabrics are used in the manufacture of plastics, pharmaceutical products and paints.

Huge damage

Texas may need well over $ 125 billion from the US government to rebuild after tropical storm "Harvey". The sum made available to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 will probably not be enough, said Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Because the flooded area is larger than it was twelve years ago.

According to weather experts, the tropical depression will move northeast this Thursday, crossing Louisiana and moving into the Mississippi Valley. The National Hurricane Center extended its warnings from the Texas and Louisiana coast to Kentucky.

"Harvey" brought torrential rains over Texas for days. It was the strongest hurricane in Texas in more than 50 years. The National Hurricane Center downgraded Harvey, which hit land on Friday as a magnitude four hurricane in southern Texas, to a tropical low on Wednesday. It did warn, however, that "catastrophic and life-threatening floods" would continue for the remainder of the week in and around Houston, Beaumont / Port Arthur and further east in Louisiana.

"As for the rain, the worst for southeast Texas is not over yet," said Governor Abbott. He called for the federal government to provide more aid to the rebuilding of Texas' Gulf region than in previous hurricanes. President Donald Trump, who on Wednesday promised significant tax cuts for companies, also promised help for the victims in Texas and Louisiana.

The number of victims continues to rise

The consequences of "Harvey" are already drastic. At least 35 people were killed and 17 more were still missing in the Harris district, where Houston is located. Around 32,000 people had to leave their homes, and many lost their belongings. The Port Arthur oil refinery, the largest in the United States, had to close and gasoline prices rose. Houston is the fourth largest city in the USA and an important energy location. The metropolitan area is far more important than New Orleans, with around 6.5 million people and an economy about the size of Argentina.

In Houston, given the partially receding water, some people made their way to their abandoned homes. Several major roads were reopened to traffic, and the two largest airports in the economic metropolis resumed operations.

Aid workers rescue trapped flood victims from their car in West Houston

Many stars donate

Meanwhile, more and more American stars are collecting for the victims of the storm and making millions of dollars available. According to a report by TMZ magazine, the actor Leonardo DiCaprio made one million US dollars available from the funds of his foundation. The Oscar winner also shared an appeal for donations by the United Way organization on Twitter. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres drummed on her show for the "Harvey" aid project of football player JJ Watts, who plays in the US football league NFL for the Texans in the badly affected metropolis of Houston. During a live broadcast with the athlete, she presented a check for one million US dollars on behalf of the US supermarket chain Walmart. The project, with which the NFL pro originally wanted to raise $ 200,000, has so far raised more than $ 8.5 million for the victims of the storm. Pop star and actress Miley Cyrus announced on the same broadcast that they would be giving $ 500,000 to disaster relief in Houston.

Many artists had already expressed their willingness to help in the past few days, including the actors Sandra Bullock, Kevin Hart and Amy Schumer as well as singer Beyoncé. Bullock, who owns a home in Texas, wanted to donate a million dollars. The Texas-born Oscar winner Jamie Foxx announced in a video message on Instagram that a large TV fundraising gala was planned for September 12th.

kle / stu (afp, rtr, dpa)