Category: Syndicated

Hurricane Harvey Impacting Iowa Gas Prices, Agriculture

ANKENY, Iowa -- Hurricane Harvey has caused unprecedented destruction in the city of Houston and surrounding areas.  That has led industries like the Iowa soybean industry to see effects, albeit not nearly as severe.

“Hurricane Harvey hasn't adversely affected the ports of New Orleans, the ports of South Louisiana, but what we've been very attentive to is as the storm has made landfall and is proceeding through the interior parts of the country it is dumping rain on a lot of these areas where a lot of soybean barges are unloaded and then loaded into ocean vessels so its delayed that” said Executive Director of the Iowa Soy Transportation Coalition Mike Steenhoek.

Currently delays aren't a major issue, but it's something the industry is keeping an eye on.

“We're just hopeful that we'll be back up and running at full speed in the foreseeable future and that's very important to be in that position prior to harvest which really starts gaining steam in the united states in September, October, November” said Steenhoek.

Meanwhile a more immediate issue for Iowans is gas prices.

“The average today is $2.40, the average a week ago was $2.30 so as a result we've seen a dime increase this past week due to Harvey. We may see another dime or so over the span of the next week” said Gail Weinholzer of AAA.

Unlike Hurricane Katrina the energy industry's infrastructure was left undamaged.

“At this point it does not appear as though any of those facilities have been structurally damaged. A lot of those closures are due to safety precautions and those types of things” said Weinholzer.

AAA expects prices to come back down by the end of September at the latest.

Hurricane Hits Texas Agriculture

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas agriculture hard last week, cotton harvest was underway with bales called modules sitting in the field. The South Texas Cotton and Grain Association are estimating damages as high as $150 million.

That cost could go higher as the flood waters recede, one concern is fuel contamination or damage.

Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller says most of the corn was harvested before the storm, but farmers are going to take heavy losses.

He says, "Most of the corn was in the bins. Most of the rice, about 75 percent of the rice was harvested, but it's in the bins. We do have some bins that were damaged. We do have some cotton gins that were destroyed and some were damaged, so it's going to be a long time before we finish up. Think about it, it was a bumper crop, good crop, they had some money made in the crop, but until it gets ginned you don't get payed for it."

Miller says anyone who wants to help out farmers can go to the Texas Ag Department website. They have also set up a hay hotline to help get livestock producers hay, that number is 512-463-9360.

The USDA also announced they are ready to help.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue tweeted, "Scenes from Harvey's fury. Texas hit hard, including ag community. These are strong folk, but USDA ready to help."

He posted a link to more information on the USDA website:

Iowa Animal Rescuers Ready to Begin Search for Pets in Hurricane

Texas Gulf Coast  --   A team of workers from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa are on the ground in Texas waiting to hit the water and search for stranded animals.

The Iowa team left for the Gulf Coast early Wednesday morning and arrived early Thursday after driving nonstop.  Josh Colvin joined Channel 13 News live at 5:00 o'clock on Thursday to talk about what he's seen so far and what he expects to find when they hit the water.

Man Returns to Texas Home, Plays Beautiful Music on Flooded Piano

FRIENDSWOOD, Texas — A Texas man returning to his waterlogged home to get his children’s favorite stuffed animals sat down to play a beautiful song on his flooded piano.

Aric Harding posted a video of himself playing the piano on Instagram, on Wednesday.

The post read, in part, “I went back to our street today because as you guys have probably seen the water has come back with a vengeance. I hope this was its high point. I grabbed the kids’ favorite stuffed animals that we had left behind and a couple of games to keep the kids occupied.”

Instagram Photo

While there, he sat down and recorded a video of himself playing the uplifting song.

At least 37 deaths related to Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath have been reported in Texas.

Iowa Colleges Rallying to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims

DUBUQUE, Iowa — Basketball teams at several of Iowa colleges are answering the call to help victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Drake University, UNI, Central College, William Penn, and the University of Dubuque are among the schools participating – sending shirts, shoes, and gear.

Players and coaches at the University of Dubuque packed up some of their gear to ship to the University of Houston. Houston’s head coach sent out a tweet this week asking for donations.

It’s a gesture many basketball programs across the country are doing.

“We’re all obviously competitive and competing against each other during the season and all that, but it’s definitely a time when everyone is trying to come together to help those in need,” said University of Dubuque Men’s Basketball Coach Robbie Sieverding.

The University of Houston says the response has been overwhelming, with more than 700 commitments over social media.

RFS Proposal Comment Period Ends

The Renewable Fuel Standard proposal comment period ends today.

Iowa Renewable Fuel Executive Director Monte Shaw says he is happy about the corn ethanol requirements, but not pleased about the unmoved biodiesel and cut cellulosic levels. Numbers for ethanol are maintained at a 15 billion gallon cap for 2018. But the biodiesel number stayed the same at 2.1 billion gallons for 2019, below the industry request of 2.75 billion gallons.

Shaw says some of the reasons for lower numbers relied on an argument over what "supply" means in the law, which a circuit court has now ruled on.

When the proposal was released EPA Administrator Scot Pruitt said in a statement, “We are proposing new volumes consistent with market realities focused on actual production and consumer demand while being cognizant of the challenges that exist in bringing advanced biofuels into the marketplace."

Shaw thinks there's some bias in the rule and they want to remind the EPA on their role, "When going through the confirmation process, Administrator Pruitt promised to follow the letter of the RFS and the intent of congress when they passed the RFS. There's a whole bunch of quotes to that effect. And this rule falls short of that."

Shaw says, unchanged, this would be the first time RFS numbers have been drawn down by the EPA.

Photo Shows FEMA Truck Stuck in Harvey’s Floodwaters

HOUSTON — A FEMA truck headed to help victims of Hurricane Harvey ended up getting stuck in the floodwaters.

KDVR reporter Vicente Arenas captured a photo of the semi hauling a FEMA trailer surrounded by water in south Houston Wednesday morning.

Arenas said people in the neighborhood thought the water would recede some by Wednesday, but it has not.

‘Whole city’ now underwater as Harvey makes another landfall

While countless Houstonians are still waiting for rescue, Tropical Storm Harvey has now swallowed another Texas city.

“Our whole city is underwater right now but we are coming!” Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman posted Wednesday morning on Facebook. “If you called, we are coming. Please get to higher ground if you can, but please try (to) stay out of attics.”

At least 24 deaths related to Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath have been reported in Texas. One of them, Houston police Sgt. Steve Perez, drowned while trying to get to work.

In Beaumont, rescuers Tuesday afternoon came upon a toddler in a pink backpack clinging to her mother’s body in floodwaters about a half mile from their car. The girl was in stable condition with hypothermia.

“Had we been a few moments later, they would have been swept underneath (a trestle) and our boats wouldn’t have been able to get them,” Haley Morrow, spokeswoman for the Beaumont Emergency Management Office, told CNN on Wednesday.

“A true testament of a mother who put her own life at risk and sacrificed her life to save her child. That was devastating.”

In Port Arthur — about 90 miles east of the devastated Houston area — the deluge was so severe that floodwaters overwhelmed the Bob Bowers Civic Center, which was serving as a shelter. It was evacuated Wednesday after taking on water overnight, according to volunteer Ana Platero.

Cots where people slept the night before floated on 2 feet of water Wednesday as people waited on tables or sat on elevated bleachers to be evacuated to a nearby middle school.

Police made an appeal for volunteers to bring boats and help.

“Rescue boats welcome in Port Arthur to assist emergency personnel,” the police department posted on Facebook. The city is asking anyone trapped to hang a white towel, sheet or shirt outside to alert rescuers.

ARL Dispatches Water Rescue Team to Hurricane Harvey Area

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The Animal Rescue League of Iowa has a team of rescuers on the way to Texas to help some of the smallest and largest flood victims.

On Wednesday the ARL sent two employees who certified water rescuers and an ARL boat to the Houston area.  The rescuers will work to find pets stranded by the flood waters ranging from cats to horses.  The ARL is part of a national organization of rescue leagues that asked for the Iowa workers to be activated.

While working to find pets the workers will also try to avoid some other animals.  "There's all kinds of hazards you have to deal with," says ARL Executive Director Tom Colvin, "the further South you go the more you have to worry about unwanted animals that may be trying to get in the boats as well such as snakes and alligators."

How to Help Hurricane Harvey Victims from Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Many in Houston have lost everything: homes, clothes, cars, pets.   Most of us are a thousand miles away but we feel compelled to help.

“I want to help and the best way to help is being able to give these material things,” said Richard E. Pates, Bishop of Des Moines.  Pates and the local Catholic Charities have helped natural disaster victims in Iowa for over a decade.  He remembers the floods of 2008 and watched as many of the house hold items that were donated often went unused.  

He says if you’re interested in helping there is a more effective way than to do so than giving things: give money. He suggests finding a charity and donating cash to them. They know how to better utilize cash than used clothes or stuffed animals.  Money can also help these people rebuild after the rain stops.

“So much of what’s involved is long-range building. Some buildings have been destroyed and you need to have the wherewithal and cash to bring in those people,” said Bishop Pates.  

There is something else you can do right now in Des Moines to help and it won’t cost you a dime.  “There main local blood center in Houston has been opened for at least a few days,” said Danielle West with Life Serve Blood Centers.  Life Serve has already sent 50 units of blood to Houston.   

“One pint of blood, one donation, can save three lives. So one donation here can save three patients in need,” said West.   There are several mobile blood drive this week and weekend all over the metro.


Spider-Man Visits With Harvey Victims at Houston Shelter

HOUSTON — As flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey drives thousands of people from their homes across southeast Texas, more and more people are filling shelters across the Houston area.

Stef Manisero, a reporter at Spectrum News Austin, shared video of Spider-Man visiting with Harvey victims at the George R. Brown Emergency Center in Houston on Tuesday. She wrote:

“Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man making kids smile at the GRB.”

Harvey by the numbers

The toll that Harvey is taking on Texas is staggering.

Already, it has dumped 11 trillion gallons of rain over the state, says Ryan Maue with WeatherBell, a weather analytics company. And by the time Harvey dissipates, the state will have seen 25 trillion gallons of rain, he predicts.

The rainfall has set a record for the most ever from a landfalling tropical cyclone in the continental US. Estimates put eventual total losses at as much as $75 billion. And the death toll continues to climb everyday.

“The word catastrophic does not appropriately describe what we’re facing,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents much of Houston. “We just don’t know when it’s going to end.”