Speed Reads

hurricane harvey

Houston is now soaking in a terrifying chemical stew

While clear skies returned to Houston on Thursday for the first time since the city was pummeled by Tropical Storm Harvey, officials are warning that the dangers are not yet over for coastal Texans. Health experts are cautioning that the floods could bring with them diseases like cholera and typhoid, and chemical runoff in the water could contaminate homes for the foreseeable future, The New York Times reports.

"We're telling people to avoid the floodwater as much as possible," said Houston Health Department spokesman Porfirio Villarreal. "Don't let your children play in it. And if you do touch it, wash it off. Remember, this is going to go on for weeks."

So far the city's drinking and sewer systems appear to be safe. Anyone living off of well water, though, is advised not to use it. "This will sound awful, but we don't take responsibility for it," said Houston's director of Emergency Medical Services, Dr. David Persse.

In addition to possible toxic leaks from the two dozen Superfund sites near the city, more than two million pounds of dangerous or carcinogenic chemicals have been released into the air from hurricane-battered refineries in the region. Additionally, evacuations were underway Thursday as the Harris County Emergency Operations Center warned that tanks of volatile organic peroxides were heating up at the Arkema chemical plant, and "there is no way to prevent an explosion or fire."

Read more about the lingering dangers of Harvey at The New York Times.