Gospel singers broke out in song at a Texas convention center on Tuesday night as the performers tried to lift spirits after thousands were evacuated from their homes during Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey. Victoria White, along with Marquist Taylor and several others, sang to evacuees at the Lone Star Expo Center in Conroe, Texas, north of Houston. Massive flooding from Harvey forced thousands of rescues that overwhelmed emergency responders as convention centers, churches and even mattress stores opened their doors to people needing shelter during the storm.
White was filmed singing at the Lone Star Expo Center amid rows of beds and cots at the shelter by volunteer Joni Villemez-Comeaux. ‘This woman’s powerful voice, singing praise, lifted the Spirit of all within earshot,’ she wrote on Facebook of White’s performance. She added: ‘Hard to believe but close to a million people have already viewed this beautiful Soul spreading her gift. You’re such a blessing.’
After five days of torrential rain, the latest weather forecast predicts less than an inch of rain and perhaps even sunshine for the Houston area. However, the dangers remain far from over.
Authorities and family members have reported at least 18 deaths from Harvey, while law enforcement agencies say more than 13,000 people have been rescued in the Houston area and surrounding parts of Southeast Texas.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner also implemented a curfew of midnight to 5 a.m. in an apparent response to scattered reports of looting. Police Chief Art Acevedo said violators would be searched and arrested.
Two additional shelters – the Toyota Center and NRG Park – opened to house displaced residents.
Authorities expected the human toll to continue to mount, both in deaths and in tens of thousands of people made homeless by the catastrophic storm that is now the heaviest tropical downpour in US history. In all, more than 17,000 people have sought refuge in Texas shelters, and that number seemed certain to increase, the American Red Cross said. The city’s largest shelter housed 10,000 of the displaced as two additional mega-shelters opened Tuesday for the overflow. Louisiana’s governor offered to take in Harvey victims from Texas, and televangelist Joel Osteen opened his Houston megachurch, a 16,000-seat former arena, after critics blasted him on social media for not acting to help families displaced by the storm.
Meanwhile, a much-weakened Tropical Storm Harvey was steering into new territory.