Webb Report: The week in Hurricane Harvey news

12:00 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017 Local
ANDREW BURTON
Floating fire ants are just one of the dangers posed by floodwaters. Andrew Burton/The New York Times

It takes a lot of people to cover a hurricane. Since Aug. 24, when our newsroom really started buckling down to report on Harvey and the Texans affected by it, I’ve been in awe of how different journalists with different skills have pitched in. Every beat — food, technology, sports, you name it — has played a part in covering this deadly, devastating storm.

Some of our brave colleagues have waded through water and wreckage and sent dispatches from places like Rockport, Refugio and Houston. While our web producers worked to get that news online and out on social media, they also kept an eye on other Harvey stories from across the web, the smaller headlines we thought readers would also want to see.

Here are just a few of those from the past week.

• “Houston, we have a hurricane.”

That’s the message astronaut Jack D. Fischer sent to his Twitter followers early on Aug. 26 from aboard the International Space Station. Fischer, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy originally from Colorado, posted the words with an image of Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Texas the night before.

“Our thoughts & prayers are with folks feeling Harvey’s wrath, as dawn breaks after a long night of rain,” Fischer also wrote.

• One Dallas-based FOX News reporter experienced a lighter side of storm coverage Aug. 25 when a Galveston woman gave him a six-pack of beer during his stand-up.

An unidentified Galveston resident handed reporter Casey Stegall a six-pack of Galveston Island Brewing’s Tiki Wheat, exclaimed “Thought you’d like some Galveston beer!” and then ran off.

“Well thank you, that will be nice for after we are done covering this, but, there you, go, there’s just friendly people here,” Stegall relayed back to his studio anchor.

According to The Wrap, Galveston Island Brewing marketing director Charday Van Orstrand said that the mystery woman does not work for the brewery but called her gesture “Southern hospitality at its finest.”

“She’s sharing the local wealth.”

After the wheat-and-grain infused interruption, Stegall and the brewery discussed it on Twitter and Instagram.

“Now that’s what I call a GOOD photo bomb! She was very sweet and even gave me a hug … moment of levity, reporting on serious matters,” Stegall tweeted.

— Jake Harris, American-Statesman staff

• That’s a good boy.

As most Texans know, one key to safety during a hurricane is preparedness. Residents of towns in Harvey’s path cleared grocery store shelves the day before the hurricane’s landfall. But it was one very prepared pup that had it all figured out. Forget your 24-pack of bottled water. What does a dog grab when the storm hits?

A picture of a pooch carrying an entire bag of dog food while walking down a stormy street in Sinton went viral Aug. 26.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the German Shepherd mix, named Otis, belongs to a 5-year-old boy, but he was being watched by the boy’s grandfather, Salvador Segovia, when he got out.

“I kept yelling his name and yelling his name and he wouldn’t come,” Segovia told the Chronicle. He also told the paper that Otis, whom Segovia was able to track down later that day, is a “local celebrity.”

“He’s the only dog allowed to lay in front of the county courthouse. He goes to H-E-B. He’s not a stray dog. He’s a good dog.”

A good dog, indeed.

— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff

• In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, several people have tweeted out pictures of floating rafts of fire ants spotted in floodwaters. While the formations might shock some (and terrify most) the living structures are not an unusual phenomenon.

According to Vox, fire ants are “one of few insects capable of building big structures with their bodies by linking them together.” The rafts are formed by a lot of ants “basically holding hands” in order to stay nearby the queen and in order to “generate a waterproof weave,” the news site reports.

According to a American-Statesman story from 2015 about flooding in South Carolina: “In an effort to survive fire ants can link together to form these masses in under two minutes. They will then tip their ‘raft’ into the water before they are completely submerged, and can survive this way for up to 12 days. Once the living raft hits land the ants will separate and leave the water. The queen is kept safe in the middle of the raft, while fire ant workers protect larvae and eggs by keeping them in their mouths.”

— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff

The NFL team from Washington, D.C., said last week that former Texas Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy lent his 16-foot skiff boat to friends, including fellow Longhorn legend Jordan Shipley, to aid in Houston flood rescues. The group drove from Austin to the west side of Houston to help rescue people trapped in their homes by rising water.

According to the team, McCoy said, “I don’t have a family in Houston, but everybody in America knows somebody from Houston — there’s six million people there.”

He also said his sister-in-law’s family left their home in Southeast Texas.

In addition to donating his boat to the relief cause, the team said McCoy “also donated funds to a couple of organizations.”

McCoy isn’t the only ex-Texas player helping his home state. Vince Young posted on Instagram on Aug. 28 that his family was rescued by officials during the storm and he would “see everybody shortly with team help!!!” His foundation also set up a crowdfunding campaign page with YouCaring.

— Maribel Molina, American-Statesman staff

• For the past several years, a wall at Viva Tacoland near the old Pearl Brewery featured a San Antonio version of Austin’s beloved “I love you so much” mural. At 103 W. Grayson St., the gray wall featured the same phrase, but with “love” crossed out and the mural edited to read “I love tacos so much.”

For the next couple weeks, though, San Antonians will get the opportunity to show their love for Houston and raise funds for the city just down Interstate 10.

The mural now reads “I love Houston so much” and, according to a recent story in the San Antonio Express-News, “each Instagram photo posted at the wall with the hashtag ‘#ILoveHoustonSoMuch’ will be matched with a $1 donation from Viva Tacoland and its bar to various relief charities.”

The original “I love you so much” mural in Austin was created in 2010 next to Jo’s Hot Coffee as a love letter from Austin musician Amy Cook to her partner Liz Lambert. Though the mural has been vandalized several times, it has always come back strong.

— Dave Thomas, American-Statesman staff

• Amid the chaos Tropical Storm Harvey has brought to Texas, one uninvited Houston house guest found viral fame on Facebook. Viviana Saldana posted three video clips of a man trying to catch a fish with his bare hands. The fish, by the way, was in their flooded living room.

“Why go out looking for food when the food is coming to our living room?” Saldana wrote in the Facebook post. As of the end of last week, the videos had been shared more than 600,000 times on Facebook.

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