The last Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm that devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast. Many who were displaced by Katrina made their way to nearby Houston, which faced Hurricane Harvey's record-breaking rainfall on Friday night. The images spreading through news and social media of flooding, stranded residents, and heroic rescuers, both self-appointed and first responders, are gripping viewers nation- and worldwide.
Harvey has directly affected a full quarter of the population of Texas. Parts of Houston have already seen more than two feet of rain, while others expect more than four feet of rain soon. The storm may be heading back into the Gulf of Mexico, where it could regain strength and make more trouble.
As devastating as Harvey has been for Texas, its effects are far from contained. The storm has already meant a spike in gas prices, especially as oil companies shut down refineries in the Houston area for safety. You can check how prices have changed locally at Gas Buddy, as well as see interactive trend reports at its blog, Fuel Insights.
Houston's two airports are both major airline hubs as well, and with flights grounded, delays and cancellations have rippled throughout the country. As of Sunday night, more than 5,000 flights had been canceled due to Harvey. If you're flying, be sure to check in with your airline or with FlightAware for the status of your trip.
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Mostly, of course, people want to know how they can best help displaced victims of the hurricane. Vox has a round-up of national and local charities working to provide aid; you can evaluate individual organizations through the rating system at Charity Navigator. New Yorker staff writer and Houston native Jia Tolentino has assembled a list of local charities in a Twitter thread, with crowdsourced further contributions.
Consider specific donations to specialized organizations, such as the Texas Diaper Bank, rather than defaulting to well-known nonprofits such as the American Red Cross. If you do choose to send money to a national charity, be sure to direct how your donation will be used with a comment. Your aid can go far with verified groups close to the source.