AUSTIN, Texas – Harvey has so far killed at least 70 people. Experts say that surprisingly low toll shows that people heeded warnings, that first responders and volunteers acted quickly and that everyone was lucky.
Phil Bedient is co-director of a Rice University effort to research severe storms and evacuations. He says it was astounding that such a large and powerful storm did not result in more deaths.
Lessons learned from previous disasters made a difference too. Floodgates installed around hospitals kept the power on. Search-and-rescue crews raced toward the coast ahead of time. Houston leaders did not call for a mass evacuation, keeping people off highways that later flooded.
It also helped that Harvey crashed ashore along one of the more rural stretches of the Texas coast.