11 Staggering Numbers That Help To Put The Harvey Catastrophe Into Perspective

It's difficult to fathom the enormity of this storm event.

It has been a week since Harvey made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane, devastating Southeast Texas and causing dozens of deaths.

Even as the storm began to weaken as it moved northward this week, it continued to dump rain on the Louisiana-Texas border and threatened to bring more severe weather to parts of Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama.

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In Houston, waters have begun to recede, but tens of thousands of people remain sheltered, their homes flooded and without power, their lives turned upside down.

While the full impact from a storm with the power and enormity of Harvey is difficult to fathom and is still being calculated, the numbers below help to put it into perspective.

27 trillion

The estimated number of gallons of rain water dumped over Texas and Louisiana over the last six days. It’s nearly impossible to imagine a volume of water that enormous, but some tried to give it scope. CNN’s Jim Sciutto said that much water could fill the Houston Astrodome 85,000 times, a local ABC affiliate calculated that the water could supply New York City for more than five decades, and Paul Deanno, chief meteorologist for a San Francisco CBS affiliate, said just half of that total rainfall could have ended the state of California’s drought in just three days.


The number of storm-related fatalities that have been confirmed to date. The death toll has continued to rise in the days since Harvey made landfall and it’s expected to increase further.


The number of inches of rainfall measured by a gauge in Cedar Bayou, near Mont Belvieu, Texas, according to researchers at the National Weather Service. That’s now the greatest amount of rainfall over land for a single storm in continental U.S. history. It fell just short of the all-time record. According to NOAA’s data, the wettest tropical cyclone record still belongs to Hurricane Hiki, which developed off the coast of Hawaii in August 1950 and dropped 52 inches of rain.



The number of people forced out of their homes and currently sheltered in the state of Texas in 239 facilities, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Thursday report.


The number of customers in Texas currently without power due to the impact of the storm, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. About 11,000 customers in Louisiana are also without power.

Win McNamee via Getty Images


The number of counties in Texas for which Gov. Greg Abbott issued disaster declarations. Abbott requested and was approved for a Presidential Disaster declaration for another 29 counties.


The number of animals currently being sheltered in Texas. In 69 open shelters, the Texas Animal Health Commission is tracking 513 cattle, 664 horses, 20 sheep, 66 goats, 5 swine, 10 poultry, 5 pet birds, 2 rabbits, 106 dogs, 14 cats and 1,024 unidentified exotic animals. Eighteen other shelters are also housing 453 pets.

MARK RALSTON via Getty Images


The number of highways currently closed or flooded, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. The agency said it has nearly 2,000 personnel and over 1,500 pieces of equipment responding to the storm event. Texas DOT also reports some roads closed due to flooding in 32 counties.


The number of chemical facilities and oil and gas refineries that have reported problems in the wake of Harvey with more than two dozen more threatened, according to the Sierra Club. On Thursday morning, a fire raged at one chemical plant, Arkema, on the outskirts of Houston, due to chemical reactions at the flooded factory. The day before, the company warned that a fire or explosion over the next several days was virtually inevitable as the floodwaters have blocked responders from taking meaningful action at the plant. On Tuesday alone, the Sierra Club reported that the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center received more than 30 calls regarding spilled gasoline, crude oil, petroleum and the release of contaminants from flare stacks as a result of Harvey.

Adrees Latif / Reuters


Harvey is a one-in-1,000 year flood event ― meaning it’s extraordinarily rare. 99.9 percent of the time, such an event will never happen in a given year, Shane Hubbard, a Wisconsin researcher who made the calculation told The Washington Post.


The estimated number of homes that have been destroyed due to the impact of Harvey, said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett ― who is also the director of Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management ― to ABC News. The full tally of homes destroyed and damaged is still unknown. During a Thursday press briefing, White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert estimated that 100,000 homes were affected by Harvey and the subsequent flooding.

This article has been updated to include the estimate from Bossert.

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