Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas, on Aug. 25. For the next several days, rain bands pummeled the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. In Houston, the bands lingered and, in many parts of the city, there was a recorded 55 inches of rain—a new record for the United States for a single rain event. Houses and businesses were flooded, causing thousands of people to be evacuated and displaced. Recovery is still ongoing, and for some it will take years to complete all of the work that needs to be done to their homes or businesses.
NASA’s Johnson Space Center did not escape the torrential rains, and endured the storm like the rest of the city.
On the JSC Safety, Health and Environmental website, a project called “Life with Harvey” tells the stories of what happened during Hurricane Harvey at Johnson and how the center moved forward. It focuses on the major lessons learned from this once-in-a-lifetime storm so they are never forgotten and can be used to advise other NASA centers and government agencies who may encounter hurricanes or severe flooding events in the future.
There are stories about what happened in the International Space Station’s Mission Control Center, where flight controllers were forced to sleep on cots in the control rooms. The Sonny Carter Training Facility, which houses the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, and Ellington Field experienced water intrusion inside their facilities and had to undergo some reconstruction. Cryogenic testing for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope was in process in Chamber A, the behemoth thermal vacuum chamber that mimicked deep space conditions for the space-based observatory. While only slightly impacted by the storm, the building itself experienced major roof leaks.
Also included in this series is the story of Johnson intern Emmalee Mauldin, a journalist in training whose house flooded with six feet of water. She shares how she was saved by a “series of heroes.” Being rescued from her home in a stranger’s boat is something Mauldin will never forget.
Despite the hardship, out of the storm came the mantra: “Houston Strong.” Houstonians rallied together to take care of those who needed help. From donating food and supplies to volunteering time to clean out flooded homes, the Houston Strong spirit was evident everywhere.
Look for the in-depth “Life with Harvey” series internally on the JSC Safety, Health and Environmental website:
NASA Johnson Space Center
Floodwaters caused by Hurricane Harvey. Image courtesy of Emmalee Mauldin.