Buzz, Photo

Before and After Photos Capture Devastating Flooding in Houston

Every time a bad storm hits Houston, Aaron Cohan watches the waters of the Buffalo Bayou rise. He lives on the 25th floor of a high-rise in the Memorial Heights neighborhood just west of downtown, with a prime view of the river snaking through a park below. But nothing beat the flood he woke to Sunday morning after Hurricane Harvey dumped 20 inches of rain in just 48 hours. The entire area transformed into a lake with only the treetops peeking above.

“This is completely different,” Cohan says. “I’ve never seen anything like what’s happening right now.”

The Category Four storm rolled in on Friday, battering Corpus Christi before plowing towards Houston the following day. It dumped 12 trillion gallons of rain on south Texas, forcing some 30,000 people to flee their homes and leaving at least nine dead. With Harvey predicted to drop 20 more inches in the next few days, the hurricane could be the biggest rain-producing storm to pummel the US in more than a century.

Cohan was born and raised in Houston and has lived in Memorial Heights for four years. Like many locals, he hunkered down at home Saturday night when the bayou began to overflow. He watched as the water spilled over the sidewalks, flooded nearby housing developments, and threatened to overtake the streetlights shining in the dark. “As the water kept creeping up, you could see it getting closer and closer to the bulbs,” he says. When Cohen awoke early Sunday morning, the bayou had swelled nearly 15 feet.

He grabbed his smartphone, ran out onto the balcony and snapped a pic. Cohan uploaded it to Twitter alongside a photo he took at sunset a week before, which immediately spread across social media. The contrast is sobering—one photo depicts a verdant park typically crowded with joggers and cyclists, the other a gray, muddy mess. The memory will stick with Cohen, and Houston, long after the flooding recedes.

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