While Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is busy defending his decision not to order an evacuation ahead of Hurricane Harvey, and while Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who was in favor of an evacuation, is taking the high road and saying "Now is not the time to second-guess the decisions that were made," choosing to focus now on the immediate "need to respond to the emergencies and necessities the people of Houston have," we now learn that Houston officials, including the Mayor, not only knew the potential catastrophe that was heading towards his city, but lied about it to the point of labeling those in the know, warning of massive devastation, as spreading "false rumors."
THE WARNINGS BEFORE HARVEY MADE LANDFALL
One of those warnings that was labeled "fake news" by the mayor himself, was posted on Facebook, by Houston resident Rebecca Reisig, who wrote the following before Harvey made landfall.
Hey guys, I’m not trying to start a panic, but as some of you know, I work for a law firm here downtown. One of the lawyers I work with has a friend on the Houston City Council. The news is not telling the whole truth. The storm is expected to be three times worse than what the news is saying because they don’t want a panic on the freeways like Hurricane Rita. The City Council and Harris County Flood Control had an emergency meeting this morning. Evertything south of Katy is predicted to be devastated. They’re predicting 50 inches of rain, not 24 like the news is saying, and 100,000 homes destroyed. Theyre expecting all of Houston to be without power for three days. If you guys live in a flood zone, you need to get out of Houston or try to stay with someone further north of Houston. I hope they’re wrong, but that is the latest I’ve heard from what the news isn’t telling you. Stay safe everyone.
After city officials, the local news media, and the Mayor himself labeled Ms. Reisig's warning as "irresponsible rumors" and "false forecasts," as well as providing a copy of her warning with a red label on it saying FALSE," her Facebook account disappeared, but her warning was proven correct, while the Mayors statement, as well as a tweet by Harris County OHSEM, labeling it as "false" and the news reports downplaying the severity of the Hurricane that was about to hit, were all proven to be the actual "false" news.
Another warning came via and email from a Sugar Land lawyer, which warned the the approaching Hurricane Harvey could be far more devastating than first estimated, and again, Houston officials, with the help of the media, waved away the warnings calling them "false information."
Here was the Mayor's statement regarding the warnings, via The Tribune:
False forecasts and irresponsible rumors on social media are interfering with efforts by the city of Houston, and its government and news media partners, to provide accurate information to the public about the expected effects of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Harvey," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said today.
"All residents of Houston and surrounding areas should rely solely on proven information sources, including the National Weather Service and the city Office of Emergency Management, to decide how to prepare for the heavy rainfall expected here," the mayor added.
"No evacuation orders have been issued for the city and none is being considered.
"Please continue to monitor mainstream news sources for updates on the weather and act accordingly as an informed resident. Rumors are nothing new, but the widespread use of social media has needlessly frightened many people today.”
The initial FB post warning of the catastrophic flooding, and more rain than what was being reported, as well as the amount of homes that would be destroyed, has been proven now that the damage is being seen in heartbreaking images from across Texas, but it was Reisig's explicit reference to Hurricane Rita that catches the eye, because now, that is exactly what Mayor Turner is using as justification for not ordering an evacuation in the first place.
"You cannot put, in the city of Houston, 2.3 million people on the road. That is dangerous," Turner said. "When you combine Houston and Harris County, you literally cannot put 6.5 million people on the road."
The mainstream media, from the New York Times, to CNN, to Washington Post, are all pushing the same narrative of Turner being praised by "city officials" because of "lessons learned during Hurricane Rita in September 2005." (All links to those articles citing Hurricane Rita are Archive is links)
Wow, seems Ms. Reisig, was spot on as to the reason Turner refused to listen to the Governor and order mandatory evacuations.
HOUSTON OFFICIALS LIED, PEOPLE DIED
Ordering mandatory evacuations or not came down to a judgement call on the part of the Mayor and other city officials, and people can debate whether it was a good call or a bad call, all day long, but that is not the point.
The point here, of this article, is that the Mayor, Houston city officials and the news media, lied. They called the warnings from those that have been proven to have been correct, even to the point of highlighting why the city officials made the decisions they did, "false forecasts," and "irresponsible rumors," when in reality, they were the truth...... truth Houston's Mayor, the media and city officials deliberately took actions and issued statements in order to hide it from the people of Houston.
Here is the Mayors email to media after the FB post and emails were sent out warning residents they were being lied to by the media and city officials:
Mayor Turner took the right to make an informed decision away from his residents. He deliberately told the people that elected him that the warnings of massive catastrophe were false, when knowing those warnings were true could have saved lives.
The death toll is already at 14, the latest of which was a family of six that were trying to escape the floodwaters. Would they have voluntarily evacuated before Harvey hit if they knew the truth, if the Mayor had not deliberately hidden the truth of the expected flooding dangers? That is anyones guess, but the fact is he didn't give them that choice because he deliberately told them to disregard warnings we now know were true.
The mayor isn't the only one with blood on his hands, as those warnings were also called "FALSE" local media, with headlines like "VERIFY: Alarming posts spreading on social media are FALSE, by KHOU, the day before Harvey made landfall. Same with Houston's Chron.com, that headlined with "Hurricane Harvey: Harris County bats down false, viral storm assessment, where they told their readers "The false information, in an email from the address of lawyer Ross Bale, indicated officials believed the approaching Hurricane Harvey could be far more devastating than first estimated."
If they think the people of Houston, or the rest of the country are going to forget they deliberately lied, they have another thing coming as social media users are taking them to task for their original denials and lies calling the warnings "false."
Via Facebook, despite the fact that Ms. Reisig deleted her account, others are making sure people see her warning, via screen shots, and taking the media and the city of Houston to task.
One user says "Rebecca Reisig tried to warn us, but they tried to shut her up and discredit her. Always distraction tactics vs telling the truth. Thank you Rebecca for being honest. Another states "UNBELIEVABLE: City of Houston brands resident Rebecca Reisig "fake news" only to be proven FAKE NEWS itself two short days later? See photos:" The photos provided were of Reisig's original warning, then the mayor's statement, and the Harris County OHSEM tweet claiming her warning was "FALSE."
Via the Harris County OHSEM twitter comments to their labeling the warnings false: "I guess it's not so fake now, huh?," user The Mad Hessian tells them. Twitter user Rod says "You still sticking to that "false" narrative?" Another user Ian tells them "careful not to break any fingers as you mash those phones trying to lawyer up asap." Another user Lauren points out "Way to drop the ball @ReadyHarris , pretty much everything this chick wrote actually happened. #NotFakeNews." Texican states "Hmmmm... looks like it wasn't false at all. Smart people didn't believe the democrats, and trusted the governor. Fans of Mayor, flooded..."
The Mayor of Houston, city officials and the local media, lied to the residents of Houston and then told them to ignore warnings that have now been proven to have been correct. They did so by labeling the truth as "fake news," and they stole the right of Houston citizens to make an informed decision for themselves as to what was best for them and their families.
What right did they have to mislead Houston residents, hide information from them, information that would have allowed them to use their own judgement as to what was best for their families?
LIVE STREAM below as showing the ongoing devastation. Beneath that are some other issues, and accounts from Texas.
Keep the people of Texas and Louisiana in your thoughts and prayers.