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Assistance Still Needed After Hurricane Season Ends

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MERCEDES----Hurricane season is officially over, but recovery from the historic damage caused by this season is far from finished.  The experts believe another historic season like this one, could happen again.

In a year of record-breaking storms, the destruction changed people forever. A Mercedes man spent the greater part of the last two months making repairs to churches and homes along our coastline. He says he never expected to see this kind of devastation. "As I got there I saw, I’m sorry I don’t do well with this," Robert Lyle tears up as he recalls his first glimpses at the destruction left in the wake of Harvey. "When I got there I saw individuals in some areas in their cars, that their cars were flooded out and they were stranded in the water."

Lyle traveled from Mercedes to help the day after Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport.  His truck was filled with supplies. "It was quite saddening to see," says Lyle. "People who did not know what to do and all they could do was sit there, in their car, and wait for help. Some places were too flooded. You couldn’t do anything but help people evacuate."

Although hurricane season has ended, more than two months later Lyle says the volunteer organization he is a part of is still getting requests for help. People are waiting to repair their homes and he says some of the displaced are in the Rio Grande Valley. Lyle tells us, "There are a lot of people up there in those homes who need someone with skilled labor. Put the insulation back, put the sheetrock back, do some of the repairs needed, so that these families can get back in their homes."

The damage is just part of a year filled with historic firsts. The 2017 Hurricane season marked the 5th most active on record in the Atlantic. There were 17 named storms.

"The most exceptional thing about this hurricane season was the number of major hurricanes," says Channel 5 News Meteorologist Matt Holiner.  "Category 3 or higher of major hurricanes, there were 6 of them. It’s very rare that you see that."

Holiner says Harvey’s hit to a major metropolis, made it the storm to top all others, "It’s kind of scary because it could happen again."

That’s the concern for next year. At the National Weather Service in Brownsville Meteorologist Barry Goldsmith explains, "The number of storms could go down, but the intensity of the storms that do form, there’s a better chance they will be more intense."

Goldsmith says NOAA's research shows conditions are changing. Warming waters are leaving the window open for more hurricanes those that developed this year. "We expect to see more of that in time, in a warming world, than less of that," says Goldsmith.

He goes on to tell us that it wasn’t just Harvey that broke records, with it’s unprecedented 50 to 60 inches of rainfall in the Houston area. He says Hurricane Irma also showed weather experts something they’ve never seen before. In describing its impact with Florida, Goldsmith says, "Every point on the peninsula had some period of hurricane force gusts. That’s something that other storms have not had the ability to do, that have come across the peninsula in modern years."

In a historic year, the resulting destruction will only be repaired with time. "I could not believe the amount of damage," says Lyle. "It just ripped up your insides to see," Lyle says right now, there is a need for skilled laborers in hard-hit areas. If you are interested in donating your time, Lyle says you can visit JustServe.org.

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