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The Evacuation That Wasn't

For Houston residents facing flooded highways in Hurricane Harvey, there was nowhere to go.
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Charlie Riedel/AP Photo

Wesley Highfield hasn’t left his home since Friday night. Saturday in Friendswood, Texas saw 26 inches of rain, with 15 inches falling in just three hours. Sunday dumped another seven inches; today’s forecast is another six to eight.

But Highfield, a professor of marine sciences at Texas A&M University at Galveston who specializes in flood resilience, never considered evacuating with his wife and two young children in the face of the Hurricane Harvey. Many other residents in the Houston metro didn’t either, following the implicit advice from local leaders, who issued no evacuation orders by Friday, to ride out the storm—even after Texas Governor Greg Abbott encouraged residents in low lying and coastal areas to evacuate on their own accord.