As if losing their property to rising flood waters and being forced into shelters was not enough, Houston residents now have the added threat of looters and robbers posing as government agents to worry about as well.
Residents have been “evacuated” from their homes by criminals posing as fire fighters, EMTs and Immigration workers who then turn around and then wipe out the empty homes, the Houston Chronicle reports.
This is the reason why Houston officials announced a city-wide curfew from midnight to 5 am after police arrested a crew of armed robbers caught stealing abandoned vehicles and amid reports of robberies of empty homes.
Police warn residents awaiting help to demand to see badges and identification from anyone knocking at their door, especially anyone demanding that they immediately leave the premises.
The situation has degenerated so badly that residents have become wary of those coming to rescue them. Firefighter Jody Garcia told the Houston Chronicle that when he tried to rescue a couple trapped on the second floor of a flooded home, the husband pulled a shotgun on him and ordered him to leave. Needless to say, he called county police to come help them instead.
During Harvey relief efforts US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not conducting immigration enforcement operations in the area.
In Houston, people coming into shelters will not have their immigration status checked.
Authorities and family members have reported at least 18 deaths from Harvey, while law enforcement agencies said more than 13,000 people have been rescued in the Houston area and surrounding parts of Southeast Texas.
The storm that first came ashore on Friday has forced tens of thousands of people to flee deluged homes and caused damage estimated at tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the costliest U.S. natural disasters.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said a record 51.88 inches (131.78 cm) of rain has fallen in Texas due to Harvey, a record for any storm in the continental United States.