Harvey’s Damage Causes Crippling Houston Airport Closures

August 28, 2017, 9:47 PM UTC

Rising flood waters in southeastern Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey have shuttered numerous airports in and around Houston, including George W. Bush International Airport and William P. Hobby Airport. The damage forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights, shutting off one means of evacuating one of the nation’s more densely populated areas.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport, or IAH, says on its website it has closed the airport until further notice. On Monday, the FAA said that airports in Houston are expected to stay closed to the public until Wednesday. United Airlines, which operates its second-biggest hub in Houston, says IAH will be closed until noon Thursday.

The airport closures have forced United, Southwest, and numerous other airlines to cancel flights. For example, United canceled 462, or 19%, of its flights Monday, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. Southwest canceled 330 flights, or 8%, worldwide. Those figures are expected to continue Tuesday.

United (UAL), Southwest (LUV), Delta (DAL) and many others are issuing travel vouchers to customers whose flights were canceled.

Photos by reporters covering the natural disaster, which is anticipated to worsen as rain continues, shows how flood waters have shut off access to IAH.

Harvey has dumped more than 20 inches of rain on portions of southeast Texas since Thursday night, according to the National Weather Service. Harvey, which came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane, has since been downgraded to a tropical storm designation by the National Hurricane Center.

With Harvey stalled over the area, another 15 to 25 inches of rainfall is expected through Thursday, the NWS says. Storm totals in some locations may approach 50 inches.

Despite widespread flooding and rain, Houston airports remain open for humanitarian missions.

Southwest Airlines has helped evacuate stranded passengers at Hobby Airport. And Delta says it will send a rescue flight to IAH on Monday to bring supplies and relief personnel and to evacuate employees and customers.

Some airlines are offering miles to customers who donate to the Red Cross and other organizations. American Airlines, for instance, says AAdvantage members can earn 10 miles for every dollar donated to the Red Cross with a minimum $25 donation between August 25 and September 24.