The remnants of Hurricane Harvey continue to dump rain on the Houston area. Flooding is only expected to get worse this week, with National Weather Service flood warnings lasting until Wednesday evening. And humans aren’t the only ones being affected by the storm’s wrath.
Texas news outlets are already reporting alligators and fire ant colonies floating through the water. Even a well-known bat colony has fallen victim. But not all of the reports are true—many of the same old viral images pop up whenever cities flood.
Harvey’s historic flooding really has dredged up animals, reported by the Meyerland Patch site and predicted by The Atlantic. The Houston Chronicle reports that Christy Kroboth from Houston’s Gator Squad was already called in to capture a five-foot alligator (five feet is fairly puny given how large they can actually grow).
Others are reporting that bats living beneath Waugh Bridge, a Houston tourist destination complete with a bat-viewing platform, are struggling to survive and washing up dead.
One of the more shocking videos to emerge from the flooding features colonies of fire ants floating to protect themselves. During floods, the ants form floating islands of stinging pain. One study, published in 2011 in the Journal of Experimental Biology, explains that the ants form the raft’s shape with their legs, and fill in the spaces with smaller ants, allowing for more connections to hold the raft together and better buoyancy.
But many of the photos that might pop up on your timelines are fakes, meant only to induce panic and clicks. The Fort Bend County’s Sheriff’s Office shared the old photos below, before Harvey made landfall, simply to warn residents of the potential for dangerous visitors. They’re appearing now as if they were taken during Harvey. Should these photos pop up on your news feeds and timelines—they’re old.
And then there’s this classic:
Snopes debunked this image back in 2011 during Hurricane Irene, and again in 2016 during Hurricane Matthew—there are not yet confirmed stories of sharks swimming down highways.
There are enough real, horrible and heartbreaking images to go around—and there really are gators and ants floating around Houston. The situation is awful, but it’s worth checking the source to ensure that you’re helping spread information and not adding to the panic.
[via Meyerland Patch]