When disaster strikes, things can easily go awry, however. Three prisons that evacuated during Harvey also had to move their inmates after flooding in May. A power outage caused a riot in one of the units. (There were no serious injuries.) In 2009, Galveston County, Texas did not evacuate its jail in preparation for Hurricane Ike, and about 1,000 detainees sufferreed through dismal sanitary conditions, according to a report from the advocacy group Texas Civil Rights Project. The water supply was limited, as was food and access to medication and medical personnel.

During Hurricane Katrina, the situation was even worse. More than 6,500 prisoners—men, women, and children—were abandoned at the Orleans Parish Prison by the authorities. They didn’t have access to food, water or ventilation. Some, including a 13-year-old girl in juvenile detention, were locked in their cells where water, often contaminated by sewage, would rise up to their chests. This went on for several days, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union.

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