Wed, Aug 30, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Trump promises federal aid to Texas

STALLED STORM FRONT:Harvey is hovering along the Texas coast, dumping torrential rain, with the Houston metro area expected to receive more than 127cm in a week

AP and Reuters, WASHINGTON and HOUSTON, Texas

Volunteers with boats make their way into a flooded subdivision in Spring, Texas, to rescue stranded residents as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise.

Photo: AP

US President Donald Trump has promised federal assistance to storm-ravaged parts of Texas, insisting the US Congress will act swiftly on a multibillion-dollar Hurricane Harvey recovery package as the government signaled current funds will be exhausted in the next few weeks.

“I think it’ll happen very quickly,” Trump said Monday. “It’ll go very fast.”

He said existing disaster balances of more than US$3 billion are sufficient for the immediate emergency, but promised his administration will send lawmakers a request for far more to help Texas rebuild from the record storm.

“The real number, which will be many billions of dollars, will go through Congress,” Trump said at a White House news conference.

Trump was scheduled to visit Texas yesterday.

The slow-moving storm has brought catastrophic flooding to Texas, killed at least nine people, led to mass evacuations and paralyzed Houston, the fourth-most populous US city.

It had also roiled energy markets and caused damage estimated to be in the billions of dollars, with rebuilding likely to last beyond Trump’s four-year term in office.

“My administration is coordinating closely with state and local authorities in Texas and Louisiana to save lives, and we thank our first responders and all of those involved in their efforts,” Trump on Monday told reporters at the White House.

Trump was scheduled to arrive in Corpus Christi, near where Harvey came ashore on Friday. He was to later go to the state capital, Austin, to meet officials, receive briefings and tour the emergency operation center, the White House said.

Flood damage in Texas from Harvey may equal that from Hurricane Katrina, one of the costliest natural disaster in US history, an insurance research group said on Sunday.

In Texas, thousands of National Guard troops, police officers, rescue workers and civilians raced in helicopters, boats and high-water trucks to rescue the thousands stranded in the flooding, which turned streets into rivers and caused chest-high water build-ups in scores of neighborhoods.

In Cypress, Texas, Kayla Harvey, 26, was monitoring Facebook, finding where people were stuck and organizing friends with boats to go out and help.

“This is just what we do for our community. We don’t wait for someone to come and help we just go out and do it,” she said.

Among the most recent fatalities from Harvey was a family of two adults and four children who were believed to have drowned after the van they were in was swept away by floodwaters in Houston, authorities said on Monday.

A man drowned on Monday night trying to swim across flooded Houston-area roads, the Houston Chronicle reported the Montgomery County Constable’s Office as saying.

Since coming ashore, Harvey has virtually stalled along the Texas coast, picking up warm water from the Gulf of Mexico and dumping rain from San Antonio to Louisiana.

The Houston metro area has suffered some of the worst precipitation, with certain areas expected to receive more than 127cm of rain in a week, more than it typically receives for a year.

US Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Brock Long estimated that 30,000 people would eventually be housed temporarily in shelters.

Houston and Dallas have set up shelters in convention centers and Austin was preparing to house as many as 7,000 evacuees.

Hundreds of Houston-area roads were blocked by high water. The city’s two main airports were shut as the floods turned runways into ponds and more than a quarter million customers were without power as of yesterday morning.

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