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.
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable