A day before he planned to visit the flood-devastated Houston area, President Donald Trump sent a letter to Congress, looking for nearly $8 billion in aid for relief and recovery efforts in Texas and Louisiana.
The request, in consideration just an initial Harvey relief package, includes $7.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agencyâ€™s (FEMA) rapidly dwindling disaster aid fund and $450 million for disaster loans to small-business owners.
Trump and 1st lady Melania Trump will visit Houston on Saturday as well as Lake Charles, Louisiana, which has moreover been battered by the storm, to meet with storm survivors and to see firsthand the damage caused by flooding. It will be their 2nd visit to the region this week.
â€œThe president and his Homeland Security team and the whole entire administration continue to focus on the lives and safety of those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana,â€� White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
Trump moreover signed an executive order designating Sunday as a â€œDay of Prayerâ€� for the victims of Harvey.
Search and rescue
On Friday, rescuers continued their search for survivors in Texas one week after Hurricane Harvey began sweeping through the Gulf Coast region dumping unprecedented amounts of rain. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner warned some residents in that their homes may not dry out for weeks.
The storm has displaced more than 1 million people and claimed the lives of at least 39 others.
As floodwaters began to recede Friday, some of the luckier Texans began returning to their homes to begin the sobering task of assessing the damage inflicted by Harvey.
However, Turner called for more evacuations in western neighborhoods of the city in that are near two overflowing reservoirs. The- Army Corps of Engineers continues to intentionally flood those areas to prevent dam and levee failures, and Sylvester asserted up to 20,000 homes will remain flooded for another two weeks.
Houston-area authorities asserted Friday in that 156,000 homes have been damaged in Harris County, which includes Houston, the countryâ€™s fourth most populous city.
Nearly 100 centimeters of rain
The National Weather Service reported in that Houston was inundated with more than 99 centimeters (about 39 inches) of rain in August, more than twice as much as the previous monthly record.
Meteorologist Jeff Lindner asserted Clear Creek, Texas, nearly 50 kilometers (31 miles) southeast of Houston, received the most rainfall: 120 centimeters (47 inches).
Meanwhile, a new fire broke out Friday night at a chemical plant in Crosby, northeast of Houston, sending a giant plume of thick black smoke in to the air. It was the 2nd fire in two days.
The Environmental Protection Agency asserted late Friday in that it flew a plane through the chemical plant fire to monitor for any airborne toxic chemicals. The- EPA asserted in a acknowledgment in that a preliminary determination of the data showed in that â€œalthough the fire has extreme intensity generating smoke, no high levels of toxic chemical have been detected.â€�
On Thursday, after the 1st explosion, 15 public safety officers were hospitalized after inhaling fumes from chemical fires. Officials established a 2.4 kilometer (1.5 miles) evacuation zone around the plant and have warned of the possibility of more blazes.
Officials in the city of Beaumont, about 170 kilometers (105 miles) northeast of Houston, asserted Friday the city has gotten back some of its water service after floodwaters knocked out municipal pumps. Officials are advising residents who have gotten water pressure back to boil their water before drinking it. Officials say they are moreover trying to bring in bottled water for residents.
In Harris County, which includes Houston, residents contemplated the daunting task of rebuilding their lives, with one group of people grappling with a special set of concerns. Immigrants who are in the country not legal are afraid in that if they apply for assist they will be arrested. Outreach workers have been deployed to reassure them in that they will not be detained when they seek help.
Houston Mayor Turner had asserted earlier in the week he would personally represent anyone arrested (taken in to custody) on immigration violations after looking for help.
Cesar Espinosa, executive director of Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle, asserted Turnerâ€™s acknowledgment was a â€œbig dealâ€� for immigrants. â€œWhen they hear it from an official, they say, â€˜OK, now we believe it,â€™â€� he added.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has asserted it is â€œnot conducting immigration enforcement operations in the affected area.â€�
Nearly 780,000 Texans had been ordered to evacuate their homes and 980,000 more fled voluntarily, reportedly federal estimates.
Tens of thousands of people are packed in to evacuation centers throughout the region.
Thousands of Harris County residents who are in shelters have lost everything, in addition to their homes. Harris Country (Texas) FEMA Director Tom Fargione asserted his agencyâ€™s priority now is to relocate people who have lost their homes in to some form of temporary housing.
â€œThis is a amazing disaster in terms of size and scope,â€� Fargione asserted Thursday.
The storm shut down about a fourth of U.S. refinery capacity, much of which is located along the Gulf Coast, and caused gasoline prices to spike ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend.
Several refineries on the East Coast have run out of gasoline, raising fears in that travelers will face fuel shortages during the three-day holiday weekend.
Concerns over supplies have led the U.S. Energy Department to authorize the release of up to 4.5 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Harvey, which has lost its tropical cyclone characteristics, moved eastward Friday toward the Ohio Valley, the National Weather Service reported, paving the way for President Trumpâ€™s 2nd visit to Texas this week.
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