US president Donald Trump has requested the US congress to approve $7.84 billion meant to be used as an initial emergency funding to help deal with the devastating effects rendered by Hurricane Harvey, as areas that were hit by the powerful storm recover from its effects. A letter addressed to the legislators from president Trump on Friday read, “The administration believes additional federal resources are necessary to continue to fund critical, and often life-saving, response and recovery missions.”
According to AccuWeather, a privately owned meteorological agency that delivers weather forecasts and data to most of the US mainstream media, had foreseen that the cost of Hurricane Harvey would surpass the $190 billion mark, or at least one percent of USA’s GDP. The funding request is expected to be approved swiftly by the lawmakers and would add to the funds received by the deteriorating federal Management Agency to carry it through September 30.
The first Harvey Package would just be an installment for an immediate response to the effects of the disaster such as clean up, housing assistance and housing repairs financed by the FEMA. The white house has said that more than 436,000 households have requested for FEMA aid. Exact estimates for the cost of long-term costs of rebuilding would take a while to prepare. However preliminary results show that the magnitude of the effects of this disaster could compete or even surpass the damage created by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which cost the taxpayer about $110.
According to speaker of the House Paul Ryan, nothing would stop a bill aimed at approving aid for Hurricane Harvey victims, the strong opposition to federal aid from some republicans notwithstanding. Ryan said that it would take some time to fully calculate the toll by Harvey. He went ahead to say that the size of the storm was extraordinary hence deserved federal action. The same sentiments were echoed by the Leader of Majority to the Senate Mitch McConnell, who issued a statement on Friday night promising that the senate was ready to act promptly to help in the recovery process following Hurricane Harvey.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that rescue operations were still ongoing throughout the city, and workers were going door-to-door in the Texas city to ensure that no one had been left behind, more so the elderly and the disabled. “There are still many rescues in the region, but with regards to the city of Houston, we are starting to move into the recovery phase with the number of rescues being dramatically down,” Turner said at a briefing.
Mayor Turner has also announced that a process of voluntary evacuation of people living near reservoirs has kicked off. He said that the USA Army Corps of Engineers must discharge water from the reservoirs for the next 15days to alleviate the possibility of an extreme catastrophe should it rain again. He added that the flood was already subsiding in some parts of Houston. However, authorities were yet to assess the exact damage caused.
Risk of more flooding
According to flood authorities, at least four trillion liters of water fell on Harris county, where Houston is located, and 136,000 buildings were flooded due to Hurricane Harvey a week ago. The spokesman for the local emergency officials, Francisco Sanchez, said that about 70 percent of the county’s surface (4,500sq km) was covered by at least half a meter of storm water.
While in Washington, President Trump met with religious leaders and decreed that Sunday be a national day to hold prayers for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. He wrote on his Twitter handle saying that Texas is “healing fast thanks to all of the great men & women who have been working so hard in the wake of massive destruction from the hurricane.” He also said that instead of an outbreak of criminal activities in the region, there has been an outbreak of compassion only.
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