FEMA Expects Nearly A Half Million Harvey Victims To Seek Disaster Assistance


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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

Federal emergency management officials said Monday that disaster relief resources were being expedited to the Houston area in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which dumped unprecedented amounts of rain and inundated much of the city over the weekend.

Authorities say at least 30,000 people will have to be placed in temporary shelters due to widespread flooding across southeast Texas, an area home to about one quarter of the state’s 28 million residents.

With rains continuing to soak the Houston metro area, more than 450,000 people are expected to seek disaster assistance due to flooding, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long.

“We are not out of the woods yet, not by a long shot,” Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said at a news conference Monday, according to Reuters. “Harvey is still a dangerous and historic storm.”

Harvey hit the Texas coast Friday night as a Category 4 storm. Over the weekend, it dumped between 25 and 50 inches of rain on Houston and the surrounding area, completely overwhelming flood control systems and submerging neighborhoods, interstates and airports. (RELATED: National Weather Service Describes Hurricane Harvey As ‘Unprecedented’)

Volunteers from Texas and across the country have joined state and municipal first responders in search and rescue operations. Houston officials said Monday morning that rescuers have pulled more than 2,000 people from flooded homes and buildings. The official death toll from the storm stands at five, despite the catastrophic flooding, though that figure is expected to rise. (RELATED: HURRICANE WATCH: More Than 30,000 People Expected At Makeshift Shelters Due To Fallout From Harvey)

Duke said federal officials are focused on supporting state and local officials with assistance they need to maintain continuous search and rescue operations.

“Right now we are focused on rescue operations and will move into recovery operations later in the week,” she said. “But today we are deeply concerned with those in Houston and surrounding areas who are stranded and in need of immediate assistance.”

President Donald Trump approved a federal disaster declaration for Texas on Friday and followed up with a similar pronouncement for Louisiana on Monday, as the remnants of Harvey circled back to the northeast.

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