In Flood-Ravaged Houston, Lawmakers Promise Federal Help – The … – New York Times

As murky, brownish floodwaters have receded in many areas and businesses have reopened, the full scope of the crisis has grown apparent. Curbsides are littered with water-soaked mattresses. Houses are covered with mold. And the death toll continues to rise, with local officials in Texas reporting that at least 60 fatalities were related or suspected to be related to the storm.

The destruction has stretched far beyond Houston. Tiny cattle towns and urban centers across a huge swath of the Texas and Louisiana coast were inundated. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said on Monday that it had already approved more than 172,000 individual applications for aid. Those applications, the agency said, were worth more than $268 million.

In Crosby, Tex., northeast of Houston, residents who live near a chemical plant were allowed to return home for the first time in almost a week, after the intentional burning of unstable chemicals at the plant. South of the city in Port Aransas, Tex., which took the brunt of Harveys landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, federal officials surveyed the wreckage and met with local leaders on Monday.

Here in Houston, where many streets have reopened but a mandatory evacuation order remains in effect for some homes, police officers paused on Monday to honor Sgt. Steve Perez, who drowned on Aug. 27, during a peak of the storm, while driving to work.

The cars you see are from his immediate chain of command, said Chief Art Acevedo, who recorded a long procession of police cruisers arriving at a funeral home to salute as Sergeant Perezs body was moved inside.

Later in the afternoon, federal lawmakers toured the NRG Center in Houston, the convention facility where about 2,900 people were still staying on Monday. The politicians handed out phone chargers and hugged displaced residents who spoke about property destroyed and livelihoods upended. Lea Jones, who met with Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, said in an interview that her home was ruined and that her husband, a pipe fitter and welder, lost all his tools during the storm.

The congressional delegation was an unlikely mix, with both small-government conservatives like Mr. Cruz and their Democratic colleagues speaking about the need for sustained, generous federal aid. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas, said that she expected recovery costs to exceed $180 billion, and that the federal government is an umbrella a big one on a rainy day.

At a part of the convention center being used to distribute supplies, Jonathan Lemaster, 35, said on Monday that his house was completely flooded and that he had slept in his car for three days before finding out about the shelter.

Its just been overwhelming, Mr. Lemaster said, adding that many evacuees did not have flood insurance.

Mr. Cruz tried to reassure him. Were going back to Washington, the senator said, and were going to see very significant disaster relief coming together.

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In Flood-Ravaged Houston, Lawmakers Promise Federal Help – The … – New York Times

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