US President Donald Trump heads to Texas Saturday to assess conditions in the storm-ravaged state as residents of Houston and other cities were returning home to face the grim, possibly years-long task of rebuilding.
One week after Harvey blasted into southeast Texas as a Category Four hurricane, rescuers were still searching by air and by boat for people trapped in flooded homes.
A fresh blaze broke out Friday evening at a chemical plant in Crosby, northeast of Houston, sending a giant plume of thick black smoke billowing into the sky.
And as floodwaters receded in Houston, Texas’ biggest city, nearby towns such as Beaumont — which had lost its water supply — and Port Arthur were struggling to get back on their feet.
“I ain’t never seen nothing like it in my 37 years,” said Tobias James, surveying the damage to his home in Port Arthur, including the two ruined cars in his flooded garage.
Just two days earlier, the oil and gas refinery worker was hoisted out of rising floodwaters by a rescue helicopter, along with his wife and children.
Harvey has been blamed for at least 42 deaths thus far and tens of billions of dollars of damage.
The White House will ask Congress for $7.9 billion in emergency aid, calling it a “down payment” on the long-term cost of recovering from the catastrophic flooding.
Trump, who has declared Sunday to be a “National Day of Prayer” for victims of Hurricane Harvey, put an upbeat gloss on the situation.
“Texas is healing fast thanks to all of the great men & women who have been working so hard,” he tweeted. “But still so much to do. Will be back tomorrow!”
He added later Friday: “Great progress being made!”
The president is returning to Texas Saturday for his second visit since the megastorm hit, and will also go to neighboring Louisiana, accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump.