In this August 29, 2017, photo, highways around downtown Houston are empty as floodwaters from Harvey overflow from the bayous around the city in Houston. (AP Photo)
Houston: As floodwaters receded and rescuers searched waterlogged neighbourhoods for more potential victims, Houston officials began turning their attention to finding temporary housing for those in shelters and getting enough gasoline for people to fill up cars — but also to the city's long-term recovery, which will take years and billions of dollars.
Authorities raised the death toll from the storm to 39 late on Thursday. And the latest statewide damage surveys revealed the staggering extent of the destruction.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said more than 37,000 homes were heavily damaged and nearly 7,000 were destroyed, figures that did not include the tens of thousands of homes with minor damage. About 325,000 people have already sought federal emergency aid in the wake of Harvey. More than $57 million in individual assistance has already been paid out, FEMA officials said.
Harris County FEMA director Tom Fargione said the agency was looking for ways to house people who lost their homes to Harvey, with 32,000 people reported in shelters across Texas. Some evacuees had begun returning to their homes — the George R Brown Convention Center, where 10,000 people took shelter, housed 8,000 evacuees late Thursday.
The priority is to get those who weren't able to return to their homes into some form of temporary housing, Fargione said.
"Right now, nothing is off the table. This is a tremendous disaster in terms of size and scope."