More than 195,000 people have registered for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency following Hurricane Harvey, FEMA recovery director Alex Amparo said in a news conference on Wednesday.
Other FEMA officials stressed that the agency and its partners are focused on meeting basic needs for people displaced by the storm and rescuing those still trapped amid flooding and historic rainfall. “The operation right now is very clear. We’re still in life-saving, life-sustaining mode,” said FEMA administrator Brock Long.
So far, FEMA has provided more than $35 million in financial assistance to those affected by the storm, which killed as many as 20 people and left thousands more stranded amid flooding. More than 230 shelters are currently serving thousands of people, with roughly 1,800 people placed in hotels and motels, Long said.
The category 4 storm brought flooding and destruction to the region, with more than 2,000 people rescued so far, according to Houston police. Record-breaking rainfall was recorded in Cedar Bayou, Texas, where 51.88 inches of rain marked a new high for rainfall in the continental U.S., according to the National Weather Service.
More than 50 Texas counties have been impacted by the storm, with rain and wind ongoing and many people still calling for help. The Coast Guard is taking overflow calls from 911 and receiving more than 1,000 calls per hour, said Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, commandant of the Coast Guard.
Officials also stressed that the recovery effort would take years. “We expect a many-year recovery in Texas and the federal government is in this for the long haul,” said Elaine Duke, acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. “We will continue to support the people of Texas for as long as it is necessary.”
Long asked that people “continue to find ways to volunteer,” and said volunteers will be needed for several years to come.