U.S. President donald trump encouraged flood victims in texas at a meeting and said he was "very happy" about the rescue and relief efforts so far. On sunday, believers across the country joined people in the areas devastated by harvey in prayer.
But as the waters gradually recede in most of east texas, a new powerful hurricane has brewed in the atlantic. For the time being, however, it is completely unclear whether "irma" will pose a threat to the U.S. Mainland.
As of sunday, the hurricane, the third strongest of five categories, was still 1600 kilometers from the lesser antilles. The hurricane center in miami expected the storm to continue to grow in strength as it moved over the water. Whether he will head for the region on the gulf of mexico or the u.S. Coast was not clear until the end of the week.
How rough the outmab of the devastation caused by hurricane harvey is becoming increasingly clear as water levels drop. ABC quoted the texas department of emergency management as estimating that a total of at least 185,000 homes had been damaged in whole or in part.
Rebuilding could cost up to $180 billion (152 billion euros), governor greg abbott says. The area affected and the number of people affected were far more gross than when hurricane katrina hit, abbott said in several television interviews.
His new "harvey" estimates have to do with the fact that floodwaters in texas are receding, making the extent of the devastation caused more and more apparent. "This is going to be a huge disaster that people are going to have to deal with," the governor told CNN. "It will take years to overcome this challenge."
Many people – in houston, for example – have now been able to see for themselves for the first time after fleeing or being rescued from the floods what "harvey" has done to their homes, their possessions and their property. Repeatedly there were heartbreaking scenes. The situation remains particularly tense in the city of beaumont, which continues to be largely dependent on the supply of water and food from eaves.
Trump, however, apparently came to texas on saturday as a comforter and encourager. During his first visit last tuesday, he had focused exclusively on the relief operations, but had no personal contact with victims – which brought him harsh criticism in some quarters. This time, with first lady melania at his side, he first visited an emergency shelter in part of houston’s NRG stadium and showed himself to be a president who could be touched.
Trump shook hands, put affected arm around shoulder, stroked children’s hair and chatted with them. He also repeatedly posed for selfies and helped hand out food, including hot dogs and chips, with melania. "It’s going well. I think people really appreciate what has been done. It’s been done very efficiently, very well," said trump, whose mood observers described as overly optimistic, almost exuberant at times. "We’re very happy with the way things are going. A lot of love, there is a lot of love."
The U.S.’S "first couple" visited a church in houston where aid packages are being packed, then flew on to the neighboring state of louisiana. "Harvey" has also caused flooding here, although on a much smaller scale.
On saturday, the trump administration increased the amount of federal aid that will be given to clean up debris and mull in texas. On friday, the weibe house had already applied to congress for initial aid funds in two stages amounting to around 14.5 billion dollars (12.2 billion euros). A large part of it is to go into the potting shed of the disaster management agency (fema).
However, the sums are only considered a kind of "down payment": according to estimates, the aid needed from washington could exceed the 100 billion dollar mark. Already 440,000 people have applied for assistance from the federal pot, because only a small portion of the flood victims in texas are insured against flooding.
For sunday, trump and texas governor greg abbott had called for a national day of prayer for flood victims. In an eve mass a few 100 meters from the rough emergency shelter in houston, father paul felix pointed out in his sermon that the disaster had brought people together. Despite the pain, it was encouraging to see "the outpouring of goodness and selflessness" that unfolded against the backdrop of the tragedy.
Felix also prayed "that god will spare us and our homes" from further destruction during the hurricane season. This season lasts in the atlantic until the end of november. August/september are usually the high point.