HOUSTON (AP) — It’s been almost a week since Harvey made landfall in Texas and the flooding isn’t over. A look at what’s happening:
ON THE GROUND
Houston now plans a water release from two reservoirs that could keep as many as 20,000 homes flooded for up to 15 days . Officials there are turning their attention to immediate needs such as finding temporary housing for those in shelters, but also to the city’s long-term recovery, which will take years and billions of dollars. New Orleans’ challenges after Hurricane Katrina could prove instructive .
What’s left of Harvey has spread into the Deep South . Flooded creeks drove people from their homes in Tennessee and Kentucky and an apparent tornado damaged homes and toppled trees in a rural area of northwest Alabama.
GIVE ME SHELTER
In Harvey’s wake, big-hearted Texans, businesses and religious institutions have turned their places into shelters. Among them is a furniture store that might just have the most comfortable sleeping arrangements of them all, including luxury mattresses and silky pillowcases.
“If this is what you call a shelter, I might not want to go home,” said 47-year-old India Jackson, who marveled at the silky pillowcases, the $1,000 mattresses and the atrium with its live ocelot and colorful macaws.
An Associated Press analysis of federal flood insurance data shows the number of policies written nationally has fallen by 10 percent over the last five years. The analysis shows that about 5 million properties now have flood insurance compared with 5.5 million in 2012.
The top U.S. official overseeing the National Flood Insurance Program told AP that he wants to double the number of Americans who buy flood insurance. Roy Wright, the director of the insurance program, which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also wants to persuade more communities to limit construction in high-risk flood zones.
The danger isn’t over yet for Harvey evacuees who are returning to flood-ravaged homes where they face the threat of mold, spoiled food, gas leaks and downed power lines. Some people are starting a massive cleanup of their homes and dragging sodden debris to the curbside. Health officials hope to reach them through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with safety messages.
An initial $5.9 billion down payment in Harvey recovery aid will head for congressional passage as early as next week — and it looks likely to be the vehicle to increase the federal debt limit to stave off default. The Harvey proposal is a first installment to keep recovery efforts adequately funded. House Speaker Paul Ryan says nothing will stop it, and GOP leaders aim to use the popular vote on the Harvey money to sweeten the contentious but necessary vote to increase the nation’s debt limit.
For those people looking to help those who were displaced by Harvey, experts say giving money to established relief agencies is the best way to contribute .
Dry gas stations and panicked motorists are sending gasoline prices higher after Hurricane Harvey. Gas could soar to $2.75 a gallon over Labor Day weekend. Flooding from Harvey has knocked out refining capacity, and many stations in Texas are running out of fuel.
Two of the leading price-forecasting analysts, GasBuddy’s Patrick DeHaan and Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service, now see the national average peaking as high as $2.75 a gallon in the next few days.
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