The city of Houston will finally get some relief from historic rain Wednesday as Tropical Storm Harvey pulls away from east Texas and makes another landfall in neighboring Louisiana.
Forecasters expected the Houston area to get about two centimeters of new rainfall Wednesday and to have sunny skies and hot temperatures by Friday. The region will still be dealing with widespread flooding from the slow-moving storm that has dropped more than 130 centimeters (51 inches) in some places since Thursday.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm could drop 15 to 30 centimeters (6 to 12 inches) of rain on southwestern Louisiana as it finally moves inland.
Local and state officials in Texas said rescuers had taken more than 13,000 people from flooded homes, and thousands of people were staying in shelters set up at Houston’s convention center, the arena for the Houston Rockets basketball team and the stadium where the Houston Texans football team plays.
Mayor praises his city
With so many people away from their homes and scattered reports of looting, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner instituted an overnight curfew starting Wednesday morning in order to prevent “potential criminal acts.”
Turner praised Houston as a city where neighbors look out for each other and come together to face their shared challenge.
“Anyone who underestimates the spirit of this city does not know Houston. ‘Woe is Houston?’ That just encourages us further,” he wrote on Twitter.
At least 13 deaths have been reported in connection with the storm. Authorities have not yet confirmed a number that high, but have said casualty figures could rise once the floodwaters begin to recede.
Housing issues are next
Elaine Duke, the acting head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said during a visit to Texas on Tuesday that the biggest challenge remains search and rescue efforts.
“We will continue looking, and until the waters are gone, I really don’t think we’ll be completed with making sure we’ve accounted for everyone,” Duke said.
She added that once the rain does stop, officials will then be focused on making sure people who cannot return to their homes can move from the temporary shelters into transitional housing.
Duke was one of several officials who flew to Texas along with President Donald Trump to meet with local and state leaders and survey the response to the storm.
Trump said the recovery effort, which has been estimated at tens of billions of dollars, will probably be one of the most expensive the United States has seen.
Trump wants ‘right solution’
Visiting an emergency operations center in the Texas capital, Austin, Trump said his administration and Congress are going to come up with the “right solution” to help storm victims.
Trump also went to Corpus Christi, where the storm hit the Texas coast, and said there he wants the federal government’s response to be “better than ever before.”
The president waved a Texas state flag as he spoke to cheering supporters, calling the storm “epic.” He added, “… but it happened in Texas, and Texas can handle anything.”
Trump did not visit Houston or the other areas hardest-hit by the storm in order to not disrupt the emergency response. But press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters the president will return to Texas on Saturday in order to visit areas he did not see Tuesday and to meet with some of those who evacuated their homes.
Sanders said the trip could also include a stop in Louisiana as well, depending on the conditions there.
Difficult times lie ahead
Harvey is expected to die out as a low pressure system over the U.S. east coast by the end of the week.
But the worst may not be over for storm survivors. Bock Long, chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said difficult times lie ahead even after the rain stops.
“This recovery is going to be frustrating,” Long said in a message of assurance to Texas residents, adding, “We’re going to be here with you.”