- The Washington Times - Monday, August 28, 2017

President Trump is expected to arrive Tuesday in Texas to survey damage wreaked by Hurricane Harvey on the Gulf Coast, where federal and state agencies are still helping rescue people from flooded homes and provide shelter for evacuees.

William “Brock” Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Monday at a press conference that he expects 30,000 people will need to be placed in shelters and 450,000 will need disaster assistance.

“This is a landmark event for Texas,” Mr. Long said, as reported by Weather.com. “Texas has never seen an event like this.”

Mr. Trump declared a state of national emergency for Southeast Texas on Monday morning. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Sunday declared a public health emergency in the affected areas.

Authorities said at least eight people have died due to Harvey, which hit Texas on Friday as a Category 4 hurricane and has been downgraded to a tropical storm. It has hovered over the Houston area, deluging the region, and is expected to drop a total of about 50 inches of rain this week.

More than 2,000 people have required emergency evacuation from flooded homes. That figure is expected to rise: 911 emergency services processed at least 75,000 calls Saturday to Monday, compared to 16,000 to 8,000 calls in a normal 24-hour period, The Associated Press reported.

The Texas National Guard was enlisted to help those trapped with flooding, consisting of 12,000 service members. Throughout Sunday and Monday other Texans brought their own boats to assist in rescue efforts.

The Red Cross likewise said it had enough food and shelter supplies for 28,000 people and were planning on delivery supplies for 22,000 more people.

Hospitals in smaller towns and cities along the Texas coast were forced to evacuate patients and close. Houston’s Texas Medical Center was able to remain open, but was inaccessible at times for patients due to flooding, which created a moat around the massive medical complex.

“We’ve been isolated, we have a moat around us, it’s flooded to get into our hospital,” said Dr. Mary L. Brandt, a pediatric surgeon at the Texas Children’s Hospital, which is part of the complex.

Dr. Brandt has been at the hospital since Saturday morning, joined by a full emergency staff, part of the hospital’s emergency preparedness plan. In addition to a full staff of doctors and nurses, mid-level providers, kitchen staff, cleaning crews among others have stayed at the hospital since Saturday.

Dr. Brandt said they’ve performed at least 16 surgeries over the weekend on patients already in the hospital and those arriving through the emergency room.

“This is far worse than Allison,” Dr. Brandt said, referring to the 2001 tropical storm.

“We’ve been through this before,” she said, “We really truly have wonderful people that helped plan to make sure hospitals had generators, adequate food and personnel. We’re really doing well.”

Meanwhile, heavy rain from Harvey lashed southwest Louisiana on Monday, ratcheting up flooding fears as the state’s governor warned of a “dangerous situation” looming.

Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters he expects the threat to rise as outer rain bands sweep into Louisiana: “This is going to play out over several days.”

While Louisiana doesn’t appear to be facing a threat on par with Harvey’s catastrophic toll in Texas, images of flood devastation in Houston revived painful memories for survivors of Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said a recently repaired pump failed Monday during Harvey’s heavy rains. Mr. Landrieu added that most pumps were working, and the city is continuing with efforts to improve the pumping system.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said floodwaters had damaged fewer than a dozen homes in that southwest Louisiana city as of Monday afternoon, but the number is likely to rise in coming days.

Dave Boyer contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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