The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday said the government needs citizens to get involved where they can and give money to assist recovery efforts in Texas amid “catastrophic” flooding expected to last for days in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
“Helping Texas overcome this disaster overcome this disaster is going to be far greater than FEMA coordinating the mission [of] the entire federal government,” FEMA administrator Brock Long said at a news conference. “We need citizens to be involved.”
“This is a landmark event. We have not seen an event like this,” he said. “You could not draw this forecast up. You could not dream this forecast up.”
“This is a whole community effort from all levels of government, and it’s going to require the citizens getting involved,” he said.
He said people can go to nvaod.org if they want to give money, and urged the public in affected areas to stop driving into flooded areas to try to make things less dangerous for recovery teams.
Vice Adm. Karl Schultz with the U.S. Coast Guard said that people with boats who have some experience are “absolutely encouraged” to get out there and assist others.
“Texans helping Texans is a great thing,” Vice Adm. Schultz said on “CBS This Morning.” “We do encourage folks to do that. Be smart. Make sure they’re experienced.”
Mr. Long also said they’re anticipating some 30,000 people to be placed in shelters temporarily and that there will be potentially more than 450,000 individual disaster victims.
He said people looking for relief can go to disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA.
“We are not out of this by a long shot,” said U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Paul Zukunft.
National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini said the Houston area was seeing a “lull” but that moderate to heavy rains were expected to return later Monday and into at least Tuesday.
“We are seeing catastrophic flooding, and this will likely expand and will likely persist as it’s slow to recede,” Mr. Uccellini said.
On Monday, officials had released water from area reservoirs in an effort to protect Houston’s downtown area, in a move that could nevertheless produce additional street flooding in a region already hammered by heavy rain from the lingering storm.
Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on Friday, and heavy rains have continued to pummel the area, stranding many area residents in their homes as some awaited rescue via helicopter or by boat.
President Trump has been actively monitoring the situation, and the White House said the president plans to travel to Texas sometime on Tuesday.
- The Associated Press contributed to this report.