- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 31, 2017

The White House said Thursday it’s preparing to submit a multibillion-dollar request to Congress soon for emergency aid for hurricane recovery efforts for Texas and Louisiana.

Presidential homeland security adviser Tom Bossert didn’t specify how much money the White House is seeking, but said the request will be “very responsible.”

“We’re going to need to go up and ask for a disaster supplemental shortly,” Mr. Bossert said. “It looks like about 100,000 affected homes. That’s a big number — some underinsured, some uninsured.”

The federal government’s disaster relief fund had about $3.6 billion before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, and he said relief efforts are quickly burning through that money.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has said the aid required could exceed $100 billion, and Mr. Bossert didn’t dispute that estimate.

“There’s nobody that’s wrong with estimates right now,” he said, cautioning that the administration will probably make at least two requests for emergency funding.

With hundreds of thousands of people flooded out of their homes, concerns are rising that displaced residents could face unreasonably high housing costs from unscrupulous landlords and other exorbitant prices for scarce goods. Mr. Bossert said the administration is monitoring the situation.

“Gouging will not be tolerated,” he said. “[Attorney General] Jeff Sessions and the president of the United States will not tolerate gouging. Anybody who is going to go out and take advantage of a storm victim ought to expect law enforcement to come down on them with a hammer. That’s not acceptable on a regular day. It’s certainly not acceptable when people are suffering.”

The administration expects about 7,000 hospital patients to be transferred out of the flood zone to safer facilities by the time those rescue operations are completed.

Mr. Bossert cautioned that more loss of life will probably occur during recovery operations due to accidents, heart attacks and other tragedies.

“In the immediate response and recovery phase, people will use chain saws, people will remove debris, people will be stressed,” he said. “Try to avoid strain and stress. Try to get to where there’s food, water and shelter. And take care of yourself so that you can then take care of others.”

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