Trump heading to Texas amid warning of further flooding

President pledges ‘rapid action’ from Congress over ‘catastrophic’ damage in Houston

At least five deaths and more than a dozen injuries have been reported in the aftermath of Harvey, the tropical storm that pounded the Gulf Coast of Texas over the weekend. Video: REUTERS

 

US president Donald Trump will fly to southern Texas today as officials warned that “catastrophic flooding” will persist in the Houston region in the coming days, and thousands of residents remained stranded in the city. Torrential rain continued late on Monday and at least eight people were reported to have died, including four children and their elderly great-grandparents who were trapped in a van as they tried to flee the floods.

Speaking in Washington as he prepared to visit the flood zone, Mr Trump pledged “rapid action” from Congress, as he promised funding for the victims of Tropical Storm Harvey.

“Protecting the lives of our people is my highest priority” he said at a press conference in the White House, adding that “tragic times such as these bring out the best in American character, charity, strength and resilience.”

“To the people of Texas and Louisiana, we are 100 per cent with you,” he said. With Tropical Storm Harvey gravitating east towards Louisiana, Mr Trump also indicated that he may visit the state at the weekend.

Fallout

As Mr Trump faced the first natural disaster of his presidency, in Houston, authorities struggled to cope with the fallout from the storm which hit the Texan coast late on Friday.

More than 1,200 people have been rescued from their homes, many by air, while authorities estimated that more than 30,000 people will be left temporarily homeless by the biggest natural disaster to hit the US since Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago. About 3,000 guard troops were also deployed to the area as the downpour continued late into Monday.

While Hurricane Harvey was downgraded from a category four hurricane to a category one tropical storm on Friday, heavy rain is expected to continue with flooding expected to peak on Wednesday and Thursday according to the director of the National Weather Service.

In scenes reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina which hit southern Louisiana in 2005, more than 2,500 people had flocked to the George Brown Convention Centre in Houston on Monday for shelter.

Elaine Duke, acting homeland security secretary, warned that the region was “not out of the woods” saying that “life-threatening flooding” would occur over a large proportion of south central and south east Texas in the coming days. “While hurricane force winds have diminished I want to stress that we are not out of the woods yet, not by a long shot.

“Harvey is still a dangerous and historic storm,” she said at a press conference on Monday. The US Army Corps of Engineers released water from two reservoirs in the area in a bid to control the torrents, despite the risk of flooding nearby properties.

The torrential rain and flooding has also impacted the region’s oil and energy industry, with a number of refineries and chemical plants, including some owned by Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, shutting down some operations and plants. About 430,000 barrels per day of oil production in the region has now been stopped, with fuel prices expected to increase across the country in the coming days and weeks.