Transcript for After Hurricane Harvey, the long road to recovery begins
Reporter: A week after hurricane Harvey rode ashore in Texas the lone star state is on the long hard road to recovery. Some cities seven days later still underwater while others picking up the remnants from the battering winds. So many displaced. And tonight at a volatile chemical plant fires continue to explode. This is still an active, ongoing incident, and our focus really is dealing with the remaing six containers and the safety of the citizens in the area. Reporter: But in Orange, Texas signs of relief. We're with the army national Guard and one of the things we're seeing is that a lot of the people who needed help have already been rescued. But these guys aren't taking any chances. They are going through these neighborhoods to make sure everyone is safe. Reporter: These men are some of the 6,300 military personnel deployed to southeast Texas rescuing more than 1,200 people. About 40 miles west in the city of Beaumont rivers continue to rise. But there isn't a drop to drink. The water supply for this city of 120,000 is completely cut off. This flooding poses an ongoing threat to Beaumont and the surrounding area. And Beaumont is working aggressively at a fast pace to try to get the water system fixed. Reporter: Today residents lined up in their cars for miles, some waiting seven hours to get some drinking water. My colleague Matt Gutman was there. Have you seen how long this traffic jam is? Yes. Is it about two miles long? Maybe a little longer than that. We're doing our best. We're going to try to have trucks here as much as we can. Reporter: They're working around the clock to restart the pumps. But still it could take at least a week for the city to get clean water again. 100 miles down the road from Beaumont in west Houston there's a crowd gathered at the water's edge. Who needs to go to the paramount apartments? Okay, come on. Reporter: Days after this city flooded nonstop rescues still happening throughout the day. If you are living in a home today with water in your home, that situation is not going to change for the next 10 to 15 days. Reporter: City officials urging anyone in west Houston with water in their homes to get out now. Warning that releases from nearby reservoirs could keep as many as 20,000 homes flooded for the next two weeks. We cannot spend the next 14, 15, 16 days being a water taxi service when we still have so much to do. Reporter: Even though evacuees are scattered across the state, more people are crowded into Houston's convention center than any other shelter. Are you guys going to try to take that down? Reporter: Amid the rows of cots and blankets a splash of color and a sound some thought they wouldn't soon hear. Uh-oh. Reporter: A child's laughter. He had to try it for himself, right? Reporter: Relief organization save the children has set up this child-friendly space, a haven for the youngest whose lives are now upended. They've set up shop here in Houston and in San Antonio. At my house I have a big window like the size of one of these walls. And it -- the hurricane hit it and it broke. Reporter: They've got a staff trained in what they call psychological first aid, and the space is a bright and welcoming environment for parents to drop off their children for a few hours, time needed so they can begin to deal with this new reality. One of the most important things when you have kids go through that kind of trauma is to get to a place where they can just be a kid again. And that's what these child-friendly spaces are all about. Reporter: Anthony Friesen was at his apartment when the water started rising. But my car is over here across the street in the parking lot over there. It drowned. Reporter: He was rescued by a few good samaritans and is now here with his three children, happy to be alive but unsure of their future. They don't know it but they lost all their clothes. How do I help my son? How do I help my kids? How do I help them comprehend this situation? How do I he help them to understand the gravity of what's going on but also keep the stress off their minds? This will not be easy. This is a huge recovery effort. You're going to need all those people to help. And to help everybody get back to that time when kids can get back to school, when people can get back into some kind of housing. Reporter: In the week since Harvey struck it's left an almost incalculable toll. At least 39 deaths within blamed on the storm. More than 185,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed with more than 42,000 people currently in Texas shelters. Damage estimates for the region are in the tens of billions of dollars. The scope of the devastation evident in these before and after images. Just to show you how quickly this water has been receding here in Orange, Texas we're told these cars were almost entirely underwater just two days ago. It was just about up to here. And it was knee deep yesterday. Now you can see we can actually see the grass. The cars are out of the water. Reporter: But even though the rain has stopped, the challenges haven't. As displaced residents and rescue workers wade through still flooded streets, they face unseen dangers. Two volunteer rescuers reportedly died and two more are reportedly missing after they were possible will I electrocuted on Monday. These two reporters from dailymail.com who were with them managed to survive after a harrowing 18-hour ordeal. I looked up and we were about 20 feet away from these downed power lines. And the current was taking the boat into the downed power lines. Reporter: The occupants jumped off. The boat crashed into the power lines. A bug zapper. That's the best way to describe. Amplified probably 10 million times. Reporter: But they couldn't avoid electricity. I jumped off the boat, scared for my life and thinking we're going to go straight for these power lines. And yeah, the next thing I realize I'm being shocked in the water. I still don't know how I'm alive. Come on. Reporter: Another threat, unwanted visitors. Police and local wildlife experts removed this nine-foot alligator from a family's back yard. We do know there are a lot of large alligators in this area. Reporter: That's small potatoes compared to this 12-foot gator Texas game wardens had to move from a high traffic area. And he has been through a lot. Reporter: Other animal rescues, meanwhile, have been more tame. We've been very busy. We've taken in over 200 wild animals already. Reporter: At the wild animal center of Texas exotic animals like this frigate bird are being treated for injuries. This particular bird has a fracture. He may have to have surgery. We don't know yet. Reporter: Carrying crates of beloved pets to safety. Reporter: For many people hit by Harvey this has been the hardest week of their lives but for 7-year-old A.J. This marks a new beginning. ??? Happy birthday dear ??? Today is a.j.'s 7th birthday. Unfortunately, he has to be here. Reporter: A temporary home. Not the most ideal location, his dad admits. Take him to get his hair cut. Let him have a little fun on the outside. Just to get from around here. Reporter: But if anything is out of the ordinary don't tell A.J. What do you want for your birthday? Reporter: His story like so many others, he may not have a home or many possessions but he's alive. A gift worth celebrating. I believe that god will find a way to make good of this situation not only for us but for everybody else. Reporter: For "Nightline" I'm
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.