As the waters recede, Harvey recovery effort begins in Texas

ABC News' Martha Raddatz reports from Houston on the impact and aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, with Gov. Greg Abbott and Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.
11:04 | 09/03/17

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Transcript for As the waters recede, Harvey recovery effort begins in Texas
All week long, we have witnessed unbelievable scenes of devastation. Stories both heart breaking and uplifting. This street I'm on, it was a river just a few days ago. Now, the tide has turned. The water is indeed receding. We're here this morning because as anyone who has survived a flood can tell you, the end of the immediate crisis is just the start. So now, the real work begins. Harvey's swath of devastation is painfully clear from the air. Row after row of homes near Beaumont, Texas, still submerged. I flew along the Texas coast by helicopter with the 41st rescue squadron out of moody air force base in Georgia. A crew of young, but seasoned combat veterans now saving lyes at home in the U.S., with a sense of such irnl si and purpose, we refueled midair so the crew could have maximum time to search for anyone in need of help. Pretty incredible. These airmen have been conducting rescued all week. Plucking Texans from their homes and taking them to dry ground. You were showing me pictures of people, pet use had rescued. Tell me from you heart hat this has been like? It goes without words. It's so rewarding. Period. Just the look on people's faces when they see you, that you're there to get them out of the situation they're in. Being able to bring them to a better place. I'll do it all day every day if I could. Luckily, we don't have to. Reporter: Even those neighborhoods where the waters have receded have a long Rd to recover recovery. Where we're flying over has dried out. Days ago, it was submerged. The people in the neighborhoods are devastated in such unexpected ways. We picked up Nicole kraichs, a paramedic who has been aiding Harvey victims all week. She got word her own father was in critical condition from heart failure. Are we dropping her off or picking him up? We're dropping her off at the hospital. It's on our way home. It was a good opportunity to help out. Reporter: Unraefable by ground, our helicopter delivered her to her father's bedside. Where he's now recovering. We're complete with our patient transfer. Reporter: It was in the midst of this transition from rescue to recovery that president trump made hiding second visit to Texas. This time, meeting with some of the many families displaced by Harvey. Now with a sprawling relief center at Houston's nrg stadium. The president and first lady helping to hand out meals. President trump posing for a few selfies and talking in dploeing terms at the relief effort. It's been really nice. It's been a wonderful thing. It's -- as tough as this was, it's been a wonderful thing. I think even for the country to watch or for the world to watch. It's been beautiful. Reporter: Congressman Michael Mccaul from Texas us with president trump. Zmi saw Katrina. Rita. Sandy. Think this is the best emergency response deployment that I have seen. I think Texas, we have weathered these storms in the past. We have a great state operation that can get things done. Reporter: At the president's side throughout his visit, Texas governor Greg Abbott. The cameras are blazing. I have to say, you have a great, great governor. And -- he's done a fantastic job. Reporter: We met up with governor Abbott just after the president's departure. We just watched air force one taking off. You were there the moment he arrived. There with him all day. You were there when he left. Give us a sense of the kinds of questions he was asking. He asked me repeatedly today, governor, what do you need? What can I do to help you? From top to bottom. The federal development has worked seamlessly with the state and our local governments. The results have led to more lives being saved. A quicker response. A more effective response to the stage. But we have a lot more work to do. What is your -- greatest concern going forward? I'm still working on rescue missions over in Beaumont and down the brazos river. We're in operational mode. We're working to save every life. What we can see as we travel the streets today, they're pulling out carpets. They're pulling out sheet rock. Texans have gone to work to begin the rebuilding process. How long do you think this recovery will take? Maybe two or three years, but because it's Texas, six months, said the president. Is that possible? We know Texans will respond robustly. That said, when you consider the hundreds of thousands of homes destroyed and impacted, we need to understand this is going to take a long time. Houston was built on a basically, a flood plain. I read so many stories about there's no drainage. What should be done about that? Should people just be allowed to come back, developers, let's build those homes again? It would be insane for us to rebuild on property that has been flooded multiple time. Think everybody probably is in agreement that there are better strategies that we must employ. What can we expect in the coming days here, governor? As the helicopters fly away. And as the TV cameras leave town, that's when the hard work really begins. But, the truth is, we have local leaders, all the way from Beaumont that has a terrific mayor, to Houston, to corpus Christi. We're all going to be working very collaboratively to recover as quick as possible. Texans have grit. They will respond with speed. And with fellowship. Reporter: One of those local leaders on the front lines, Houston police chief art Acevedo. Come on, now. Look at you. Reporter: Who we met with. Our biggest challenge right now is trying to get people back in their homes. Reporter: The hardest moment for him this week, when a vet eer ran of Houston's police force, sergeant Steve Perez died in the floodwater. What moment is going the stay with you forever? Um -- the look at my divers' faces when we were wanting to recover one of our own. He was in heavy water. And the pain in their eyes when they knew that what I told them. We can't risk another life. But you know what? Made up for that the next day. When I told Steve's wife, if Steve knew this was his last day on Earth, how would he have wanted to go? Here with you? Or answering the bell? And she said, chief, the last thing he said to me is, we've got work to do. That's exactly where he wanted to be. Reporter: The chief's work to help evacuees may be hit can a new challenge. President trump set to announce his decision this week whether to end the DACA program, which allows undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children to stay under work permits. So many homes have been damaged. Some beyond repair in our state. And then you add on top of that the issues with Tim grags debate and the ugliness of that, I was mentioning to somebody yesterday, a state official, that was pushing the anti-immigration ugly narrative. I asked him, now what are you going to tell the American people? When we have scared away so many hard-working people? Reporter: Houston has one of the highest populations of so-called dreerms in the country. We met one of them. 15-year-old Yasmine. As her family returned to their flooded out Houston home, which they just recently paid off. It's a lot of work. All the -- our house is just crumbling down like that. Sad. Reporter: Her family came to the U.S. When she was 5. She just applied for DACA status. Now the stress of both Harvey and the president's looming decision is taking its toll on her dream of becoming a surgeon. My biggest fear is for us to get deported. For my family, all the hard work that they have done. To just be thrown away. And do back to how we were. And for me, to not be able to study. Not be able to -- work. It's a lot. I have to worry about going back to school. So it's kind of stressful. Reporter: I asked governor Abbott about Yasmin. She said she doesn't know what she's more nervous about is flood or being deported. When should she stop being nervous? Well, that obviously would depend on so many factors that are hard to predict right now. What is what the president would do. One is what congress would do. Until congress, until the united States, truly reforms our immigration system with standards that everybody knows and understands, that are enforced and applied, we'll continue to deal with these very challenging circumstances. Reporter: What would you say to that 15-year-old? The best place to get into is the United States of America. We need to make sure we keep America that shining city on the hill that people aspire to. It's not with someone like her here? It's going to be a standard that ensures that America will be the place that people aspire to. And there will be ways if congress reforms the immigration system, there will be ways in which America needs to continue to attract immigration through the legal system. Reporter: The experience of Harvey has been a profound moment in a thank you mul umultuous year. Showing the positives and the rancor. You can see that in the faces of families like the medranos. And in the uncertainty about Houston's future and the hard questions facing this country. Will the spirit that got this city through the crisis last in the aftermath? Was Harvey a genuine watershed moment or will the underlying tensions tearing America apart rise again. As the waters recede. All right! Reporter: President trump did, indeed, face intense scrutiny this week. Responding to the first natural disaster of his presidency.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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