Parts of Texas still face 'ongoing threat' of flooding, governor says

The Neches and Brazos Rivers are cresting at all-time highs, the governor says.

ByABC News
September 1, 2017, 10:17 PM

— -- The threat from Hurricane Harvey is still not over, as rivers in parts of Texas crest at all-time highs, Gov. Greg Abbott said in a press conference Friday afternoon.

Although the storm has moved east, areas such as Beaumont remain "deadly" and "dangerous," Abbott said.

The Neches River near Beaumont continues to rise and is currently about 7 feet above the all-time record, Abbott said. The river's levels will continue to remain at or near that high for about the next week, the governor said.

"This flood poses an ongoing threat" to Beaumont and its surrounding areas, Abbott said.

Weather concerns still remain in areas near the south end of the Brazos River, southwest of Houston, Abbott said.

The Brazos River will crest at an all-time high near Richmond, which will cause flooding in areas that have not yet experienced it, the governor said.

"You need to understand the possibility that you could be affected by floodwaters in the coming days," Abbott said. "You need to remain vigilant...."

Crisis far from over

The crisis from Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath is far from over in Texas, the governor told ABC News Friday morning.

While the Houston area is drying out, revealing the extent of the damage, other Texas cities are still under water.

"As the waters recede in Houston, of course they're still rising over in Beaumont," Abbott said in an interview today with "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts. "So we are having to, first of all, deal with the aftermath of the receding waters in Houston, while also deal with the emergency of rescuing people in the Beaumont, Texas, area."

Gov. Abbott told ABC News the geographic scope and scale of the disaster from Harvey in Texas will be "far larger" than Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and its aftermath.

"This is going to be a massive, massive cleanup process," Abbott said on "GMA" today. "People need to understand this is not going to be a short-term project. This is going to be a multi-year project for Texas to be able to dig out of this catastrophe."

    Hundreds of thousands without water in Beaumont

    Officials in Beaumont, some 100 miles east of Houston, announced Thursday that Harvey's floodwaters had disabled both the primary and secondary sources for the city's water supply, leaving 120,000 residents without water.

    The city is "working aggressively" to get the water system fixed, Abbott said. Incorporating pumps will be the "most expeditious route" to getting the water system back up, he said.

    About 1,000 people were evacuated from the Beaumont area overnight, and those numbers are expected to rise, Abbott said. Many of the evacuees went to Dallas and San Antonio.

    White House requests $7.85 billion

    The White House formally submitted a letter to Congressional leadership Friday night requesting $7.85 billion in supplemental funds for the Hurricane Harvey response.

    The letter requests $7.4 billion in disaster relief funds and $450 million in Small Business Administration Disaster Loan funds.

    In the letter, Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney further urges Congress to act expeditiously to raise the debt ceiling by the end of September, so as not to endanger the distribution of requested funds.

    House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's office says the House will vote on Harvey funding next week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnell also put out a statement saying the upper chamber will move expeditiously.

    FEMA aims to move evacuees out of shelters and into temporary homes

    Harris County officials estimate some 30,000 to 40,000 homes have been destroyed in the Houston area alone.

    In Texas, 258 shelters are currently open. Of those, 107 shelters are either partnered with or collaborated with the state in some fashion, Abbott said. The remaining 151 shelters are run by independent organizations such as churches, he said.

    As of Friday, 42,399 people were in shelters across the state. Louisiana is also housing about 3,000 Texans in shelters, Abbott said, calling the neighboring state a "great friend."

    FEMA is being "very proactive" in the process of moving evacuees out of shelters to more semi-permanents like hotels, where those affected by the storm can have their own bedroom, living room and bathroom, Abbott said.

    PHOTO: Horses stand in deep floodwaters in the north end of Beaumont, Texas, Aug. 31, 2017. Beaumont firefighters led them to dry land.
    Horses stand in deep floodwaters in the north end of Beaumont, Texas, Aug. 31, 2017. Beaumont firefighters led them to dry land.
    Ryan Pelham/The Beaumont Enterprise via AP

    The Texas Division of Emergency Management so far estimates a total of 185,149 homes in the Lone Star State have been damaged or destroyed by Harvey. And about 80 percent of Texans don't have flood insurance.

    About 440,000 Texans have registered for assistance from FEMA, which has approved more than $70 million in assistance so far, Abbott said.

    Texas has 'plenty of gas,' governor says

    Abbott said the state is working with "all sectors from the oil and gas community" to field "any concern about accessibility to fuel."

    "There's plenty of gasoline in the state of Texas," Abbott said. "All that said, we are ensuring an even greater supply of gasoline."

    Texas is working with Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico to ensure ample supplies, Abbott said. A pipeline that usually flows from Texas to Oklahoma has been reversed, and trucks from other states will be driving to Texas, he said.

    In addition, the Port of Corpus Christi is expecting shipments of gas today and in the coming days, and the oil refineries in Corpus Christi and Three Rivers will "quickly be providing a much greater supply of gasoline," Abbott said.

    The wrath of Harvey moves east

    Since making initial landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in southeastern Texas last Friday, Harvey has dumped a total of 20 trillion gallons of rain on the Houston area.

    Harvey's remnants are expected to bring heavy rain to the Tennessee Valley and the Ohio Valley, according to the National Weather Service. Flash flood watches are in effect from Tennessee to southern Ohio.

    The rain will continue to move north and become lighter and more scattered into Saturday. Some of the heavy rain will move into the northeast late Saturday into Sunday.

    A tornado watch has been issued for parts of North and South Carolina, including Raleigh and Charlotte.

    On Thursday, the remnants of the storm brought nine reported tornadoes to Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. The worst damage occurred in Louisiana, and the NWS Birmingham is surveying the area now.

    Harvey made a third landfall just west of Cameron, Louisiana, as a tropical storm on Wednesday morning. The storm weakened to a tropical depression that night and became a low-pressure system by Thursday.

    At least 39 people have died as a result of the storm's wrath, according to The Associated Press.

    PHOTO: Gillis Leho looks for documents in her car that was covered by floodwaters after Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, Aug. 30, 2017.
    Gillis Leho looks for documents in her car that was covered by floodwaters after Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, Texas, Aug. 30, 2017.
    LM Otero/AP

    Relief and rescue efforts continue

    On Thursday night, more than 600 pallets of water and 400 pallets of meals were delivered to hurricane victims in Texas, Abbott said, stressing the importance of ensuring "an ongoing supply of food and water."

    Supplies are being distributed in communities from Corpus Christi to Beaumont, Abbott said.

    The governor advised affected residents to contact county officials to find out the location of points of distribution.

    Michael and Susan Dell pledge $36 million to relief effort

    Two native Texans, Michael and Susan Dell, announced today they are committing $36 million to launch the Rebuild Texas Fund with the goal of raising over $100 million for long-term recovery efforts in the state.

    “This is going to be a major effort to rebuild Texas,” Michael Dell, the CEO of Dell Technologies, said in an interview today on “GMA.” He described what it has been like to watch the streets of his Houston childhood neighborhood remain inundated by Harvey.

    The Dells, through their Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, plan to donate $18 million immediately to launch the fund.

    PHOTO: Residential neighborhoods near the Interstate 10 sit in floodwater in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Aug. 29, 2017.
    Residential neighborhoods near the Interstate 10 sit in floodwater in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Aug. 29, 2017.
    Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Polaris

    Over the Labor Day weekend, the Dells will donate $1 of their own money for every $2 donated. Donors can text 91999 with the words “RebuildTX” over the next four days.

    “It’s going to take everyone to help get through this and what we want to do is hopefully, over this holiday weekend, is inspire everyone to give as much as they can,” Susan Dell said. “We just want to do everything that we can to help all those people that are suffering from these storms.”

    The Dells’ Rebuild Texas Fund will work in parallel with recovery efforts in Texas led by Abbott through his One Star Foundation.

    “These are such great Texans and a storm that has been as large as Texas requires a response as big as Texas,” Abbott said on “GMA" today. “We need their support as well as the support of people across the world.”

    ABC News' Katie Kindelan contributed to this report.

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