Officials respond to Hurricane Harvey
First major emergency management test of Trump's administration
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – While President Donald Trump was monitoring Hurricane Harvey from Camp David, officials from federal, state and local agencies were waiting to assess the damage of the Category 2 storm.
No deaths were immediately confirmed in the hours after Harvey’s arrival, but officials noted emergency crews couldn’t get out in many places due to high winds. Melissa Munguia, deputy emergency management coordinator in Nueces County, which includes Corpus Christi, said early Saturday that it could be hours before crews could fully assess the damage in coastal communities.
Rockport City Manager Kevin Carruth told local media outlets that multiple people had been taken to the county’s jail for assessment and treatment after the roof of a senior housing complex collapsed. KIII-TV reported that 10 people were treated there.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warned that the monster system would be "a very major disaster," and the predictions drew fearful comparisons to Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest ever to strike the U.S.
The storm posed the first major emergency management test of Trump’s administration. The White House said Trump was planning to travel to Texas early next week to view recovery efforts. He signed a federal disaster declaration for six coastal counties Friday night.
Trump’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, Tom Bossert, said the administration was "bringing together the firepower of the federal government to assist the state and local governments, but the state and local governments are in the lead here."
Federal health officials called in more than 400 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals from around the nation and planned to move two 250-bed medical units to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Other federal medical units are available in Dallas.
Without a clear forecast, there was confusion in Houston. Just hours before the projected landfall, the governor and Houston leaders issued conflicting statements on evacuation.
After Abbott urged more people to flee, Houston authorities told people to remain in their homes and recommended no widespread evacuations.
In a Friday press conference that addressed Houston officials’ decision to not have a voluntary or mandatory evacuation, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said there might be a “greater danger” in having people who don’t need to be evacuated on roads that could flood.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said that because the hurricane was not taking direct aim at Houston, the city’s primary concern was heavy flooding.
"We are not having a hurricane," said Emmett, the top elected official for the county, which encompasses Houston. "We are having a rain event."
The heavy rain from Harvey threatened to turn many communities into "essentially islands" and leave them isolated for days, said Melissa Munguia, deputy emergency management coordinator for Nueces County.
Miami Fire Rescue and other agencies nationwide were gearing up to assist Texas.
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