The death toll in the catastrophic hurricane Harvey that lashed through the US state of Texas has increased to 46, the media reported.
Meanwhile, Houston and other areas hit by record flooding are starting to enter the recovery phase. “This is going to be a massive, massive cleanup process,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott told the ABC network on Friday, Efe news reported.
“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.”
Based on local media reports, one of the cities most affected by the catastrophic flooding is Beaumont, Texas, a town of nearly 120,000 inhabitants near the Louisiana border where the situation is especially worrying due to a lack of potable water there over the past few days.
“As soon as water recedes we will assess and begin making necessary repairs,” the Beaumont police department said Thursday on Twitter.
Red Cross spokeswoman Suzy DeFrancis, for her part, told CNN on Friday that around 42,000 people were housed overnight at Red Cross and partner shelters in Texas
She added that the organization probably would have to continue its emergency work until at least late November.
Meanwhile, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Friday that the city was starting to enter a recovery phase.
“There are still many rescues in the region, but with regards to the city of Houston, we are starting to move into the recovery phase with the number of rescues being dramatically down,” he told CNN.
The mayor also said Houston’s electrical grid was slowly recovering and that fewer than 35,000 homes were without power at the moment.
Garbage collection and mass transit service in the city also have resumed.
But the recovery effort is just beginning in the hardest-hit areas, with the White House estimating that 100,000 homes have been damaged and state authorities putting the number at 185,000.
The total cost of recovery and rebuilding could be as high as $190 billion, which would make Harvey the costliest natural disaster in US history.
The system, which first made landfall last Friday in southern Texas as the strongest hurricane to hit the US in 13 years and then made a second landfall as a tropical storm in Louisiana early Wednesday, also brought torrential rains and severe flooding to that neighboring state.
US President Donald Trump plans to ask Congress for emergency funding for Harvey relief efforts, money that could be approved when lawmakers return from their summer recess next week.