The city of Houston is transitioning from rescue to recovery following Hurricane Harvey, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Friday, and while there are some still dealing with flooding, "most of the city is now dry" and efforts are turning to cleanup, so FEMA's help is needed immediately.
"We are going door-to-door," the mayor told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, "especially in low-income areas to make sure we have not missed anyone."
As people return to their homes, they are starting to remove water-damaged items, so the city also started a heavy debris removal effort two days ago, Turner said.
"We will ramp up aggressively, and we need FEMA's assistance now, agents on the ground, to assist people in that transitioning process," the mayor said. "We need advanced funding now in order to assist in debris removal and housing assistance."
That means actual funding, not a reimbursement system, Turner said, for transitional housing.
"People can't stay in shelters forever," Turner said. "There are a number of people for example, who may not be homeowners, but may be renters, and they need assistance as well. They need that now. There are people with family, with children, they need assistance.'
The debris removal for the city of Houston alone will cost around $200 million, the mayor said, and that is an immediate necessity, as it will become a public health hazard if the flood-soaked items are not removed.
He said he is requesting $75 million from FEMA for cleanup costs alone.
Turner, also appearing on "CBS This Morning," told that program that there is always room for improvement following an emergency, and officials will assess what could have been done better.
"The city certainly does need more assets, high water vehicles, high water trucks, high water boats, first responders need more equipment," he told CBS. "In a storm like this, when some of your roads are cut off and your airports may not be functioning at that point in time, it makes it much more difficult to get to people as soon as you would like to."
He does have faith that his city will bounce back and will be stronger than ever.
"You come back and visit the city of Houston a year from now, and this city of Houston, will be a shining star of how a city recovers when it has been hit with this degree of enormity," the mayor told CBS. "There is no doubt in my mind that the city that I know, where I was born and reared, this city that I know, this city will bounce back like never before."
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