Donald Trump asks congress for $5.9bn to help Hurricane Harvey victims

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President Donald Trump will ask US Congress for $5.9 billion (£4.56bn) in emergency aid to help the devastated victims of Hurricane Harvey.

But the figure falls way short of the $125 billion (£97bn) that Texas Governor Greg Abbott insists the storm-ravaged state needs to get back on its feet.

In spite of the shortfall – that could lead to serious delays in repairing the swathe of destruction the hurricane and subsequent floods caused in Texas and Louisiana – Vice President Mike Pence told victims yesterday: “The American people are with you.”

“We will be here every day until this city and this state and this region rebuild bigger and better than ever before,” he added during a trip to Texas on Thursday.

A man wades through flood waters in Texas (REUTERS)

The vice president said 311,000 people had already registered for disaster assistance, and that he hoped for bipartisan support in Congress for the funding request.

Mr Trump, who has been roundly criticised for failing to meet up with victims in Houston on a visit to the region on Wednesday, has meanwhile donated $1 million (£770,000) of his own money to the relief effort.

While the president visited the waterlogged state, he limited his visit to Corpus Christi, which avoided the worst of the flooding. Aides said Mr Trump feared his presence could divert resources from rescue efforts. He is expected to return to Texas with wife, Melania, on Saturday.

A deluge by the Houston rivers (Polaris / eyevine)

‘He’ll pledge, proudly, $1 million of his own personal money to help the people of Texas and Louisiana,’ said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

The White House did not say whether the money would come from Mr Trump or his foundation. 

Following the announcement, the president tweeted a photo of emergency workers who were first to the scene and who were gathered in a multi-faith prayer circle.

Motorists battle through the floods (AFP/Getty Images)

More than 90,000 people have already been approved for disaster assistance payments in the aftermath of the tropical storm that claimed at least 38 lives.

Firefighters yesterday began a grim two week operation going house-to-house to search for survivors and bodies. Officials said most of the flooding was expected to recede by the end of the weekend after Harvey dumped more than 19 trillion gallons of water on the region.

More than 100,000 homes were destroyed and many areas were still without power this morning.

Fifteen police officers were taken to hospital for treatment after being exposed to the toxic substances released following two explosions at the Arkema chemical plant in Harris County, Houston.

The fire was put out but officials are monitoring the site for more blazes. The blasts were caused when power was cut for the refrigeration of powerful chemicals that became incendiary with a rise in temperature. 

“We all know one thing, and it’s that there is no storm as tough as the people of Texas. We will rise again and we will rebuild this great town and the affected areas across the entire state of Texas,” said Texas Governor Mr Abbott.

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