Houston Officials Lay Out Plans to Transition from Rescue to Recovery Phase

Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Harvey.
Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Harvey. Photo by Jack Gorman
As the flood waters have continued to recede and the sunglasses have finally become necessary again, Houston is now transitioning away from the rescue stage of Tropical Storm Harvey and toward recovery.

So what does this mean?

For first responders, it means they will begin a block by block, door to door thorough search and examinatinon of some of the most hard-hit areas, such as Kingwood and Meyerland, to make sure nobody has been left behind, said Houston Fire Department Executive Assistant Chief Richard Mann during Mayor Turner's now nightly press conference . While Houston Police Department Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite said calls for high-water rescues are still coming in, they are on the downward trend: Today, HPD rescued 40 people (compared to hundreds, with more than 2,000 calls, Saturday night).

All HPD officers are still working around the clock, without breaks. "We have not let them go home," Satterwhite When they needed downtime, we sent them to a cot or a couch. Every time the public reaches out and shows that personal support to officers on the street, that’s why we do it. So thank you."

Power outages have also gone down, from about 100,000 to 75,000, according to Centerpoint. About 32,000 are in areas that Centerpoint workers simply can't get to due to high water.

For residents, the transition period to recovery means, among many things, you will now be able to access public transportation (albeit limited service; see more here) by Thursday; trash pickup will resume as normal by next week and 14 crews have already started going around picking up debris on the curb; and, well, the fun begins with filing insurance claims.

But perhaps most importantly, for those who lost their homes, who are now residents at shelters across Houston, the transition to recovery means wondering how quickly or not so quickly they will receive a temporary housing voucher so they can get their lives back on track. This will depend on the federal government's sense of urgency, as Houston's is certainly not lacking.

Turner said he spoke with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson Wednesday and that Carson indicated Turner had HUD's full support.

"What I am stressing on FEMA and on the secretary is that the quicker we can process these requests and get something in people's hands that they can use to go to the next step, then the quicker we can transition them out of the shelters and back to their important lives. We have to operate with a sense of urgency. We have to put ourselves in the shoes of homeowners who have been displaced, of people who are in shelters, and we have to ask, what would we want to see happen if we were in that situation?

Turner reminded Houstonians that the curfew is still in effect tonight from midnight to 5 a.m. Tuesday night, HPD made no arrests and said everyone largely cooperated.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Meagan Flynn is a staff writer at the Houston Press who, despite covering criminal justice and other political squabbles in Harris County, drinks only one small cup of coffee per day.
Contact: Meagan Flynn