US President Donald Trump travels to Houston and Lake Charles, Louisiana on Saturday to meet victims of catastrophic storm Harvey, as residents of Houston and other cities were returning home to face the grim, possibly years-long task of rebuilding.
While Trump visits, attention will also be focused on Minute Maid Park, where baseball’s Houston Astros play their first home games since Harvey devastated the fourth-most populous US city. The Saturday doubleheader with the New York Mets is expected to be wrought with emotion and punctuated with moments to honor the dozens who died as a result of Harvey.
The storm, one of the costliest to hit the United States, has displaced more than 1 million people, with 50 feared dead from flooding that paralyzed Houston, swelled river levels to record highs and knocked out the drinking water supply in Beaumont, Texas, a city of 120,000 people.
Hurricane Harvey came ashore last Friday as the strongest storm to hit Texas in more than 50 years. Much of the damage took place in the Houston metropolitan area, which has an economy about the same size as Argentina’s.
Seventy percent of Harris County, which encompasses Houston, at one point was covered with 18 inches (45 cm) or more of water, county officials said.
One week after Harvey blasted into southeast Texas, rescuers were still searching by air and by boat for people trapped in flooded homes.
A fresh blaze broke out Friday evening at a chemical plant in Crosby, northeast of Houston, sending a giant plume of thick black smoke billowing into the sky.
And as floodwaters receded in Houston, nearby towns such as Beaumont and Port Arthur were struggling to get back on their feet.
“I ain’t never seen nothing like it in my 37 years,” said Tobias James, surveying the damage to his home in Port Arthur, including the two ruined cars in his flooded garage.
Just two days earlier, the oil and gas refinery worker was hoisted out of rising floodwaters by a rescue helicopter, along with his wife and children.
Harvey has been blamed for tens of billions of dollars of damage.