About 16,000 Texans are still displaced and living in hotels and other temporary housing because of Hurricane Harvey, federal officials said Saturday.
In Austin to visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Joint Information Center and receive a department update on relief efforts at a local U.S. Geological Survey office, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Saturday that recovery will be a “marathon, not a sprint,” that lasts for years.
“This is going to take a long time for recovery,” Zinke said. “I would say we’re probably at 20 percent.”
Zinke commended first responders as well as federal and state government for the immediate response to Harvey.
‘“It was a good first sprint, and I think it was a tribute to the great state of Texas and the governor and the president working all together,” Zinke said.
Five of the U.S. Geological Survey’s stream gauges in Harris County indicate water levels still remain above normal, and three were at all-time daily highs on Saturday, according to the service’s real-time map.
All three that were at all-time highs were on the Buffalo Bayou, which remains flooded after water was released into it by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect two upstream dams during Harvey’s rains. The five that were above normal were on the White Oak Bayou, Cypress Creek and Brays Bayou, among other streams.
Jeff Adams, who managed the response to wildlife refuges in Texas for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said 13 employees statewide are still displaced, and the service is housing them temporarily in trailers, Adams said.
Adams said the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge reopened Saturday, the last refuge to reopen after the storm. It took the longest to reopen because it suffered wind damage. About 75 percent of its buildings were significantly damaged, including seven that were demolished, he said.