Harvey recovery not 'fast enough' after 'historic' response, Turner says

HOUSTON – Six months after Hurricane Harvey caused devastating floods in the Houston region, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Friday that recovery efforts are not moving fast enough.

The mayor said he is impressed with how quickly the city has been able to accomplish what it has after the storm, but there is still more that needs to be done.

"Harvey was historic,” Turner said. “Our emergency response was equally historic.”

Turner said city assets and infrastructure sustained about $2.5 billion worth of damage during Harvey. Two sewer plants and a water plant were submerged during the storm and efforts are underway to make those facilities more resilient, Turner said. The municipal court building was heavily damaged and is a high priority, Turner said. The Wortham Center also sustained heavy damage, but it is expected to reopen on Sept. 1, Turner said.

As of Tuesday, Turner said, there are 3,422 households that are still living in hotels.

Since the storm, the Houston Fire Department has added four high-water vehicles and six boats to its rescue fleet and money has been approved to add to those assets, Turner said.

Turner said money has also been approved for storm response training.

“We will be better prepared for the next storm,” Turner said.

Marvin Odum, the city’s recovery czar, laid out a six-point plan aimed at Houston’s recovery from the storm and making the city more resilient to future disasters.

“Change is not easy, but we must,” Odum said, while talking about the city’s plan to use the 500-year floodplain as the benchmark for elevating new construction.

Odum said work will be concentrated on not only helping those who are still in need but also looking forward to the next storm.

Turner said that on Saturday the city will kick off the “Houston Still Needs You” campaign, aimed at encouraging people to volunteer in the recovery efforts. More information about the plan can be found at houstontx.gov/volunteer.

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