Harvey has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but with rain water yet to crest and rescue efforts still at fever pitch, federal officials are calling for citizens to step up and get involved.
“The bottom line is that this is going to continue on. We need the whole community, not only the federal government forces,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long told reporters Monday, Aug. 28.
“It’s going to require the citizens getting involved,” he said.
Long said that even with the unified firepower of the federal government dedicated to dealing with the impact of Harvey, there was much to do before those resources could begin looking toward recovery efforts.
“We are not at recovery yet. …This is a life safety, life-sustaining mission,” said Brock.
Authorities have been overwhelmed with calls for help, and have asked those hit by floodwaters to only call 911 if there a need for medical attention or immediate evacuation.
FEMA is directing those looking for some assurance to help them through the stress of the storm-wrought flood to contact the Disaster Distress Helpline.
— FEMA (@fema) August 28, 2017
With dozens of counties facing disaster conditions, the numbers of evacuees has risen, and many have been left on dry land but await transport to shelters.
Brock said that stage of the mission will be a “heavy lift.”
— American Red Cross (@RedCross) August 28, 2017
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke said the agency is working to provide assistance as quickly as possible and remains focused on rescue operations.
“People need help and we are working to provide it,” Duke told reporters Monday. “We are not out of the woods yet, not by a long shot.”
Duke said the agency is well aware of the challenges ahead, particularly in Houston, and asked those in affected areas to check on neighbors and friends, particularly the elderly.
Long directed those willing to help to the website for National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, as did a post on FEMA’s Facebook page.
FEMA and other relief agencies have asked that those looking for assistance not use social media to reach agencies but instead telephone the appropriate services or use 911 when necessary.