Displaced by Harvey, Texans plan for life after evacuation shelters

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastating path through southeastern Texas, FEMA Administrator Brock Long said his agency is operating more than 200 shelters and housing more than 32,000 people in the state.

Harvey has killed at least 31 people, forced thousands more to evacuate and flooded thousands of homes since it first made landfall nearly one week ago. Recovery efforts will take years, officials have said, and many residents have not even begun surveying their damaged homes.

But displaced Texans also can’t stay in evacuation shelters forever, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said at a press conference Wednesday.

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Evacuees fill up cots at the George Brown Convention Center that has been turned into a shelter run by the American Red Cross to house victims of Hurricane Harvey, Aug. 28, 2017, in Houston.

Long — who said the agency’s mission at this time is taking care of people and restoring hope — said officials will start trying to move displaced people from shelters into local hotels. More than 1,800 flood survivors have already been placed in hotels or motels by FEMA, he said. Then, officials will help residents clear out their inundated homes so they can return to them, although some houses will be too damaged for residents to return anytime soon.

SLIDESHOW: Slideshow: Hurricane Harvey devastates Gulf Coast

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Abbott said that “shelters and evacuation centers are intended to be short-term facilities,” explaining that officials want to quickly move people from them into locations “where there are living rooms and bedrooms and bathrooms that people can use as a family unit.”

Abbott added that there are nearly 2,000 post-evacuation center rooms that have already been set up, and officials “want to provide more as soon as possible.”

Long said that housing people in FEMA travel trailers much like the ones that were used after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is a “last resort.”

Evacuees have also been bused to different parts of the state, with many being sent to the Dallas region, Abbott said Wednesday.

He also urged Texans affected by the storm “to sign up at disasterassistance.gov so you can register to begin to receive the money and other resources you need that you can get from FEMA for the next transition.”

Long said that so far, 325,000 people have registered for FEMA assistance and $57 million has been distributed.

In Port Aransas, Texas, William Weeks returned Wednesday to his home to assess the damage and…

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