Houston floods: White House seeks disaster aid from Congress

| Updated Sep 01, 2017 at 5:46am



The White House will ask Congress for emergency funding to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

"The American people are with you," Vice-President Mike Pence said during a visit to Texas.

"We will be here every day until this city and this state and this region rebuild bigger and better than ever before," he said.

President Trump is expected to propose an initial $5.9bn (£4.56bn) in aid, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said earlier the state might need more than $125bn from the federal government.

At least 39 people have died in the storm and its aftermath.

Mr. Pence said 311,000 people had registered for disaster assistance, and that he hoped for bipartisan support in Congress for the funding request.

It is not yet clear how quickly funds might reach victims.

Visiting the battered town of Rockport, Mr Pence paid tribute to the people of Texas: "The sights and sounds and conversations we had today were just overwhelming.

"I think the resilience of the people of Texas has been inspiring. To see people who've gone through the horror of one of the largest natural disasters in American history to be standing shoulder to shoulder, passing out food to their neighbours, helping their neighbours clear out their homes with a smile on their face... it's humbling to me and it's deeply inspiring."

The White House also said Mr Trump would donate $1m of his own money to the relief effort.

As floodwaters recede, the focus has turned from rescue efforts to long-term recovery but residents are being warned not to return home until they are told it is safe to do so.

President Trump and his wife Melania are expected to return to Texas on Saturday.

The president visited the flood-hit state earlier in the week but limited his visit to Corpus Christi, which avoided the worst of the flooding, over fears his presence could divert resources from rescue efforts.

Storm Harvey was downgraded to a tropical depression but the US National Weather Service said it is now beginning to lose its tropical characteristics.

It is expected to dissipate in Ohio on Saturday evening.

Several inches of rainfall are expected in Tennessee and Kentucky over the next two days, and flood warnings remain in effect in parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, and Louisiana.