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UPDATE: Some Evacuation Orders Lifted, Texas Congressional Delegation Volunteers at NRG

Congress could pass the first relief package for those hurt by Hurricane Harvey before the week is out.

Congress could pass the first relief package for those hurt by Hurricane Harvey before the week is out. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made the announcement at NRG Center, alongside Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and much of the Houston Area congressional delegation.

Members of Congress return to work Tuesday, following the August recess and Labor Day weekend. Congressman McCarthy pledged to the lower chamber would vote to send the first Texas relief package to the Senate by Wednesday. He said it would be the first aid package but not the last.

Senators Cornyn and Cruz both said they would work to make sure the aid gets to those hurt by Harvey as quickly as possible. As the number two Republican in the Senate, Cornyn has a key role in shepherding any relief funding through.

Congressman Kevin McCarthy, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, said he’ll be working on related legislation to provide targeted tax relief. He said that would include lifting the limits for charitable contributions. – Andrew Schneider, Houston Public Media

Later on Monday, Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) as well as most of the Houston area congressional delegation will be volunteering at the NRG Center today. They have a press conference scheduled afterwards to talk about funding for Hurricane Harvey relief.

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The US Department of Veteran Affairs deployed four Mobile Vet Centers to Houston to provide counseling services to veterans affected by Harvey, particularly evacuees.  Find more information here on locations.

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Only over a week after Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast and flooded Houston with non-stop rains, another hurricane has the  islands at the eastern end of the Caribbean Sea making  preparations  for approaching Category 3 Hurricane Irma, which  could threaten the area beginning Tuesday.

Hurricane watches were posted for Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Monserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Martin, Guadeloupe and the British Virgin Islands.

Long-range forecasts indicated Irma likely would curve to the northwest beginning late Monday and skirt to the north of those islands on a path that could potentially take it to the U.S. East Coast, but it was too early to make a definitive prediction.

 

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Arkema, the company that owns the Crosby chemical plant located about 20 miles northeast of Houston said on Monday that authorities have lifted the security perimeter established around the plant. 

A mandatory evacuation had been placed last week for people living within 1.5 miles of the site, after  the plant flooded in the wake of hurricane Harvey and some of its containers cracked and release what At the company considered as harming fumes.

The fear was that more flammable organic pesticides could release, but the materials were ignited in a controlled burn on Sunday.

News 88.7’s Andrew Schneider reported: 

 

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office said in a statement Sunday evening that all nine trailers filled with organic peroxide at the plant had burned. Earlier Sunday, authorities said that a controlled burn had started on the six trailers that had not caught fire in previous days.

The company set up a hotline for people to report damage, make claims or get other necessary info on how to get help from Arkema: 877-4-ARKEMA

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Evacuation orders for Fort Bend county districts operating levees have been cancelled, after County Judge Robert Heber said that he will be reviewing the conditions in that area on an ongoing basis to ensure that once it may be safe to enter an area, residents are allowed to do so.

The curfew that was in effect from August 31 until Sunday has also been terminated.

 Some areas of Fort Bend County were severely flooded last week,  and Harvey rains  caused the Brazos and San Bernard rivers to rise to record heights.

Judge Hebert issued evacuation orders in many areas of the county in order to protect life and property, but the conditions have improved enough to warrant a cautious lifting of these orders for much of the county.

On Sunday evening, the Barker Reservoir pool levels were still high enough to make re-entry to some neighborhoods unsafe, and the mandatory evacuation remains in place for some neighborhoods adjacent to the Barker Reservoir.

Low-lying areas along the Brazos and San Bernard rivers remain under voluntary evacuation.  Residents are encouraged to use extreme caution when entering these areas.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency said on Monday that it has received  more than 555,000 registrations for assistance due to Harvey. More than 176,000 survivors have already been approved for $141 million in FEMA disaster assistance. Of that amount, $50 million is approved for housing assistance,  rental assistance, and more than $91 million is approved for other needs assistance.

FEMA encouraged those in need of federal assistance to register online as a way to speed the process:  DisasterAssistance.gov

The agency explained that they are coordinating efforts with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as other federal, state and local partners to direct efforts toward recovery, including housing survivors displaced by the disaster

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As of Sunday, officials at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences said that so far there are 29 confirmed deaths in Harris County as a direct result of Hurricane Harvey. 

 

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