In response to the historic flooding in Texas, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (i.e. FEMA) was quoted by CNN saying that his agency is gearing up for a years-long effort to help the recovery from the damage wrought by Hurricane Harvey. "FEMA is going to be there for years," administrator Brock Long said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." He said that "this disaster is going to be a landmark event."
Spearheading the government's emergency and crisis response, FEMA is focused on the immediate reaction to the storm, but is also "pushing forward" teams focused on recovery housing and flood insurance program policy. "We're setting up and gearing up for the next couple years."
While Long compared the current crisis to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he said Harvey poses different challenges and was "nothing like" it. He stressed the days-long threat it poses as it makes its way further into Texas. "This is a storm that the United States has not seen yet," he said.
The FEMA head said President Trump had given him all the power he needs to mobilize for the storm, and when asked about key vacancies in the administration and how that might affect the response, Long said he was unconcerned. "I don't even have time to worry about it right now."
Earlier, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also emphasized the need for residents in the path of the storm to "listen to all warnings from local officials" in an interview on CNN. Abbott added that state and federal responders are coordinating effectively. "I've talked to President Trump several times, as well as his Cabinet members and his officials, and especially the head of FEMA," Abbott said. "And we've made multiple requests, and we're getting absolutely everything we need."
Trump, who is spending the weekend at Camp David, continued to tweet Sunday morning about the response and recovery efforts in Texas, saying he was about to hold a Cabinet teleconference on the effort.
Trump also praised the interagency response. "Great coordination between agencies at all levels of government," the President wrote. "Continuing rains and flash floods are being dealt with. Thousands rescued." The president added: "Many people are now saying that this is the worst storm/hurricane they have ever seen. Good news is that we have great talent on the ground."
On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted that he will be "going to Texas as soon as that trip can be made without causing disruption. The focus must be life and safety,” and a few hours later on Sunday afternoon, the White House confirmed that Trump will visit Texas on Tuesday. The details of the trip, including the location of Trump's visit, are still to be determined.
“The president will travel to Texas on Tuesday," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "We are coordinating logistics with state and local officials, and once details are finalized, we will let you know. We continue to keep all of those affected in our thoughts and prayers.”