Flood victims in Orange are getting used to life post-Harvey
The city of Beaumont has been without clean drinking water for more than one week. So far, $15 billion has been ear marked for hurricane relief efforts.
The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed this legislation with an 80-17 vote and raised the debt ceiling through December.
The money will aid Harvey relief efforts as well as the initial emergency funding for hurricane Irma, which is expected to hit Florida in the next couple of days.
If the House approves the bill, it will head to the president's desk for his approval.
In southeast Texas, tens of thousands of residents are still struggling to get their lives back on track in Harvey’s wake.
According to a FEMA spokesperson, 54,979 people in Jefferson County have registered for emergency assistance. That is the second highest for any county behind Harris that has seen more than 322,000 people register.
On Thursday, Orange Mayor Jimmy Sims said Harvey is the worst story in the city’s history.
Flood victims in Orange are getting used to life post-Harvey.
It consists mostly of gutting homes, removing insulation and sheet rock, everything that's been contaminated by flood water.
Volunteers were seen Thursday doing demolition for an elderly community near Little Cypress in an attempt make their living spaces safe again.
But people who live there don’t expect life to return to normal for a long, long time.
“It’s an emotional, gut wrenching terrible time,” said volunteer Les Hayhurst.
While life returns to normal in some neighborhoods, Orange is not one of them.
“I don’t know that it will ever be normal again,” said Shirley Leblanc who was also helping an elderly woman that she cares for.
Leblanc herself went days without power or running water. She hoped to get some help from the state of Texas, just to get by for the next month while she's out of a job.
“I called the food stamp office 2-1-1 and after an hour-and-a-half on the phone she tells me there has been no disaster declaration for food stamps,” Leblanc said.
An assistant press officer with the Department of Health and Human Services said in an email:
“We are continuing discussions with the federal government about the possibility of a Disaster-SNAP waiver, which would offer short-term food assistance benefits to eligible families recovering after they return home following the disaster. At this time, we do not know when D-SNAP will be approved. As soon as we know it is available, we will let Texans know using HHS communications channels.”
“When they need the help the most they're not getting it,” Leblanc said.
But, when other avenues failed her, the kindness of neighbors saved her.
“My neighbor fed me when my electricity was off she had a gas stove,” Leblanc said.
Les Hayhurst also spent Thursday focusing his volunteer efforts in Orange.
“It’s an emotionally wrenching terrible time to take all of your belongings and just pile them up on the side of the road it's just an emotional gut wrench,” Hayhurst said.
He and a friend worked to cut molded sheetrock out of the residence of an elderly woman.
“When all this is done in the mold really sets in, the biggest need we will have going forward is sheetrock. A lot of these homes especially in the elderly communities don't have insurance,” Hayhurst said.
World War II veteran Robert Rothrock lives in the same community where Leblanc and Hayhurst are volunteering. He’s weathered his fair share of storms.
“I've been through 21 hurricanes and two typhoons,” Rothrock said.
He spent the day sitting outside, waving to passersby, relieved to see the sun again.
“I love to see the birds, see the people, Rothrock said.
Even more than that, Rothrock says the best thing that's left standing after the storm, is the flag of the United States of America and the hope it represents for the future.
“We got to keep it flying. It’s the only thing we've got left,” Rothrock said.