While the number of evacuees seeking refuge in Houston’s emergency shelters dwindled 10 days after Harvey struck, many people who had left by Monday still faced dire housing needs. Some returned to public housing complexes inundated with sewage and mud. More than 50,000 went to government-paid hotels, some far away from homes and schools. Others moved in with family and friends.
Harvey did not discriminate, inundating exclusive neighborhoods and low-lying apartments for the poor, and was blamed for at least 60 deaths. Most of the evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center were lower-income, but some were from wealthier areas. Now, about 1,500 remain at the convention center, and several said they were homeless, disabled, or from public housing. About 2,800 were at the NRG Center, another convention center that opened after George R. Brown reached double its original capacity.
Harvey struck Texas on Aug. 25 as a Category 4 hurricane, but brought the worst flooding to Houston and other areas as a tropical storm. The rain totaled nearly 52 inches (1.3 meters) in some spots. Mayor Sylvester Turner has declared Houston “open for business,” and offices and restaurants across downtown are expected to reopen Tuesday after the Labor Day holiday.
Concerns about further explosions at a damaged chemical plant eased after officials on Sunday carried out a controlled burn of highly unstable compounds at the Arkema plant in Crosby. Three trailers had previously caught fire after Harvey’s floodwaters knocked out generators. Authorities said it was safe for residents of a 1.5-mile (2.4 kilometer) evacuation zone around the Arkema plant to return. They were forced to leave Aug. 29.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said 53,630 residents displaced by Harvey are currently staying in government-funded hotel rooms. FEMA says it has about 560,000 families registered for its housing assistance program.