In­te­rior sec­re­tary says Hur­ri­cane Har­vey re­cov­ery level is about 20%

Ryan Zinke de­scribes the relief process as a ‘marathon, not a sprint.’

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - METRO & STATE - By Tay­lor Gold­en­stein

About 16,000 Tex­ans still are dis­placed and liv­ing in ho­tels and other tem­po­rary hous­ing be­cause of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, fed­eral of­fi­cials said Satur­day.

In Austin to visit the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency’s Joint In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter and re­ceive a de­part­ment up­date on relief ef­forts at a lo­cal U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey of­fice, U.S. In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke said Satur­day that re­cov­ery will be a “marathon, not a sprint,” that lasts for years.

“This is go­ing to take a long time for re­cov­ery,” Zinke said. “I would say we’re prob­a­bly at 20 per­cent.”

Zinke com­mended first re­spon­ders as well as fed­eral and state govern­ment for the im­me­di­ate re­sponse to Har­vey.

‘“It was a good first sprint, and I think it was a trib­ute to the great state of Texas and the gover­nor and the pres­i­dent work­ing all to­gether,” Zinke said.

Five of the U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey stream gauges in Har­ris County in­di­cate wa­ter lev­els re­main above nor­mal, and three were at all-time daily highs on Satur­day, ac­cord­ing to the agency’s real-time map.

All three that were at all-time highs were on the Buf­falo Bayou, which re­mains flooded after wa­ter was re­leased into it by the Army Corps of En­gi­neers to pro­tect two up­stream dams dur­ing Har­vey’s rains. The five that were above nor­mal were on the White Oak Bayou, Cy­press Creek and Brays Bayou, among other streams.

Jeff Adams, who man­aged the re­sponse to wildlife refuges

in Texas for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice, said 13 em­ploy­ees statewide are still dis­placed, and the ser­vice is hous­ing them tem­po­rar­ily in trail­ers, Adams said.

Adams said the Aransas Na­tional Wildlife Refuge re­opened Satur­day, the last refuge to re­open after the storm. It took the long­est be­cause it suf­fered wind dam­age. About 75 per­cent of its build­ings were sig­nif­i­cantly dam­aged, in­clud­ing seven that were de­mol­ished, he said.

TAY­LOR GOLD­EN­STEIN / AMERICAN-STATES­MAN

U.S. In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke (sec­ond from right), in Austin to mon­i­tor hur­ri­cane re­cov­ery ef­forts Satur­day, said the process “is go­ing to take a long time.”

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