Federal government unleashes response to Harvey

 The Federal Emergency Management Agency says more than 21,000 federal workers have been deployed in Tropical Storm Harvey’s aftermath.

Federal, state and local search and rescue teams continue scouring the region. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Texas National Guard are transporting material and volunteers to impacted areas, and approximately 53,000 pounds of medical equipment and supplies have been deployed.

In addition, FEMA says it has provided Texans with more than 1,900,000 meals, more than 1,960,000 million liters of water, some 4,700 blankets and in excess of 1,400 cots.

So far, the agency has received more than 364,000 registrations for assistance, the largest registration after any single event. Some 103,000 applications have already been approved for $66.4 million.

Meanwhile, The U.S. Small Business Administration has received 2,118 disaster loan applications, primarily for homes.

Short-term housing assistance and other funding is available to those who register. Short-term lodging may be available at eligible hotels. FEMA can also provide up to two months of rental assistance to those eligible.

The National Flood Insurance Program is issuing advance payments of up to $5,000 for building and contents damages prior to an adjuster’s inspection. Policyholders with photos and receipts for out-of-pocket expenses may receive an advance of up to $10,000.

Elsewhere, the American Red Cross reports it has more than 2,000 disaster workers on the ground, and hundreds more enroute, including volunteers from the Mexican Red Cross who will connect with Spanish-speaking survivors. The Red Cross estimates that it has shelter supplies in the area for nearly 70,000 people. So far, the organization has served more than 250,000 meals and snacks.

The Department of Health and Human Services says it has provided care to more than 500 patients at the George R. Brown Convention Center and two urgent care sites elsewhere. HHS has more than 1,000 personnel on the ground in Texas and Louisiana.

The Department of Defense is providing more than 645,000 gallons of fuel in several locations.

The Federal Trade Commission and the IRS are warning residents to be cautious of charity scams and to do research to ensure that donations will go to a reputable organization. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising that food, medicine, and medical devices should be thrown out if they have come in contact with flood water or stored improperly during a power outage.

The U.S. Social Security Administration is coordinating with the U.S. Postal Service to establish 46 alternative pick-up points around Houston where individuals can collect benefit checks. A press release identifies the locations by ZIP code. For beneficiaries with Direct Express cards, Comerica will be waiving fees.

For updates on all federal agency disaster resources, see www.usa.gov/hurricane-harvey.

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