President Donald Trump headed to Texas and Louisiana on Saturday to meet rescuers and survivors of Hurricane Harvey, one week after the powerful storm blasted the region and unleashed historic flooding.
The trip comes after the White House asked Congress for USD 7.85 billion for Harvey-related "response and initial recovery efforts," calling it a "down payment" on the long- term cost of recovering from the catastrophic flooding.
Trump and his wife Melania departed from Andrews Air Force Base outside the US capital just before 10 am (1400 GMT) enroute to Houston.
The president is returning to Texas for his second visit since the megastorm hit, and will also visit neighboring Louisiana.
One week after Harvey slammed into southeast Texas as a Category Four hurricane, rescuers were still searching by air and by boat for people trapped in flooded homes.
A fresh blaze broke out late Friday at a chemical plant in Crosby, northeast of Houston, sending a giant plume of thick black smoke billowing into the sky.
And as floodwaters receded in Houston, the fourth most populous city in the United States, nearby cities such as Beaumont -- which had lost its water supply -- and Port Arthur struggled to recover.
"I ain't never seen nothing like it in my 37 years," said Tobias James, surveying the damage to his home in Port Arthur, including the two ruined cars in his flooded garage.
Just two days earlier, the oil and gas refinery worker was hoisted out of rising floodwaters by a rescue helicopter, along with his wife and children.
Harvey has been blamed for at least 42 deaths thus far and tens of billions of dollars of damage.
The White House's request for nearly USD 8 billion in emergency storm aid -- made in a letter late Friday to House Speaker Paul Ryan -- was USD 2 billion more than what the White House was expected to request, suggesting a rapid rise in needed funding as the scale of the disaster becomes clear.