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Speaker Paul Ryan tours flood-damaged neighborhood in Friendswood

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Speaker Paul Ryan toured flood-damaged Friendswood neighborhoods on Thursday. (KTRK)

Congressional leaders including House Speaker Paul Ryan toured damage from Hurricane Harvey and even pitched in helping with cleanup before answering questions about federal assistance.

"We just flew over just the Houston area and just in that area that devastation is something we've never seen before in our lifetime," Ryan said.

He was joined by Texas senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn along with house representatives Al Green, Michael McCaul, Blake Farenthold and more.

Flooded residents like Lou Ann Garcia were thrilled to see the politicians and hopeful their presence means more assistance soon.

"Our politicians came all the way down here to little old Friendswood," Garcia said. "I'm grateful."

Congress has already approved $15 billion in federal aid for Harvey recovery. Ryan said that emergency aid package had bipartisan support and he expects more aid requests before Congress next month.

But with Irma in Florida and Puerto Rico now facing its own hurricane damage, he offered no details on how much future aid Texas could get.

"We're waiting to see from the administration what the request is. Right now, it's about this kind of damage. Right now, it's about the cleanup," Ryan said.

Senator Cruz, however, was confident Congress will take care of Texas.

"It's going to be substantially more than the initial $15 billion," Cruz said, calling the current spending a "down payment."

Questions also turned to preventing future flooding disasters.

Senator Cornyn mentioned a possible coastal spine under consideration from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Representative Michael McCaul suggested another reservoir, saying the spillage from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs was a primary problem during Hurricane Harvey-related floods.

"To me, it all starts there and that's where we need to fix this. Whether it be a reservoir, which I would posit would be the better answer," he said.

Ryan said the focus now should be on emergency assistance, and prevention will have to come later.

"Then, the bigger picture, whether it's bayous or levees or what not, that's something we're going to have to have a longer conversation about how we can best guard against this happening again," Ryan said.

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Related Topics:
politicspaul ryanhurricane harveyhouston floodFriendswood
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