US accepts Mexico flood aid offer

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has thanked Mexico for offering vehicles, supplies and food to ease situation in the flooded state of Texas

31 August 2017, 2:35pm
Thousands of Texans have been evacuated from their homes
Thousands of Texans have been evacuated from their homes
The US state of Texas has accepted an offer of flood aid from Mexico despite tension over President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall and his threats to scrap a free-trade deal.

Mexico has offered vehicles, boats, supplies and food, reports said, and Mexican Red Cross volunteers have also travelled to the flooded city of Houston.

President Trump has not yet commented but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has thanked the Mexicans.

"It’s very generous of the government of Mexico to offer their help at this very, very challenging time for our citizens down in Texas and now moving towards the border of Louisiana as well," Mr Tillerson said.

It is not yet known when Mexico will provide the aid. But its government has suggested a similar mission to that sent to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when 200 Mexican troops brought food, water and medicine.

A separate convoy of 33 English-speaking Mexican Red Cross volunteers left for Texas to work in Houston shelters.

Some on social media pointed out that groups Trump has been accused of demonising have been prominent in their offers of help for flood victims.

Trump has promised Mexico will pay for any border wall. But Mexico has refused and the US president has conceded that the US will have to find initial funding.

He has threatened to force a federal government shutdown if funds are not allocated in the upcoming budget, but economists from investment bank Goldman Sachs say Storm Harvey has made that less likely.

Trump has also promised emergency funds to rebuild in Texas and Louisiana, but also plans to cut nearly $1bn from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) budget to help get work on the border barrier started, the Associated Press news agency reported.

In a speech following his visit to Texas earlier this week, he told relatives of victims that "all of America is grieving with you, and our hearts are joined with yours forever".

Parts of Texas have been hit by more than 50in of rainfall since Hurricane Harvey landed on 25 August, setting new records before it was downgraded to a tropical storm and later to a tropical depression.

Thousands of people have been rescued from the floodwaters, and more than 32,000 people are being housed in emergency shelters.