×

Houston is open for business — sort of

Daniel Vasquez removes a damaged carpet after Tropical Storm Harvey flooded his home in east Houston, Texas, September 3, 2017.
Carlos Barria | Reuters
Daniel Vasquez removes a damaged carpet after Tropical Storm Harvey flooded his home in east Houston, Texas, September 3, 2017.

Public school staffers in Houston were scheduled to return to their schools and Mayor Sylvester Turner claimed his city will be "open for business" Tuesday, less than two weeks after historic Hurricane Harvey slammed onto the Texas coast.

"Most streets safe for passage but Harvey has created new opportunity to see how convenient @METROHouston options can be!" Turner tweeted Monday.

Texas emergency management officials also said Monday that the death toll from Harvey has hit at least 60. Many residents remain out of their homes and some streets are awash in debris.

More from USA Today:
In a city with no water, two men get Coca-Cola's permission to steal it
Harvey survivor returns home to find hope in the destruction
All eyes on Hurricane Irma as storm moves toward Leeward Islands

But the city and the region were making progress. Turner told CBS News that people scheduled to attend a conference, see a concert or attend a sports event shouldn't alter their plans. The airport was open, the water system was functioning and the electrical grid was sound, he said.

The population of the George R. Brown Convention Center, once a shelter for almost 10,000, fell below 2,000. More than 50,000 flooding evacuees had moved into FEMA-sponsored hotel rooms.

Several suburban school districts scheduled classes for Tuesday, although Houston was waiting until Sept. 11 to greet its 200,000-plus students.

The evacuation order around the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby was lifted. The plant was flooded and lost power last week, causing some chemical canisters to burn. Most have burned out and the area is safe, the company said Monday.

"Arkema will continue to work with its neighbors and the community to recover from the substantial impact of Hurricane Harvey," the company said in a statement.

Walmart said all but five of its stores in the region had reopened. Public Storage, which rents storage space across the nation, announced Monday that it had reopened all 115 sites affected by the storm. Colonial pipeline said it would restart a segment of its gas pipeline in the region Tuesday.

Out-of-town help was assisting communities dealing with massive debris removal efforts. San Antonio sent 45 solid waste removal trucks to the hard-hit Kingwood neighborhood. Thanks to the federal disaster declaration, FEMA was expected to cover 90% of the debris removal costs.

The Houston SPCA was working to reunite hundreds of pets with their families displaced by the flooding.

"We've gotten quite a number of calls from people who had to leave their homes very quickly, their animals are still there and they can't get back in," said Julie Kuenstle, director of communications for the Houston SPCA. "We work with local law enforcement and go into their homes and get them reunited."

One crucial aspect of life in Texas remained on hold in some areas. Friday night lights, the tradition of high school football, hasn't been able to kick off in places like Vidor, 100 miles east of Houston. Vidor High football coach Jeff Mathews told the Beaumont Enterprise that 80% of his players were forced to evacuate because of flooding. His own home remained awash in water Monday.

"I don't know when we're going to be able to play football again," Mathews told the Enterprise. "Most of us are just trying to find a place to live."