Commission To Rebuild Texas Update: Issue 12

December 8, 2017 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

As the First Lady of Texas, I am always so proud to welcome visitors to our great state so they can see for themselves the indomitable spirit of Texas. It was a joy to have the First Lady and Second Lady of the United States join me this week on another trip to the Gulf Coast region to meet some true Texas heroes — our fearless first responders, our dedicated teachers, our generous volunteers and, most especially, our courageous and determined families displaced by this disastrous storm. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank Melania and Karen not only for the visit, but also for their continued interest in the rebuilding and recovery efforts of Texans impacted by Hurricane Harvey. We are all in this together, and we are all committed to doing whatever it takes to help our families recover and our communities rebuild — even stronger than before.

– First Lady Cecilia Abbott

Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas

  • Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott welcomed Mrs. Melania Trump, First Lady of the United States, and Mrs. Karen Pence, Second Lady of the United States, to the Texas Gulf Coast this week. Mrs. Abbott, Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Pence, joined by Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, visited a Rockport family now living in a FEMA manufactured housing unit after their home was heavily damaged by Hurricane Harvey. The delegation also traveled to Aransas Pass to tour Charlie Marshall Elementary School and meet with teachers and students, followed by a stop at the Coastal Bend Food Bank to meet with volunteers and help sort boxes of donations. Read more about the visit.
  • The State of Texas continues to press the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to submit their final comments to the federal register to allow Texas to begin utilizing the $5 billion in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) assistance passed by Congress. The General Land Office will use CDBG funds to assist affected homeowners in repairing and rebuilding houses damaged by hurricane winds and widespread, devastating flooding.
  • More than $502.3 million in Public Assistance funding from FEMA for state and local governments has been obligated, and 1,037 Requests for Public Assistance have been received from jurisdictions, as of Dec. 6
  • Rebuild Texas Commissioner John Sharp testified at a Texas House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness hearing on Dec. 5. Commissioner Sharp shared a major recommendation likely to be in the Commission’s report planned in advance of the 2019 legislative session: "We need the equivalent of a Texas Task Force 1 for disaster recovery" to train Texans and local leaders in the long-term disaster recovery process.
  • More than 4,311 reports have been submitted from the field to the Commission’s Assistance Center, as of Dec. 8. From those reports, the Assistance Center identified 659 issues needing follow-up or resolution, and all but three had been resolved.
  • TDEM estimates nearly 10.7 million cubic yards of debris have been collected, about 45 percent of the anticipated total.

Individual Assistance

  • More than $10.7 billion in federal funds have been provided directly to Texans, including FEMA grants to households, National Flood Insurance Program claims payments and SBA disaster loans, as of Dec. 6.
  • 894,220 individual assistance applications have been received as of Dec. 6.
  • Just under 13,000 households are taking advantage of FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance, as of Dec. 6. The TSA program providing short-term hotel stays to displaced survivors while they look for longer-term housing is extended to Jan. 16, 2018.
  • 216,536 individuals have visited Disaster Recovery Centers for assistance, as of Dec. 6; for current locations and mobile units visit or download the FEMA app
  • FEMA has completed 587,098 inspections, as of Dec. 6.

· A determination letter from FEMA indicating ineligibility can be appealed within 60 days of the date of the letter. For more information: Fact Sheet: Questions about Your Determination Letter.

· FEMA’s Disaster Distress Helpline offers trained professionals who can help callers cope with anxiety or stress, and guide them to available resources. This toll-free, multilingual and confidential crisis support service is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 800-985-5990, 800-846-8517 (TTY) or text TalkWithUs (Spanish-speakers text: Hablanos) to 66746.



  • Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush was in the Coastal Bend with First Lady Melania Trump, Second Lady Karen Pence and the First Lady of Texas, Cecilia Abbott. The group visited one of the 621 families housed to date in temporary units through the Direct Housing effort led by the State of Texas. FEMA and the Texas General Land Office continue to work with local leaders to find short-term housing solutions for those in need. Another 1,740 units are in the process of being installed, and GLO and FEMA will work continuously through the holiday season to make housing a reality for thousands of Texans recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
  • Help is available to avoid mortgage foreclosure and to finance repairs. GLO is teaming with disaster recovery partners at HUD to help homeowners affected by Hurricane Harvey who are facing a second struggle of returning to work and making mortgage payments. Commissioner Bush is urging Texans who are having trouble making mortgage payments to contact their service providers to learn about available resources or call the FHA Resource Center at (800) CALL-FHA.
  • Offering free information and tips on repairing and rebuilding stronger and safer, FEMA mitigation specialists are visiting McCoy’s Building Supply in Pasadena and McCoy’s Building Supply in El Campo through Sat., Dec. 9. For more information and resources on mitigation issues, visit
  • The National Flood Insurance Program has waived some requirements to make it easier to get advance payments quicker; 90,763 policyholders have filed flood insurance claims in Texas, and NFIP has paid $6.53 billion for Harvey claims in Texas, as of Dec. 6.
  • The Texas Department of Insurance has added a new feature to the Help After Harvey page that explains consumer options to challenge an insurer’s estimate of damages or a claims denial. TDI can help with insurance questions and complaints through the Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.
  • 73,532 claims have been filed with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA); 16,795 claims have been filed with the Texas FAIR Plan Association, as of Dec. 5.
  • · is the housing information source for individuals and communities.
  • Follow the hurricane recovery progress on the Texas GLO’s Twitter at


  • The Texas Education Agency is seeking insight from educators and those with knowledge about the current mental and behavioral health challenges faced by students and school staff post-Harvey. The survey is intended to spur local coordination and to link schools with resources to address identified needs.
  • The deadline for all school districts and charter schools affected by Hurricane Harvey to apply for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) E-rate funds to replace damaged equipment and services is December 13, 2017.

Texans Helping Texans

  • 52,646 volunteers have donated more than 3.29 million volunteer service hours which are carefully tracked and can be applied to a community’s cost-share offset if eligibility requirements are met as determined by FEMA’s Public Assistance program.

Community Spotlight

The bonds of brotherhood reach beyond state borders. Port Aransas Volunteer Fire Department, one of 20 Texas fire departments damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, received a fire truck donated by the Philomont Volunteer Fire Department from Virginia. The donation was facilitated through the Texas A&M Forest Service Helping Hands Program that allows the transfer of firefighting and rescue equipment and

vehicles to volunteer fire departments in need. The truck, a 2001 fire engine that can be used to fight structure fires, respond to vehicle accidents and medical emergencies, will help to build the capacity of Port Aransas to levels prior to Hurricane Harvey. “When we saw the flooding and damage on the television, we went to the county fire chief and asked what we could do to help,” said Philomont Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rick Pearsall. “The fire service is a brotherhood, and everyone does what they can to help each other.”