Commission To Rebuild Texas Update: Issue 13

December 15, 2017 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

In visiting with survivors across the Texas Gulf Coast Region these past few months, including this tiny Texan born a week before Hurricane Harvey hit, I was reminded again and again that each day is a gift. I am grateful for each life that was saved thanks to the heroic efforts of our emergency responders and the armada of citizens who came to aid their neighbors in need. I am also thankful for all who are giving of their hearts and their hands, and for the recovery teams working through the holidays to help more Texas families return home. Inspired by the resilience of all whom we’ve met, our commitment to help families recover and communities rebuild is stronger than ever. Our work together is not yet done.

The First Lady and I hope that you and yours find moments of peace to enjoy the blessings of the season.

– Governor Greg Abbott

Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas

  • Governor Abbott met with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to discuss ongoing recovery efforts. They were joined by Rebuild Commissioner John Sharp, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, FEMA Region 6 Administrator Tony Robinson and Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd. "Governor Abbott’s leadership and the tireless efforts of first responders, state and local officials, and volunteers has led to a successful initial recovery, but there’s still more work to be done," said Sec. Nielsen. "I look forward to working alongside Administrator Long, the dedicated workforce at FEMA, and our state and local partners until Texas is fully recovered, and prepared for future hurricanes."
  • Governor Abbott is continuing to work with members of Congress to ensure Texans get the relief they need before the end of the year.
  • More than $502.3 million in Public Assistance funding from FEMA for state and local governments has been obligated, and 1,056 Requests for Public Assistance have been received from jurisdictions, as of Dec. 13.
  • As of Dec. 14, roughly 4,548 reports have been submitted from the field to the Assistance Center at Texas A&M. From those reports, the Assistance Center identified 665 issues needing follow-up or resolution, and all but two have been resolved.
  • TDEM estimates over 10.8 million cubic yards of debris have been collected, about 49 percent of the anticipated total.

Individual Assistance

  • More than $11.2 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. 13.
  • 894,556 individual assistance applications have been received as of Dec. 13. Although FEMA’s registration deadline has passed, survivors with extenuating circumstances may still apply for disaster assistance. Late applications will be reviewed for possible approval, but applicants will have to submit a letter with documentation explaining why they were not able to apply before the deadline. Go to
  • 224,025 individuals have visited Disaster Recovery Centers for assistance, as of Dec. 13; for current locations and mobile units visit or download the FEMA app
  • FEMA has completed 592,289 inspections, as of Dec. 13.
  • 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.
  • 11,362 households are taking advantage of FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance, as of Dec. 13. The TSA program providing short-term hotel stays to displaced survivors while they look for longer-term housing extends to Jan. 16, 2018.
  • 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 testified before the Texas House Urban Affairs Committee in Beaumont where he highlighted the work of FEMA and GLO teams in helping Harvey victims with debris removal, transitional housing assistance and direct housing programs.
  • Commissioner Bush then went to Nome, Texas, where he met with a family participating in the Direct Assistance for Limited Home Repair (DALHR) program, surveyed damage with a home inspector and spoke with survivors about their road to recovery.
  • To expedite housing assistance, FEMA accepted a GLO recommendation to remove a requirement that a house have received at least 18" in floodwater damage to qualify through DALHR. An additional 2,600 homes now become potentially eligible.
  • The GLO met with the Houston Galveston Area Council in Houston and the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission in Beaumont to discuss the direct housing permitting process. To receive information on this presentation, email
  • The direct housing effort has housed 755 families to date in temporary units. Another 76 units are ready for occupancy, and 54 units are in the final stage of electric hookup. The GLO and FEMA will work continuously through the holiday season to help more Texans return home.
  • The Texas Department of Insurance’s Help After Harvey page 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 800-252-3439, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon. to Fri.
  • 73,690 claims have been filed with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA); 16,846 claims have been filed with the Texas FAIR Plan Association, as of Dec. 13.
  • Flood insurance must be maintained to qualify for federal assistance in the future. NFIP policyholders with questions may call 800-621-3362, Mon. to Sat., 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For information, visit
    • The Federal Housing Administration offers mortgage relief options to Hurricane Harvey survivors in Texas at 800-CALL-FHA.
  • is the housing information source for individuals and communities.
  • Follow the hurricane recovery progress on the Texas GLO’s Twitter at


  • Today, Dec. 15, is the deadline for educators and those with knowledge about the current mental and behavioral health challenges faced by students and school staff post-Harvey to complete this survey for Governor Abbott's inter-agency Hurricane Harvey Task Force on School Mental Health Supports. The Task Force, spearheaded by the Texas Education Agency, will use the information obtained in the survey to identify and prioritize mental and behavioral health needs of impacted schools, and spur local coordination to link schools with resources to address identified needs. 
  • TEA has issued additional guidance for Texas Student Data System (TSDS) PEIMS crisis coding and McKinney-Vento homeless coding for students impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Texans Helping Texans

  • More than 3.29 million volunteer service hours have been recorded; these 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

Though Jefferson County experienced record rainfall from Hurricane Harvey at 63 inches, the Christmas holidays and the new year bring hope. First Lady Cecilia Abbott joined hundreds of children and families in Beaumont for the annual Jefferson County Child Welfare Board Foster Children’s Christmas Party. The party included free lunch, crafts and games for the kids, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, and 55 live Christmas trees decorated by the community and raffled off to families in attendance. Texas A&M AgriLife County Extension Agents report that the majority of debris removal has concluded in the county. The main focus of recovery now is transitioning people back into their homes and out of temporary housing. Ag producers worked in advance to mitigate losses by moving livestock to higher ground and harvesting as much rice and other crops as possible. However, due to the amount of rainfall, livestock and crops were still lost. With the new year ahead, pastures are being prepared for the spring hay season, and livestock are gaining back weight and strength. Producers have begun to rebuild their herds, and fences and barns are being replaced and repaired. Supplemental feeding of livestock through winter is still a challenge, but progress has been made thanks to the many hay donations to the area.