Commission To Rebuild Texas Update: Issue 14

January 5, 2018 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Before the end of the year, I enjoyed visiting with mayors, county judges and other officials in the Coastal Bend Region to thank them for their tireless service, and to present checks from the State of Texas reimbursing each community’s Hurricane Harvey debris removal cost-share not covered by FEMA. As we work with communities to rebuild critical infrastructure, and with Congress to speed much-needed additional funding, our continuing priority is to help more families return home more quickly. I am grateful to all who worked through the holidays to help displaced families begin the new year with hope. With each key handed over and each home repair completed, we are beginning to rebuild dreams. Family by family. Community by community. And by working together, we remain #TexasStrong.


– Governor Greg Abbott

Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas

  • Governor Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that FEMA approved their request to allow churches and religious organizations to receive the same public assistance available to other nonprofits aiding in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. This policy change is now effective for any major disaster declared on or after Aug. 23, 2017, including Hurricane Harvey. Governor Abbott joined Attorney General Paxton in a letter to President Donald Trump in September urging him to authorize this assistance: "When Harvey moved across the Texas Gulf Coast, churches across the state opened their doors to those in need. Churches and other houses of worship continue to play a vital role in the ongoing recovery effort, and their ability to receive the same assistance available to other nonprofits should never have been in doubt. I thank FEMA and the Administration for their commitment to helping Texans and the churches that have helped their communities throughout the recovery and rebuilding process.” FEMA is allowing a 30-day application period beginning Jan. 5, 2018, with applications accepted until Feb.4, 2018 at 11:59 PM CST. Houses of worship that would like to apply for Public Assistance must first submit a Request for Public Assistance form.
  • In the days before Christmas, Governor Abbott completed a two-day trip to meet with officials from Aransas County, Aransas Pass, Beaumont, Corpus Christi, Ingleside, Jefferson County, Orange, Port Aransas, Port Arthur, Refugio County, San Patricio County and Taft. The Governor presented local leaders with reimbursement funds to help cover the costs for debris removal in their communities.
  • Governor Abbott released a statement on Dec. 21 regarding the $81 billion disaster aid measure approved in the U.S. House: "Today's vote is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to ensure the funds Congress provides address the critical needs Texans are enduring from the largest natural disaster in our state’s history. We look forward to working with the Senate to improve the disaster funding to ensure it addresses the acute needs of Texans."
  • More than $504 million in Public Assistance funding from FEMA for state and local governments has been obligated, and 1,077 Requests for Public Assistance have been received from jurisdictions, as of Jan. 3.
  • As of Jan. 5, roughly 5130 reports have been submitted from the field to the Assistance Center at Texas A&M. From those reports, the Assistance Center identified 671 issues needing follow-up or resolution, and all have been resolved.
  • The Texas Well Owner Network will present free water well screenings in January for Aransas, Calhoun, Jackson, Matagorda, Refugio, San Patricio and Victoria counties to give residents impacted by Hurricane Harvey the opportunity to have their well water tested for contamination.
  • TDEM estimates over 11 million cubic yards of debris have been collected, about 52 percent of the anticipated total.

Individual Assistance

  • More than $12 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 Jan 3.
  • 237,317 individuals have visited Disaster Recovery Centers for assistance, as of Jan. 3; for current locations and mobile units visit or download the FEMA app
  • FEMA has completed 596,981 inspections, as of Jan. 3.
  • 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.
  • 10,958 households are taking advantage of FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance, as of Jan. 3. 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 visited Orange to meet with county officials at a housing complex affected by Hurricane Harvey and visited League City and Santa Fe to meet with recipients of the temporary housing and Direct Assistance for Limited Home Repair programs.
  • General Land Office staff joined FEMA for a Facebook live discussion of housing recovery and the Partial Repair and Essential Power for Sheltering program on Jan. 3.
  • 1,132 families have been housed through the direct housing program; 249 additional housing units are ready for occupancy; 39 units are in the process of electric hookup, the final stage prior to move-in.
  • The GLO is rolling out the Partial Repair and Essential Power for Sheltering, or PREPS, program. To date, FEMA has provided the GLO with a list of 75,477 applicants who may be eligible. The GLO has called more than 42,000 of the applicants and sent an opt-in email to more than 11,000 who provided email addresses. At this time, more than 6,700 applicants have expressed interest in the program, more than 1,600 have signed right-of-entry forms allowing contractors to inspect their properties, and nearly 600 work orders have been issued with repairs underway.
  • More than 1,000 applicants who are potentially eligible for FEMA’s Direct Assistance for Limited Home Repair, or DALHR, program have been reached, and more than 300 inspections have been completed. FEMA has approved 66 of the interested applicants, and 24 applicants have signed contracts agreeing to proceed and have repairs currently taking place. More than 60 percent of eligible applicants who decline to participate do so because they do not wish to use construction-grade materials in their homes. On Thursday, FEMA provided the GLO with a list of 1,800 new names of individuals who may be eligible for the DALHR program; the GLO has begun outreach efforts to these homeowners.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • For pictures of move-in days and updates on the housing recovery progress, follow



  • The Texas Education Agency notified districts in the Hurricane Harvey Federal Disaster area that Community Development Block Grants will be made available in early 2018.

Texans Helping Texans

  • More than 3.3 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.