Commission To Rebuild Texas Update: Issue 2
The true strength of the Lone Star State is found in our people. In the Rockport-Fulton area along the Texas Gulf Coast on the morning after Harvey’s first direct hit as a Category 4 hurricane, still-stunned residents gathered outside one of the local churches. Though faced with catastrophic damages to their own homes and businesses, they began to pick up every brick that had fallen from the church walls.
We will follow their example. We will rebuild Texas. Brick by brick. Family by family. Community by community. Even stronger than before.
– Governor Greg Abbott
Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas:
- Governor Abbott again extended the State Disaster Declaration for 30 days; 60 counties are currently eligible.
- Governor Abbott and Commissioner John Sharp visited Rockport with George Strait, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush to reaffirm the state’s commitment to rebuilding.
- Governor Abbott and Commissioner Bush joined HUD Secretary Ben Carson in touring housing development damage in Port Arthur.
- Commissioner Sharp held work sessions with local officials in Fort Bend County, Port Arthur, Harris County, Rockport and Victoria. Local officials were asked to provide a prioritized list of rebuilding projects as soon as possible. Commissioner Sharp also encouraged all officials and staff members to sign up for daily emails from RebuildTexas.Today.
- TxDOT has removed 432,000 cubic feet (8 football fields) of debris from city and county roadways.
- The Texas Department of State Health Services is coordinating mosquito spraying with FEMA and the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Approximately 6.03 million acres have been sprayed across the region.
- More than 770,000 individual assistance applications have been received by FEMA at DisasterAssistance.gov.
- More than $1 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 September 17.
- Thirty-three State of Texas/FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers are now open, offering in-person support to individuals and businesses. Added this week: Conroe, Houston, Humble, Jasper, Pasadena, Smithville and Sour Lake. Find a center: https://www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers
- Short-term food benefits for displaced families are available through the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP). www.hhs.texas.gov/d-snap
- Unemployment benefits for individuals who lost their jobs, are self-employed or no longer working as a direct result of the disaster are available through TWC. ui.texasworkforce.org or 1-800-939-6631
- Low-interest disaster loans to help businesses get back on track are available through SBA. https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance
- Agricultural producers can secure disaster assistance and low-interest loans through the USDA Farm Services Agency. https://www.fsa.usda.gov/
- Opportunities to assist school districts still in recovery can be found here: http://tea.texas.gov/harveyhelp/.
Cutting Red Tape:
- Hotel and motel taxes remain suspended for relief personnel and storm victims statewide through October 23.
- EPA approved a request from Governor Abbott and the Texas Water Development Board to speed funding to help local governments restore water and wastewater systems.
- IRS announced that 401(k)s and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans can make loans and hardship distributions to Hurricane Harvey victims. https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/help-for-victims-of-hurricane-harvey
Rebuild Texas Fund:
- Donations received by the Rebuild Texas Fund total $66.8 million as of September 22. RebuildTx.org.
“We are truly One Voice — working together to rebuild.” That message from Rockport Mayor C.J. Wax tops the detailed updates for the multi-jurisdictional rebuilding efforts in Rockport, Fulton and Aransas County posted on the Rockport-Fulton Chamber website on a nearly daily basis beginning the very day after Harvey made landfall. The Chamber also posts volunteer opportunities, a list of approved contractors and updates of businesses reopened. Though it is estimated that more than 85% of structures in the area were damaged and about a third of those destroyed, plans are already underway to host Seafair 2017 on October 12-15 at the Festival Grounds of Rockport Harbor to help boost morale and kick start the local economy. The people in our small Coastal Bend communities are rising above the storm as they always have — together. Check for updates here: www.rockport-fulton.org.