Commission To Rebuild Texas Update: Issue 4
Day in and day out as our fellow Texans work to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey’s devastation, we are reminded that our lives are not measured by how we are challenged but by how we respond to those challenges. In our classrooms and communities, we are seeing challenges conquered through incredible teamwork. I appreciate the leadership of our congressional delegation in Washington, and the support of the Texas Legislature, as we work together to secure the necessary funding to help Texans rebuild their dreams and ensure the continuing economic preeminence of the Lone Star State.
The eyes of the nation and the world are on us. And Texas remains a beacon of opportunity.
– Governor Greg Abbott
Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas
- Governor Abbott joined U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and the Texas congressional delegation in a bipartisan request urging Senate and House Appropriations Committee leaders to include $18.7 billion in Harvey relief and recovery funding in the next Supplemental Appropriations bill.
- As the Commission continues working directly with all county judges and mayors to secure funding and resources requested by those local officials, Governor Abbott presented $50 million to the City of Houston to assist with urgent debris removal funding.
- Commissioner John Sharp testified before the Texas House Appropriations Committee charged with examining the use of federal funds by state agencies responding to Hurricane Harvey.
- TDEM set a deadline of 5 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2017, for all jurisdictions currently covered by the presidential disaster declaration to submit the Request for Public Assistance form required by FEMA. A separate Commission to Rebuild Texas Prioritized Project List survey was due to the Commission on Sept. 29, 2017. That Commission survey does not replace the requirement to submit an RPA form or any other paperwork required by FEMA, TDEM or the Texas General Land Office.
- TCEQ has made contact with 1,743 wastewater treatment plants in the impacted counties; of those, seven are inoperable. EPA and TCEQ assistance teams are working directly with system operators to expedite repairs.
- Urban Forest Strike Teams from Texas A&M Forest Service visited Rockport, Fulton, Refugio and Victoria to assess damage to trees on public property.
- The General Land Office is working with the U.S. Coast Guard to remove sunken vessels along the Gulf Coast after Harvey.
- With funding approved last legislative session, the Texas Water Development Board is preparing a statewide flood plan evaluating flood risks, detailing mitigation projects local governments want to pursue and recommending state funding or financing options. The board aims to complete the plan before the Legislature convenes in 2019
- 858,716 individual assistance applications have been received by FEMA at DisasterAssistance.gov.
- $3.1 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 Oct. 5.
- Just over 1,000 displaced Texans remain in seven shelters; 62,420 individuals are taking advantage of FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance by staying in hotels.
- More than 84,032 individuals have visited Disaster Recovery Centers for assistance; for current locations and mobile units visit fema.gov/DRC or download the FEMA app fema.gov/mobile-app.
- The Texas Department of Insurance Help Line can answer Texans’ insurance questions: 1-800-252-3439.
- FEMA is directing National Flood Insurance Program partners to provide advance payments on flood claims even before adjuster visits and to increase advance payments for policyholders who provide photos or video of flood damage along with receipts, canceled checks or contractor’s itemized estimate.
- The Red Cross has received $350 million in designated donations for Harvey as of Sept. 25. Learn more about how donations are helping in this video or in this report.
- Tasked by Governor Abbott to head the state's housing recovery efforts in coordination with FEMA, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush testified before the Texas House Urban Affairs Committee regarding short- and long-term housing needs and related issues resulting from Hurricane Harvey and associated flooding.
- As part of the General Land Office’s communications outreach to Texans in all impacted communities, radio interviews have aired in Orange, Wharton County and Liberty County to provide updates on the housing programs. Other interviews are scheduled for Columbus, LaGrange, Beaumont and more.
- GLO has also been in direct communication with Councils of Governments and local officials on next steps.
- www.TexasRebuilds.com is the housing information source for individuals and communities.
- In response to Governor Abbott’s charge directing Tri-Agency Partners to implement a workforce response supporting Harvey-impacted communities, Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Education Agency and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board leadership held regional meetings with Rockport, Port Aransas, Beaumont and Houston area stakeholders to identify strategies to quickly put Texans back to work.
- $2.1 million in Disaster Unemployment Assistance has been issued as of Oct. 5.
- The deadline for Disaster Unemployment Assistance in the 39 counties in the presidential disaster declaration is extended to Oct. 31, 2017, for disaster-affected individuals who may be eligible but have not yet applied. Call 800-939-6631.
- Since Labor Day, TWC has been open 7-days-a-week to assist individuals filing for disaster unemployment. Extended hours will remain Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., for as long as needed.
- SBA has opened five Business Recovery Centers in Aransas, Harris, Nueces, Fort Bend and Jefferson counties.
- Rebuild Texas Commissioner Sharp and Commissioner of Education Mike Morath sent school district leaders a letter seeking information about damages to facilities. TEA representatives serve as liaisons for districts on behalf of the Commission.
- Commissioner Morath testified before the House Appropriations Committee to provide an update on the potential financial impact of Hurricane Harvey to Texas public schools.
- TEA has filed a request with the Federal Communications Commission for relief from various E-rate rules and procedures on behalf of all school districts and charter schools affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Cutting Red Tape
- At the Governor’s direction, replacement fees are waived for copies of birth certificates for Texans impacted by Harvey. Apply by mail or in person at the DSHS Austin office. By mail: Indicate county of residence; write “Hurricane Harvey Relief” at the top of the application; include a copy of identification.
Rebuild Texas Fund
- Donations to the Rebuild Texas Fund total $70.7 million. The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, in collaboration with the OneStar Foundation, is leading the charge to raise $100 million to support organizations providing services in four areas: health and housing; schools and child care; workforce and transportation; and capital for rebuilding small businesses. RebuildTx.org.
No force of nature is more powerful than Texans helping Texans, and students in our classrooms today are learning important lessons about service to others. After four of the six campuses in Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD in Orange County were damaged by Hurricane Harvey, a different kind of flooding followed. A welcome flood of support. The students of Magnolia ISD, some 2 hours away in Montgomery County northwest of Houston, have adopted their “neighbors” and are raising funds to help Little Cypress-Mauriceville schools replace library books, band instruments, athletic uniforms, school supplies and more. As part of the Harvey Recovery Partnership, Magnolia ISD students are donating their own dollars, selling T-shirts, passing the helmet at football games, sharing proceeds from Homecoming and inviting participation from community organizations and businesses. What an incredible example by a district and community. Our schools teach more than academics, they are also developing well-rounded, civic-minded students who will be the leaders of Texas tomorrow.