Community Spotlight on Brazos Bend State Park

“Human visitors welcome.”

Brazos Bend State Park, one of the largest in Texas, has re-opened for day use and camping thanks to the teamwork of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff.

With a new record set for floodwaters at 52.67 feet above sea level, most of the park in Fort Bend County was under water for nine days after Hurricane Harvey hit, and some areas remain closed due to damage. During the hurricane, Texas Game Wardens, State Park Police and K-9 units participated in heroic rescues and evacuations by boat, air and land.

Teams from Florida, Louisiana and Arkansas also assisted. A 60-person Texas Game Warden strike force was then sent to Florida to help during Hurricane Irma. Following the historic storm along the Texas Gulf Coast, families driven from their homes found temporary refuge in 37 state parks where entry fees and camping fees were waived for evacuees.

With rebuilding continuing, check the status of all state parks in Texas on this park alert status page.

Weekly Update #10

Amidst the challenges faced in communities across Texas these past few months, there have been small blessings from which we can gain strength—including a renewed sense of community. We now know the incalculable value of neighbors helping neighbors. And we have been reminded of how precious life is. In this season of sharing, I urge all Texans to reach out to their neighbors and invite them to share in the bounties of our great state—from the blessings of the land to those of the heart. The First Lady and I continue to keep all of the families impacted by Hurricane Harvey in our prayers. This Thanksgiving week and beyond, may you find moments to celebrate what is most special in your lives.

We are grateful to serve the people of this state. Together, we are Texas strong.

– Governor Greg Abbott

Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas

  • Governor Abbott and Rebuild Commissioner John Sharp traveled to Washington, D.C., for meetings with the Office of Budget and Management and the Texas Congressional delegation to discuss the state’s request for more and faster federal funding.
  • Governor Abbott was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and FEMA Administrator Brock Long as well as state and local officials at a briefing in Austin to discuss continuing coordination of federal and state rebuilding resources. The VP pledged the federal government’s continuing support, saying: “We are with you, Texas. We will stay with you. And we will be with you every step of the way.”
  • Governor Abbott and HUD Deputy Secretary Pamela Hughes Patenaude announced a $5.024 billion grant provided through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program to support the repair of damaged homes, businesses and critical infrastructure in the state. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush attended the announcement. The grant will be administered by the Texas General Land Office.
  • More than $490.3 million in Public Assistance funding from FEMA for state and local governments has been obligated, and 938 Requests for Public Assistance have been received from jurisdictions, as of Nov. 15.
  • The Commission held regional meetings in Beaumont, Sugar Land and Victoria along with representatives from FEMA, the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Texas General Land Office. Mayors, county judges and other local officials engaged with subject matter experts on public finance issues, debris management, housing, structural standards, workforce issues, and flood control, mitigation and land development. Meetings in two more regions are scheduled this month.
  • Because of the Commission staff’s daily outreach in impacted communities, as of Nov. 16, roughly 3,685 reports have been submitted from the field to the Assistance Center at Texas A&M. From those reports, the Assistance Center identified 623 issues needing follow-up or resolution; all are resolved.
  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed more price gouging lawsuits against businesses accused of taking advantage of Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey. In these cases, consumers were allegedly charged excessive prices for gasoline. After a state disaster has been declared, as Governor Abbott did on Aug. 23, Texas law prohibits selling necessities such as drinking water, food, medicine and fuel at an exorbitant or excessive price.
  • The Texas Health and Human Services Commission reports 670,000 calls received at 2-1-1 in the month following Hurricane Harvey. Trained specialists connected Texans with information and referrals for food assistance, shelter and housing, health services, counseling and more.
  • TDEM estimates nearly 10 million cubic yards of debris have been collected, about 37 percent of the anticipated total.

Individual Assistance

  • $8.73 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 Nov. 15.
  • 888,866 individual assistance applications have been received as of Nov. 15.
  • FEMA’s deadline to register for Individual Disaster Assistance is Nov. 30, 2017
  • Nearly 17,000 households are taking advantage of FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance, as of Nov. 16. Survivors staying in hotels under the program may be eligible to stay longer—the deadline is now Jan. 16, 2018.TSA guests will receive a phone call to let them know if they are eligible for the extension and what they need to do to remain at their current hotel or find a new hotel.
  • 184,930 individuals have visited Disaster Recovery Centers for assistance, as of Nov. 15; for current locations and mobile units visit fema.gov/DRC or download the FEMA app fema.gov/mobile-app.
  • FEMA has completed 568,535 inspections, as of Nov. 15.
  • The filing deadline for Small Business Administration loans for property damage is Nov. 24, 2017. The deadline to return economic injury applications is May 25, 2018. disasterloan.sba.gov/ela

Jobs

  • Workforce Solutions Offices statewide have enrolled 300 disaster-affected participants and placed 85 participants in temporary jobs as well as provided career services and training to nearly 300 individuals.
  • Texas Workforce Commission has allocated nearly $3 million in training grants to 12 community colleges in Harvey-impacted areas. Training will begin the last week of November for local demand occupations related to rebuilding, such as electrical technicians, OSHA Hazardous Materials certification, HVAC, mold remediation, carpentry, roofing and plumbing.
  • TWC has more than 12,000 disaster-related job openings available onHurricaneHarvey.jobs  and WorkInTexas.com.
  • TWC has identified more than 22,500 Hurricane Harvey impacted jobs seekers in WorkInTexas.com.

Housing

  • More than 660 manufactured housing units are being installed or have been turned over to displaced families through one of several FEMA-funded direct disaster housing programs being locally led and state managed by the Texas General Land Office.
  • Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and FEMA Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer John Long were in Rockport on Thursday to present the keys to a housing recipient for the 26th manufactured housing unit in Aransas County. Two more MHUs were completed later that day, and another seven are nearly complete, which will bring the total to 35 units in the county by the middle of next week.
  • Commissioner Bush then traveled to Victoria with FEMA representatives to meet with local leaders and provide an update on direct housing assistance.
  • 2,735 applicants are in the final stages of the direct disaster housing process.
  • Earlier in the week, Commissioner Bush announced completion of repairs on the home of the first recipients of the Direct Assistance for Limited Home Repair program in Dickinson. DALHR, one of five FEMA housing assistance programs, provides permanent repairs for homeowners with moderate damages who lack available housing resources.
  • The Texas General Land Office recovery team presented a new flag to a U.S. Navy veteran and his family to replace one destroyed during Hurricane Harvey.
  • TexasRebuilds.com is the housing information source for individuals and communities.

Schools

  • Commissioner of Education Mike Morath testified before the Texas House Public Education Committee on Nov. 14 on the impact of Hurricane Harvey to Texas public schools.
  • The deadline for all school districts and charter schools affected by Hurricane Harvey to apply for Federal Communications Commission E-rate funds to replace damaged equipment and services is Dec. 13, 2017.
  • A webinar recording is available with additional information concerning the hurricane relief orders for E-rate rules and procedures. The webinar explains who is eligible, how and when to file necessary forms, how Category 2 budgets are reset and other important information applicable to directly and indirectly impacted schools. To listen to the webinar, districts and charters will need to register and then logon to access the recording, slides and resources.

Texans Helping Texans

  • 24,618 Harvey survivors have called the Cleanup Assistance Hotline at 844-965-1386. Volunteer groups have completed 18,139 requests to muck and gut flood-damaged homes.
  • 51,268 volunteers have donated more than 3.2 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.
  • Rebuild Texas Fund totals $86.7 million: RebuildTx.org.

Governor Abbott Announces Extension Of Transitional Sheltering Assistance For Hurricane Victims

Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has granted Texas’ request to extend the deadline for Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) for victims of Hurricane Harvey. TSA helps displaced victims of the storm who are unable to return to their homes find short-term shelter in hotels or other temporary housing locations. The TSA deadline has been extended from November 28, 2017 to January 16, 2018.

“It is truly devastating that so many Texans are still unable to return to their homes because of this terrible storm,” said Governor Abbott. “While it is certainly not the same, I am hopeful that extending TSA for these victims will give them some solace as they continue the rebuilding process. I thank FEMA for their quick action in granting this request, and I remain committed to doing everything possible to get these families back under their own roofs.”

Nearly 17,000 households are taking advantage of FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance, as of Nov. 16.

HUD Provides $5 Billion To Help Texas Recover From Hurricane Harvey

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today awarded $5.024 billion to help hard-hit areas in the State of Texas to recover from Hurricane Harvey. The grant announced today by the Trump Administration is provided through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program and will support the repair of damaged homes, businesses and critical infrastructure in the State. HUD Deputy Secretary Pamela Hughes Patenaude and Governor Greg Abbott made the announcement today during a news conference in Austin.

“As President Trump has said from the beginning, the whole federal family is with the people of Texas to help them recover from this devastating storm as quickly as possible,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “HUD will work with Governor Abbott and his staff to do whatever is needed to rebuild damaged homes and to restore shuttered businesses in some of the hardest-hit areas of the State.”

Governor Abbott added, “The urgency with which our federal partners are addressing the needs of Texans following Harvey is exactly what is needed to help them rebuild their lives. I thank Secretary Carson, Deputy Secretary Patenaude, and the Trump Administration for working on behalf of Texans who have been hardest hit and in need of immediate aid. Our goal from the start has been to work in conjunction with federal and local leaders to help Texans repair and rebuild as quickly as possible, and this funding is a good start that brings us one step closer to achieving that goal.”

“Texans hit hardest by Hurricane Harvey face unprecedented hurdles as they rebuild their homes and businesses, and these funds will help them move forward after the storm,” said Sen. John Cornyn. “I’m grateful for the support Texas has received from Secretary Carson, and I look forward to continuing my work with Senator Cruz, the Texas delegation, and Governor Abbott to ensure Texans aren’t left behind.”

On September 8th, President Trump signed the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 and the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017.  The Act appropriated $7.4 billion in CDBG-DR funding for major disasters declared in calendar year 2017.  To distribute these funds, the Act requires HUD to direct the funds to the areas most impacted by qualifying disasters.  HUD will announce additional grants to other jurisdictions as more data become available on the unmet needs from other disasters such Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria and the California fires.

In making today’s allocation to the State of Texas, HUD relied upon information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) on the number of seriously damaged homes lacking adequate insurance and businesses that failed to qualify for SBA’s disaster loan program.  HUD’s analysis found over 230,000 homes with damage, approximately 65,000 of which had serious damage that is not covered by other sources.  More than 4,000 businesses similarly suffered serious damage from flooding that is not covered by insurance or other resources.  The grant announced today is designed to meet needs not being met by private insurance or other sources of Federal assistance.

CDBG-DR grants support a wide variety of activities including housing redevelopment, business assistance and infrastructure repair.   State and local governments are required to spend the majority of these recovery funds in “most impacted” areas as identified by HUD.  The CDBG-DR initiative is built upon the basic CDBG program, and HUD will shortly issue administrative guidelines for use of the funds that will increase grantees’ flexibility in addressing their long-term recovery needs.

Governor Abbott Urges Local Officials to Take Necessary Steps to Hasten Recovery Efforts

In a recent letter, Governor Greg Abbott encouraged local emergency management directors to exercise their ability to suspend codes and rules at the local level as necessary to help speed up the recovery from Hurricane Harvey.

He began by thanking the officials for their tireless efforts on behalf of their fellow Texans both before and after the storm.

“I write now to recommend that you use the authority granted to you, the emergency management director, by Section 418.1015 of the Texas Government Code, to suspend codes and rules on a local scale as appropriate and necessary to hasten recovery efforts,” Governor Abbott wrote. “While regulations for many state-licensed trades have already been streamlined statewide, there are many trades and practices that are regulated only at the local level.”

Governor Abbott closed his correspondence with the following reminder: “My office and the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas stand ready to help you in this endeavor and will be happy to review any requests to suspend additional state laws or rules that impede your local recovery efforts.”

You can read the full letter here:

Download (PDF, 77KB)

 

Commission to Rebuild Texas Holds Regional Meeting in Beaumont

The Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas on Wednesday held a regional meeting in Beaumont, Texas.

Representatives of the Commission, including officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), and the Texas General Land Office (GLO), participated along with other entities working on the state’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey.

At the meeting, mayors, county judges, and other local officials in attendance had the opportunity to engage in dialogue with subject matter experts on public finance issues, debris management, housing, structural standards, workforce issues, and flood control, mitigation, and land development.

“We’re focusing on bringing the best up-to-date information to the communities hurt by Harvey,” said Texas A&M University System Executive Vice Chancellor Billy Hamilton, who led the meeting on behalf of the Commission. “We are committed to do everything we can to help with the rebuilding process and to make sure our communities will be better able to deal with future storms.”

Earlier this week, the Commission held regional meetings in Victoria and Sugar Land. The Commission will be holding two additional regional meetings in Gulf Coast communities affected by Harvey in the month of November.