Commission To Rebuild Texas Update: Issue 5

AUSTIN – In visiting this week with many of our smaller communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey, I am heartened by the progress being made. Texans remain resolute and united. Schools and businesses are reopening. And while the road ahead will be long as many survivors of the storm’s devastation are still facing seemingly impossible challenges, I am confident that Texas will emerge from this disaster stronger than ever before. I thank our local leaders for all they are doing to help their citizens recover even as they struggle to rebuild their own lives. These visits have resulted in closer coordination between state and local officials, and I want to assure every single Texan in these communities that they have no stronger champion.

Our priority in rebuilding is clear: We have a need for speed. And we will work by your side, for as long as it takes.

– Governor Greg Abbott

Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas

  • Governor Abbott visited 16 cities in three days in the Coastal Bend region and beyond, meeting with mayors, legislators, county judges and local officials to listen to their needs and discuss how the state can assist in ongoing recovery. Rebuild Texas Commissioner John Sharp accompanied the governor in Aransas Pass, Port Aransas, Rockport, Refugio, Port Lavaca, Victoria, Port Arthur, Mont Belvieu, Dayton, Kountze and Orange. They were joined by Land Commissioner George P. Bush in Sugar Land, Wharton, Bay City, Angleton and Dickinson.
  • Because of the Commission staff’s daily outreach, as of Oct. 13, more than 2,100 reports have been submitted from the field to the Assistance Center. From those reports, the Assistance Center identified 559 issues needing follow-up or resolution, and all but four have been resolved.
  • More than 6.5 million cubic yards of debris has been collected. One of the Commission’s primary focuses in recent weeks has been speeding up storm debris removal from affected communities. Whenever necessary, the Commission has intervened to improve the rate of collection. The Commission has identified trucks and other equipment to aid in the debris removal process and, upon request from local officials, will send additional equipment to help that community.
  • The Commission added a new password-protected page to RebuildTexas.Today and issued login information to local officials in the affected regions. This new function provides a portal for dissemination of important documents and information officials need for the recovery process.
  • Local jurisdictions must submit FEMA’s Request for Public Assistance form by 5 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2017, to obtain federal disaster grant assistance for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures and damaged public facilities.

Individual Assistance

  • 871,316 individual assistance applications have been received by FEMA at DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • $3.9 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. 12.
  • Just 733 displaced Texans remain in five shelters; 59,103 individuals are taking advantage of FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance by staying in hotels.
  • 106,710 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.
  • Disaster Survivor Assistance teams from FEMA have made 312,834 home visits to help survivors with FEMA registration and referral to community partners, faith-based groups and volunteer organizations.
  • Almost 3.5 million volunteer service hours have been recorded by Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster members.
    For DSNAP short-term food assistance application locations, visit texas.gov/services/financial/disaster-assistance/disaster-snap.

Housing

  • On Monday in Rockport, crews from the Texas General Land Office, which is leading the state’s effort to secure housing, began the installation of manufactured housing units. Utility connections, access decking and inspections must be completed before occupancy. To cut as much red tape as possible, the units were purchased by the state which will be later reimbursed by FEMA.
    Transitional Shelter Assistance, providing short-term hotel stays to displaced survivors, is extended until Oct. 24, 2017, to allow more time to look for an alternative place to live. go.usa.gov/xnx59
  • TexasRebuilds.com is the housing information source for individuals and communities. A Spanish-language version of the site launched this week, accessed by a selection button on the upper right of the home page.

Jobs

  • The Texas Workforce Commission reports $4.1 million in Disaster Unemployment Assistance has been issued to survivors as of Oct. 12.
  • TWC has extended the application deadline for Disaster Unemployment Assistance in 39 impacted counties listed below to Oct. 31, 2017, for disaster-affected individuals who may be eligible but have not yet applied. Call 800-939-6631.
  • Aransas, Austin County, Bastrop, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Lee, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Refugio, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Tyler, Victoria, Waller, Walker and Wharton counties.
  • In Caldwell and Grimes counties just added to the presidential disaster declaration, the deadline for Disaster Unemployment Assistance is Nov. 13, 2017. Call 800-939-6631.
  • The Texas Workforce Commission notified hundreds of vocational rehabilitation stakeholders about available funding to help replace durable medical equipment lost in the disaster and needed to support their employment.
  • TWC can also help individuals with disabilities locate vocational rehabilitation services needed to regain or retain employment. To find the nearest office: TWS-VRS office.
  • FEMA is hiring Texans as temporary local employees and Cadre of On-Call Response/Recovery Employees (CORE) to afford opportunities for survivors to help fellow survivors. Jobseekers should register at TWC’s WorkinTexas.com.

Schools

  • Texas is providing a funding boost to help schools and teachers affected by the storm. Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced certain school districts and charter schools are eligible for an adjustment to their average daily attendance funding, holding them harmless for funding losses from enrollment declines.
  • At the direction of Governor Abbott, the Texas Education Agency, Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute have formed the Hurricane Harvey Task Force on School Mental Health Supports to mobilize the statewide mental health response in Texas schools impacted by the hurricane. TEA has collaborated with state and federal agencies as well as local community organizations to create a compilation of mental health resources now posted at tea.texas.gov/Harvey_Recovery_MH/.
  • TEA has also launched a resource page for school districts with guidance on completing the Rebuild Texas Worksheet for prioritized federal funding requests: tea.texas.gov/Rebuild_Texas_Instructions/.

Rebuild Texas Fund

$2.15 million in first-round funding has been awarded by the Rebuild Texas Fund to 16 organizations working towards long-term rebuilding of Texas communities. Learn more: rebuildtx.org/projects

Community Spotlight

Victoria County: “Seeing the 101-year-old historic McFaddin church leaning sideways and inches from collapsing broke Mitchell Morrissey’s heart. With the help of Clegg Services and Galveston-based McMillan Building Movers, the McFaddin Ranch family is ensuring the church will survive. ‘I feel optimism for the first time since this storm,’ said Morrissey, whose great-great-great grandfather, James Alfred McFaddin, built the church in December 1915. ‘Now I see the windows squaring back up and the cracks filling back in as the building shifts back into the position it’s supposed to be in — first real glimpse of hope we’ve had out here.’” Read more here.

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