Abbott goes to D.C. requesting funding to rebuild Texas
“This is not a closed book – this is a work in progress.” That is Gov. Greg Abbott’s take regarding ongoing state efforts to secure billions of additional federal dollars to help address damages and destruction left behind when Hurricane Harvey swept over parts of Texas in August.
At a press conference Wednesday, Abbott spoke of recent meetings in Washington, D.C., with officials of the Trump administration and the Texas congressional delegation. He and other Texas officials distributed copies of a list of needed replacement, rebuilding and reconstruction projects and their estimated costs that were assembled by the Commission to Rebuild Texas. The nearly 300 projects, amassed from submissions to the Commission by government entities in the storm-affected areas, carry a combined price tag of $61 billion. That’s a far cry from the $36.5 billion in disaster funding approved by Congress last month, and those funds were to be shared by other Harvey victims – Louisiana, Florida and Puerto Rico – and wildfire victims in California.
Hurricane Harvey will likely earn the dubious distinction of being named the costliest hurricane event in the history of the United States, with damages estimated at more than $190.8 billion. Abbott previously estimated that costs in Texas alone could be as high as $180 billion.
Abbott has met with Mick Mulvaney, director of the federal Office of Management and Budget, outlining what the governor called three concurring disasters – the hurricane event, followed by record flooding in the Houston area and “horrific” flooding in the Jefferson County area. He said the state is seeking funding for damages related to those events from multiple tranches of federal funds.
The governor pointed out that state officials and the Commission to Rebuild Texas received funding requests for “far more” than was submitted to federal officials. Projects submitted for funding were prioritized centered on a funding hierarchy based on need. He added that among the priorities considered were plans to rebuild in a way that will save lives and reduce problems going forward in any another similar disaster event.
Abbott has a second trip to D.C. on Nov. 13 to meet with federal officials again. “We have made it clear to the members of Congress that these are the items that have been identified to this point that need funding,” he said, adding that this week’s presentation will not be the final “ask” for funding.
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