The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved $652 million in disaster aid for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts in Texas, Housing Secretary Ben Carson and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday.
The money is in addition to $5 billion in Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery aid the federal housing department already had approved for programs in Texas, officials said.
Carson and Abbott met in Washington mid-day, then made the announcement jointly during a telephone news conference.
“I know you agree that recovery can’t ever happen fast enough and these dollars take years to draw down, but HUD will do everything it can to make the process go smoothly,” Carson said.
Rules related to applying for and allocating the money would be published “in coming weeks,” Carson said.
The $652 million in additional support is designated for “unmet needs,” Carson and Abbott said.
The Texas General Land Office is the administrator of federal disaster recovery funds for Hurricane Harvey, to be managed locally by area councils like the Houston-Galveston Area Council, Abbott said.
“We have two goals,” Abbott said. “One, to help everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey to be able to rebuild. We’re assembling resources to get that job done.
“Second, we want to make sure we rebuild in ways such that the region will be better than before the storms hit.”
Both Abbott and Carson emphasized a need to reduce future flooding.
Abbott said rebuilding with resilience in mind will happen because of the vision of Carson and other members of the federal administration to “use effective hazard mitigation strategies to avoid floods like we saw in Houston, Beaumont and Orange County.”
Rules will be issued soon for mitigation programs, Abbott said.
“We have at the ready literally billions of dollars of funding, and we need applications for projects by local governments to get these projects done as quickly as possible,” he said.
“We want this to be the model for other communities to respond to disaster.”
A reporter asked whether the mitigation plans would take climate change into consideration.
Abbott replied that he will take every factor into consideration to make Texas as resilient as possible.
A reporter asked whether the secretary or the governor was concerned that disaster recovery money could be taken away for border security under President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency.
“These moneys are very carefully prescribed, so I wouldn’t worry about that,” Carson said.