Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday met in Dickinson with city and county leaders, pledging continuous support in the area’s Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.
The meeting at Dickinson City Hall involved several state leaders, including General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. The group sat with city leaders of Dickinson, Friendswood and League City, as well as Galveston County Judge Mark Henry.
But at the end of the news conference, questions remained about when certain housing assistance programs would be implemented and how cities could move faster in removing debris.
“Let’s just face it, there are challenges,” Abbott said in a conference after the meeting. “The state of Texas is going to be here by their side, working with them every step of the way.”
Local officials had several questions about housing programs and debris removal, which the state will address in due time, said Abbott, who was in Dickinson as part of a three-day tour to meet with leaders of cities affected by Hurricane Harvey.
“We begin the process of providing answers and providing contact personnel; this involves follow-up on our part,” Abbott said. “We will stay continuously involved, working with the people of these three great communities as well as this outstanding county to ensure that we rebuild as quickly and as effectively as possible.”
At the news conference, Abbott confirmed the Texas Department of Transportation would be able to help with debris removal.
“We definitely can provide more resources,” Abbott said.
One of the biggest unanswered questions remains — when could communities expect the arrival of housing assistance programs? Such programs include the Partial Repair and Essential Power for Sheltering, which would provide minor housing repairs in areas where there are limited housing options.
The land office announced in late September it had reached a deal with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on the program. But the land office on Friday told The Daily News details of the program were still being worked out.
“We’re still under negotiation, putting some last-minute details on that program together,” Bush said.
Other housing options, such as mobile homes, will be delivered to the area sometime this month, Bush said.
“We’ll have assets delivered to Galveston County fairly shortly,” Bush said.
The meeting didn’t provide Henry all of the answers he had hoped for, he said.
“I’d like to walk out of this building and go tell people when they can start using these programs,” Henry said. “Without them saying the program’s in place now, I don’t feel reassured. I’d like better than that.”
Dickinson Mayor Julie Masters, who previously told The Daily News she was concerned about receiving direct funding from the state, said she’s still unclear how the money will come through.
In response to a question about how smaller cities would receive their share of money from the state, Abbott said funds would be allocated based on where the need is the greatest.
“The bulk of my time is spent in the smaller cities,” Abbott said. “I’m going to work to help my constituents.”
The meeting made Masters believe cities like Dickinson won’t be brushed to the side, she said.
“We had two historic events,” Masters said. “We had Harvey, and we had the governor in Dickinson, Texas. I don’t think they’re going to forget us.”