Texas now asking for $750M in flood mitigation aid after recent backlash

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Thursday, May 27, 2021
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The county applied for $900 million and Houston asked for a similar amount. Now, neither will receive anything.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After major backlash, Texas is reversing its decision that left the city of Houston along with Harris County without any money for flood mitigation following Hurricane Harvey.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush took to Twitter Wednesday night and said he has asked the federal government for $750 million for flood mitigation projects related to Hurricane Harvey.

"I have heard the overwhelming concerns of Harris County regarding the mitigation funding competition," wrote Bush in a statement. "I am no stranger to standing with the people of Texas as we fight against the federal government. As such, I have directed the GLO to work around the federal government's regulations and allocate $750 million for mitigation efforts in Harris County."

Last week, Bush spoke with Eyewitness News and blamed Houston and Harris County for the fact that those two entities didn't receive any of the $1 billion in federal funds available to storm-damaged communities.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Harris County and Houston left out of $1 billion in flood mitigation aid

The GLO said that neither Harris County nor Houston's applications scored high enough on a 2019 system used to score each application and determine how funds will be allocated.

GLO said the formula tried to emphasize aid to low- to moderate-income communities and areas where the funds would help the most people. Both the city and the county said they felt the rules penalized dense, urban areas.

13 Investigates confirmed with the GLO and Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia that their applications were not selected.

The county applied for $900 million and Houston asked for a similar amount. Now, neither will receive anything. The Harris County Flood Control District also applied, but was not selected. Baytown, Pasadena, Jacinto City and Galena Park received a cumulative amount of $90 million in flood mitigation funds.

In Bush's tweet, he blamed Pres. Joe Biden saying, "the federal government's red tape requirements and complex regulations are a hallmark of President Biden's administration."

Meanwhile, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued the following statement on Wednesday.

"This week, our community stood united in outrage over the loss of vital Harvey mitigation funds intended to protect us from future storms. Republicans, Democrats, business leaders, and residents from every corner of our County came together to call for these desperately needed resources.I'm encouraged state officials have recognized the flaws in their process and Harris County's desperate need for certainty in receiving Harvey Mitigation funds. I support and continue to call for certainty in funding, but $750 million for Harris County is still a mere fraction of the $4.3 billion that the State received for flood mitigation after Hurricane Harvey and not enough to meet our needs.Harris County is the epicenter of our nation's energy infrastructure, home to nearly 5 million people, suffered over half of the damages and deaths from Hurricane Harvey, and continues to be too vulnerable to future flooding. That's why we need more funding and why we will continue working with leaders from around our County, GLO, and HUD to secure a fair allocation."

Mayor Sylvester Turner issued a statement as well.

"Houston and Harris County experienced 50% of the damages from Hurricane Harvey. These $4.2 Billion from HUD were intended to build infrastructure to mitigate the risk from future flooding. Harris County should receive $1 billion and the City of Houston should receive $1 billion.All Commissioner Bush has to do is amend his state plan to provide that direct allocation to the city of Houston and to Harris County."

13 Investigates: GLO to control Harvey recovery after Houston 'hindered' aid