Above photo by Charlie Riedel for Houston Chronicle
Michelle Tremillo, the Texas Organizing Project’s Executive Director published an op-ed in The Hill this week decrying the long wait for Congress’ disaster aid package.
Within four days of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, President George W. Bush signed a $10.5 billion disaster recovery package, and several days later, Congress approved an additional $51.8 billion. After Hurricane Sandy in 2013, Congress passed $50.5 billion dollars in recovery funding three months after the storm struck.
FEMA tells us that nearly 900,000 Texans applied for emergency assistance after Harvey. To date, the agency has approved only 41 percent of applications with many applications denied in African-American and Latino neighborhoods. And while Congress did previously pass a small preliminary disaster package in September, the $7.9 billion appropriated for housing funding and other long-term assistance is still sitting at U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Hurricane season starts again June 1. Houston, Texas and the country must be prepared for future storms, while we rebuild stronger from the last one. As Washington is lurching from one self-made crisis to another, survivors of disasters continue to struggle with real ones.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, who is also the chairman of the Texas Freight Advisory Commission, joined the chorus of public officials calling for large-scale infrastructure projects post-Harvey. Speaking to the Texas House Transportation Committee on Wednesday, Emmett pushed for flood-proof freeways showing House members density maps of traffic on Houston’s freeways during the storm.