Governor Abbott details billions in disaster relief funding

Governor Greg Abbott gave more specific details on the billions of dollars in disaster relief funding that are on their way to the Houston area during a press conference Tuesday with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner at Houston City Hall.

Governor Abbott started the press conference saying the wait appears to have been worth it, because a lot of much needed disaster relief funding is finally on its way to Southeast Texas.

Governor Abbott says he expects $5 billion in Community Development Block Grants will be available for disaster relief in the Houston area by March. That money was appropriated by Congress last fall, and he says it will help get flood victims moved into new permanent homes.

That’s in addition to the $89 billion in congressional disaster relief funding passed last week.

He also highlighted a new source of funding: more than a billion dollars in hazard mitigation funds--part of which is available for use right away. That money is aimed at rebuilding in a way that protects people from disaster in the future.

Five-hundred million of those dollars are ready to be dispersed right now, according to the governor. He says starting Tuesday cities and counties can submit applications for projects to use those funds.

The rest will be available by August when the final amounts of individual and public assistance are calculated.

The governor spelled out what the funds that are available immediately can be used for.

“They can be used for a multitude of different purposes, including buyouts, elevations, drainage, and reservoir projects that eliminate future flooding, projects that lessen the frequency and severity of flooding, flood risk management projects like dams, retention bases, levies, flood walls, seawalls, jetties, sand dunes, and large scale channeling of water ways," said Abbott.

“The administration now must move as quickly as possible to insure these funds flow directly to local governments and where these dollars would have the most impact,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Gov. Abbott says this is the fastest Texas has ever dispersed hazard mitigation funds.

He said normally FEMA provides 75 percent of funding for approved disaster relief projects, and local governments cover costs for the other 25 percent. But this time around Congress and HUD are allowing federal funding to cover all 100 percent of those projects, saving local governments money.