Bush says city to benefit from federal relief

Published 11:33 am Thursday, May 3, 2018

By Ken Stickney


Land Commissioner George P. Bush said Wednesday many flood-affected Texans are repairing their homes and returning to them and that only about 2,000 Texans remain in Federal Emergency Management Agency transitional housing arrangements, perhaps 300 outside of Houston.

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He said Texas is seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel,” at least in that regard.

But Bush, charged with disbursing much of federal funding for Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey, is still reviewing local plans and said “the bill remains to be determined” for repair costs and how Harvey relief money will be divvied up.

Part of the reason he was in Port Arthur, he said, was to review this area’s post Harvey housing plans and to communicate with Mayor Derrick Freeman, who he said has emerged as “a statewide leader in Harvey recovery.”

Bush met at Port Arthur City Hall with Freeman, city and regional officials to talk about this city’s plans and promised “Port Arthur will benefit” from the $5 billion approved by Congress for Harvey relief. He also while the focus in on housing relief now, the focus will turn later to infrastructure needs. He said he was impressed with how Port Arthur has performed since Harvey destroyed or damaged some 80 percent of local housing last August.
The meeting lasted some 75 minutes. Bush said after the meeting that Port Arthur’s importance as an energy center and its strategic importance for national security are well known on state and national levels.

He noted that Harvey was the “most impactful storm” in history, which has complicated government response.

Freeman said later that Port Arthur is still trying to get people housed through new construction or through a variety of repair or buyout programs.

“We have the state’s attention,” Freeman said. “We have their ear. We look forward to a successful relationship with them.”

He said federal funding here would include regional dollars for homeowner assistance, buyouts and eventually for local infrastructure needs, which will include such things as roads, bridges and pipelines.

He said Bush was impressed that of the dozens of Southeast Texas counties he’s visited, Port Arthur was most prepared in its longterm vision for post-Harvey relief.