• 63°

Don’t delay: Move now to secure federal money

 

Plain weariness may prove to be the greatest threat for Port Arthur homeowners who need federal assistance to repair or rebuild after damages from Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey in 2017.

Applications will be made available Wednesday at the South East Texas Region Office in Beaumont, which opens this day, or online at http://recovery.texasgov/hap.

Next week, the “one-stop shop” in Port Arthur for securing recovery money will also open up — it’s the same pot of federal money in Beaumont — from Tuesday through Thursday at 501 Procter St. That office will remain open for an undetermined length of time.

Here’s why those opportunities are important for Port Arthur people right now: Aid will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible homeowners. If you snooze, you lose.

That doesn’t mean that that everyone who applies for federal help in Beaumont or Port Arthur or online will get what they need or even part of it. It does mean that chances may diminish if you don’t get there soon.

Most affected homeowners have waited 14 months for federal help, which is now so much closer. The state General Land Office is in charge of the doling-out-the-dollars program for the feds in Texas.

“We want people to get their paperwork together,” Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman said Tuesday. “It’s important that people fill out their application and get it to GLO.”

But Freeman concedes that some Port Arthur people have hung on so long they might be tiring. That would be a mistake.

“I know many of us are tired or frustrated from filling out so many applications for assistance and not much has happened,” the mayor said in a Facebook post. “But this application is one of the more important ones.”

That’s partly because our three-county region includes Hardin and Orange counties as well as Jefferson, and there were many flood victims here. They’ll carve up a $205 million pie, which won’t fill everyone’s need.

The Beaumont regional office, located at 505 Orleans St., will be open 8-6, Monday through Friday, and 10-2 Saturday. It is available to everyone in the three-county region — Greater Port Arthur people included.

The Port Arthur office will be open 9-4, Tuesday through Thursday, starting Tuesday.

Both places will be staffed with qualified, knowledgeable people who can help steer eligible applicants through the myriad federal assistance options. Not only is help on the way, it is here.

Buyouts? Rehabs? Reconstruction? There is so much to decide. That’s why Port Arthur area people would do well get the counsel of people who know this playing field.

Take the advice of Freeman and the City Council, who have provided an office for assistance as close as downtown. Don’t dally.

Your best chance might be here.