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Burden on applicant: Don’t miss storm aid


Public leaders from Jefferson County and nearby locales have not been remiss in waking up homeowners to the fact that Hurricane and Tropical Storm disaster recovery money may be within their ready reach.

In Port Arthur, the mayor and City Council have sounded the alarm — Fill out your application, now! — and provided a downtown office, where expert advice will help guide eligible homeowners through the disaster application process. There has been much clarity in that message.

That message was repeated this week, when Mayor Derrick Freeman and councilmembers Cal Jones and Harold Doucet showed up at a news event in Port Acres. There, state Land Commissioner George P. Bush hand delivered an application to homeowner Havalisia Owens, who has been living in a Federal Emergency Management trailer for oh-so-many months. Can we make things any easier for local people?

Moments before the others arrived at Owens’ home, Doucet was there, warning Owens that funds would go to eligible applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. You snooze, you lose. She wasn’t snoozing.

This application process may represent the best chance that Greater Port Arthur homeowners have to secure federal funds to offset their Hurricane and Tropical Storm damages. Those who have suffered and lamented their losses for 15 months since that punishing, record-breaking storm may have a remedy in their grasps. So grasp it! If you don’t, the next person will.

The necessary application is on the recovery website.

Local people can pick up applications at the following sites:

  • First City Building: 505 Orleans St., Beaumont, Texas, 77701; 8-6 Monday-Friday, 10-2 Saturday.
  • Rose Hill Acres Town Hall, 100 Jordan Road, Lumberton, Texas, 77657; 9-4, Wednesday-Thursday.
  • Alma M. Carpenter Public Library, 300 S. Ann St., Sour Lake, Texas, 77659; 9-4, Monday-Tuesday.
  • Port Arthur Economic Development Corp., 501 Procter St., Port Arthur, Texas, 77640; 9-4, Tuesday-Thursday.
  • Orange County Convention and Expo Center, 11475 FM 1442, Orange, Texas, 77630; 9-4, Tuesday-Thursday.

Through Thursday afternoon, 52 people had completed their applications and some 300 applications were in progress. That seems low, given that almost every resident in Port Arthur was adversely affected in some way by the storm. Most of the city was under water and as many as 80 percent of the buildings sustained some flooding.

Some flood victims had wind or flood insurance, some did not. The government cannot force a resident even in coastal town to buy insurance; for those who chose not to buy flood insurance, this may be their opportunity to recover their footing in rebuilding or repairing the home. We hope they take it.

But this is clear: Local people have an abundance of opportunity to learn about the government aid and to pursue it.

Snooze, you lose.

That will be no one’s fault but your own.