Texas is finally getting a larger share of federal dollars to recover from accepting evacuees from hurricane Katrina and to rebuild following hurricane Rita. Houston Public Radio’s Rod Rice reports that a member of the President’s cabinet came to Houston to make the announcement.
“I am pleased to announce that HUD will give more than $428 million in supplemental disaster funds to the state of Texas.”
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson says this is Texas’ share of the five point two billion dollars provided under the 2006 Emergency Hurricane Supplemental Appropriations Bill. Texas leaders at the local state and national level worked to get more money for Texas following what was seen as a paltry amount handed out late last year. Houston Mayor Bill White says he hopes this is a new beginning and that officials now know that recovery is not just about property, but also about people’s lives.
“We still have in our community 125 to a 150 thousand people that have lost their livelihoods, their homes and they don’t have a place to go back to.”
Authorities estimate that a quarter of a million Louisiana evacuees are still in Texas, with most in the Houston area.
Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams has been the state’s point man on hurricane recovery he says before any of this money can be spent HUD must approve it.
“We have given them ideas about how we would spend these dollars but we have to wait until we receive the direction from them, with regards to how we should put the plan together and submit the plan back to them, and I suspect that that will happen in very very short order.”
All the officials who gathered at the Eastwood Clinic on the city’s east side, said co-operation at all levels of government and across party lines helped to get Texas this additional federal money.