Locals Ask Feds For Ike Money

As they look for ways to pay for Hurricane Ike recovery, Houston’s and Galveston’s mayors today asked Congress to let them have some control over where federal relief dollars are spent. From Washington, Tanya Snyder reports.

Houston Mayor Bill White praised the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s improvements since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

“It’s a new FEMA.”

No matter how well the Feds do their job though, Mayor White said it makes sense to bring the money home.

“We are in a better position to administer things than anybody else. We are conservative in our finances, fiscally responsible, high degree of integrity in the way we conduct local government.”

Housing is still needed for people who were displaced from their homes, and nowhere is that need greater than in the island city of Galveston. Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas said she’s hoping to get enough money from Housing and Urban Development to rebuild, but right now, shelter is hard to come by.

“The entire west end, which is half the island, is completely inundated and probably won’t be back up for months.”

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst said Galveston hasn’t submitted their estimates yet, but even without them, the estimated reimbursement for direct costs for the state’s recovery is eleven-point-five billion dollars. And that’s not all.

“The second schedule we’re giving you today is the total economic impact by the state of Texas. We think that number will rise to approximately $35 billion.”

Congressmembers are working on a disaster recovery package and should vote on it before they leave for recess next week.

From Capitol News Connection, Tanya Snyder, KUHF-Houston Public Radio.