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Houston’s Harvey ‘Recovery Czar’ Steps Down

Former Shell Oil President Marvin Odum was chosen for the volunteer position shortly after Hurricane Harvey.


Recovery Czar Marvin Odum.

Former Shell Oil President Marvin Odum is leaving his role as Houston's chief recovery officer, as the city transitions into its next phase of Hurricane Harvey recovery, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Wednesday.

Odum was selected for the volunteer position shortly after Hurricane Harvey. During his time as the "recovery czar," he helped establish a national rule that allow cities to count volunteer hours and donated materials towards FEMA fund matching.

"Throughout Marvin Odum's 15 months of service to the people of Houston without compensation, he combined grace, diplomacy and tenacity to wring disaster funding from the federal government, reform FEMA policies to our benefit and address the immediate grassroots-level needs of our neighbors whose lives were devastated by the floods," Mayor Turner said in a press release. "On behalf of all Houstonians, I offer him thanks and gratitude for his pivotal role in reviving our city and making it more resilient for the future."

Odum will be replaced by Stephen Costello, a former Houston City Council member who has been Houston's "flood czar" since 2016.

During Wednesday's City Council meeting, Odum presented a Harvey recovery progress report. Houston is expected to receive close to $1.17 billion in federal disaster relief in the next several weeks, which will move the city into the next phase of improving its readiness for future disasters.

"It's been an extraordinary privilege to serve the city, and it's been inspiring to see the community rally around the mayor's call to ‘build forward, not just build back,' " Odum said.

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