18 Months After The Storm, 55 Texas Counties Are Still Waiting For Harvey Recovery Money

Houston’s Mayor had asked Gov. Greg Abbott to tap the rainy day fund shortly after the storm, but Abbot told him to wait until the 2019 legislative session.

By Sara Schleede & Alexandra HartFebruary 14, 2019 1:45 pm, ,

A year-and-a-half after Hurricane Harvey, the biggest disaster in Texas history, thousands of Texans in some 55 counties are still waiting for the money needed for recovery.

In 2017, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner asked Gov. Greg Abbott to convene an emergency legislative session to get lawmakers’ approval to use rainy day fund money to pay for storm recovery. But Abbott told Turner to hold off until the 2019 legislative session. Now, with the legislature back in session, there are still no details about where the recovery money will come from.

Kiah Collier, an energy and environment reporter for the Texas Tribune, says the majority of money for Harvey recovery will come from the federal government. But she says Texas could also help further recovery efforts by appropriating money for things like school districts where the storm hit.

“Schools is the one that they’ve been talking about the most,” Collier says. “A lot of school districts like Rockport lost a ton of students, and with that per-student funding they lost a lot of property-tax revenue.”

Mayor Turner has also asked the state to match the funds coming from the federal government. Collier says often it’s required that local governments do this before municipalities can get access to the federal money.

“Turner’s argument is, ‘Look, we have dented economies, we’re having to deal with lots of other stuff. We could really use your help,'” Collier says. “They’re asking for about $1.3 billion for local match for all 55 Harvey-impacted counties … but there’s no commitment from the lieutenant governor, from the governor and from the speaker to do anything.”

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Written by Caroline Covington.