For Harvey Survivors, Relief Bills Can’t Pass Soon Enough

The Texas Senate is moving fast on bills that would draw $3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund for disaster relief and flood mitigation infrastructure. That’s scant comfort for people who’ve been stuck in toxic homes since September 2017.

By Andrew SchneiderMarch 15, 2019 12:44 pm,

From Houston Public Media:

In Austin, there are bills speeding through the Senate that promise to help victims of Hurricane Harvey and pay for projects to reduce flood damage in the future. This comes after Gov. Abbott made the issues “emergency items” for the 2019 Texas legislature.

Bills SB 6, SB 7, and SB 8 –which aim to help Texas plan for, pay for and respond to future natural disasters and handle continuing recovery from Hurricane Harvey– have been placed on the Senate’s intent calendar for Monday, March 18. SB 500, related to the supplemental budget, will go to a committee hearing in the House that same day.

But for Harvey’s victims, the help can’t come soon enough.

Alice Torres is tethered to an oxygen tank in her bedroom by a plastic hose. She and her 84-year-old mother, Dolores, have lived in their brick bungalow in Southeast Houston for more than 30 years. The house never flooded until the morning of Sunday, August 27, 2017.

“It was like a river in front,” Torres said. “I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness, I’d better go check the garage.’ The garage was already flooded. So by the time I went into the back bedroom to tell my mom we’re flooding, by the time we came back it was already up in the kitchen.”

Then the Torreses saw their dogs, Rayo and Samba, were trapped outside. They opened the door to save them, and the water rushed in, flooding the house to a depth of 3 feet. The water receded the next day, but their nightmare didn’t end. It had only begun.

“You name it, it’s happened,” Alice Torres said. “We flooded. We had insurance, and they didn’t come through like they were supposed to. Then FEMA denied us, because we had insurance.”

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