The coast of Texas was devastated by Hurricane Harvey in late-August. There was historical damage across most of the coast. The local governments and residents in the affected areas banded together to begin cleaning up their homes and communities immediately after the storm. They continue to work diligently to this day. As we have seen from pictures and videos, the waters and land along the coast were plagued by debris. The cost and amount of manpower needed to clean and rebuild is quite costly.

The Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) estimates that over 25 million cubic yards of debris burdens our coast. To date, about 9.5 million cubic yards has been cleared. Removing this debris is costly. Unfortunately, the city and county governments in the disaster-declared areas are responsible for paying 10% of the cost to remove the debris.

Local leaders had the opportunity to express their community’s needs for help in an Appropriations hearing with the Texas House of Representatives recently in Corpus Christi. The efforts of the local leaders paid off. On November 9th, the Texas Legislature and the Comptroller announced an approval of $90 million from the Solid Waste Disposal Fees Account (also known as the General Revenue Account 5000). These funds are intended to alleviate part of the financial burden on our coastal communities and enable each of them to move forward in their plans to rebuild.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the TDEM will work together to administer these emergency funds. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided funding to the declared disaster-affected areas, as well. FEMA has also provided $478.2 million to help with recovery efforts. Texas leaders have also requested $61 billion dollars in emergency funding to assist with hurricane recovery, as well.

The waters in the Coastal Bend also suffered damage from debris. There was nearly 700 crippled or completely sunken vessels and ships identified across the coast. The Texas General Land Office (GLO) worked diligently with the U.S. Coast Guard to clean up our harbors and wetlands. Most of the vessels have been salvaged or recovered. There has also been 57,000 gallons of oil and 8,200 pounds of hazardous material removed from our waters.

There is still work to be done to clean-up our coast. If you see debris on the beaches or in the bay, gulf, bayou, or river please document it (if possible) and report it to the GLO. You can submit photos or other documentation to Texas GLO.

There are resources still available for individual assistance for recovery and insurance. The FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are still up and running. These centers are designed to help you fill out the formal paperwork for Individual Assistance for FEMA and the Small Business Administration (SBA). You can find locations at Disaster Recovery Centers. If you have questions about insurance claims for settlements or need to report suspected insurance fraud, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) can be reached at 800-252-3439.

Please note there are couple deadlines for applications for Individual Assistance approaching. The deadline to report property damage to the SBA is November 24th. The deadline to register with FEMA is November 30th.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672