Together, we are going to recover and rebuild

Published 7:14 am Saturday, September 9, 2017

By George P. Bush, Commissioner, Texas General Land Office

The world witnessed the Texas coast take the full force of one of the most powerful hurricanes in our history. We witnessed our fellow Texans stranded by catastrophic flooding in areas without electricity or clean water. We are only in the early stages of discovering the full impact of the storm. Those who live along the coast know the level of destruction that a storm like this brings – and the damage is personal.

Today Texas is facing one of the longest and most difficult recoveries in our state’s history. The feeling of uncertainty is unimaginable to those who have never experienced it. But they are not alone. We are in this for the long haul.

Recovery from a natural disaster requires long-term planning and coordination. And that’s where the Texas General Land Office (GLO) helps out.

While the GLO’s Coastal Resources and Oil Spill Prevention and Response teams are conducting debris cleanup and removing derelict vessels that have clogged Texas’ waters along the coast, our Community Development and Revitalization team is focused on the long-term disaster recovery. We are working with local communities to spread the word about documenting and reporting Hurricane Harvey impacts. Our mission is to make the transition from short-term to long-term recovery and community revitalization seamless.

I continue to talk with Governor Greg Abbott, our state agency partners, members of the Texas Congressional Delegation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Homeland Security to ensure our great state gets this critical funding to meet needs resulting from this disaster. For these efforts to be successful, we need the help of those who are working in the communities.

As FEMA assessments continue, we must report the damage and needs of your community. We are hopeful that Congress will make a special appropriation for Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds. Thorough documentation by those in communities affected by Hurricane Harvey will not only help you receive short-term funds through FEMA and other sources, but may also play a role in determining how much money the state receives through appropriations for long-term recovery efforts.

If previous disasters in Texas are an indicator, recovery from Hurricane Harvey will be a long and arduous process, potentially taking over a decade to complete. My GLO team members and I are committed to working with you and for you throughout this process, revitalizing communities and building back a stronger Texas coast. We are in this together. Together, we are going to recover and rebuild.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush was born in Houston and now oversees coastal protection and manages long-term recovery efforts from natural disasters including hurricanes and floods.