Babin: We are in this together

Published 2:14 pm Wednesday, September 27, 2017

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


As part of a team effort between local, state and federal government, a Town Hall meeting hosted by Congressman Brian Babin was held on Friday night at the VFW Hall on 16th Street.

Babin told the near capacity attendance that the county was not alone.

“ We are in this together,” Babin said. “We have sent Washington DC folks spread across nine counties to help.”

On hand to answers the many questions citizens have wanted answered were FEMA, National Flood Program, SBA, Farm Department of Agriculture, American Red Cross, Health and Human Commission, Texas Workforce and USDA of Labor.

Majority of the questions were directed towards FEMA and SBA.

“I am proud to represent district 36,” Babin said. “It is good, hardworking people reaching out, helping each other while agencies were getting here.”

Babin described Harvey as the storm that came and would not leave like when the in-laws visit.

“I love my in-laws,” Babin added.

He also said he understand lives have been turned topsy turvy in the last weeks since the storm.

As of Thursday morning over 792,000 people have registered with FEMA. With 2,085 inspectors assigned to 200,000 homes, there have been significant delays in seeing a FEMA inspector.

“I understand it is frustrating,” Babin said. “We are working as hard as we can to hire more and get them in the field.”

One concern was the Oct. 24 deadline to register.

“Once registered, you are in line for an inspection,” a FEMA representative said. “We inspected a location in Orange County today and will open a DARC soon as well as add an additional mobile unit.”

Orange County Judge Stephen Brint Carlton confirmed he signed the lease on two locations, one in Orange and one in Vidor at 2 p.m. Friday.

“I understand it takes a day or two to set up once the lease is signed,” Carlton said.

Babin said originally FEMA wanted Orange County to share a DARC with Chambers County.

“I told them that was not going to work,” Babin said. “They wanted people from Orange to travel to Anahuac.”

Once one is registered with FEMA, the next step is to apply for a loan with SBA.

“Interest rates for a homeowner or renter is 1.75%, no closing costs, no points, and first payment is due in a year,” a SBA representative said. “Churches are also apply to apply for a loan at 2.5% interest rate.”

The loans are 30-year fixed rate.

One is not required to accept the loan once approved. However, once the decision has been determined on the loan, one may seek further assistance through FEMA for items not covered by the loan.

One does not have to wait for the inspectors to begin demolition or even repairs according to the FEMA representative.

“Document, document, document,” the FEMA representative said. “Rising a house or foundation work, we would need to talk first. But for drywall and other repairs, you do not need to wait as long as you document everything. Take pictures. We encourage you to remove wet materials from your homes.”

For those in need of shelter, it was suggested to visit the website

“If you are eligible for Transitional Sheltering Assistance, FEMA will pay for the cost to stay in certain hotels or motels for a limited period of time. Costs covered are for the cost of the room and taxes, and any other expenses are not included,” according to the website.

Individual assistance grant from FEMA is $33,300, but one must be registered with FEMA to qualify.

“Under and non-insured are first,” FEMA representative said. “There is rental assistance for one month, which can be extended.