HOUSTON - Money everywhere, but not enough to spend. That's the sentiment many victims of Hurricane Harvey have echoed these 6 months, since the storm ravaged southeast Texas.
Perhaps government dollars will be flowing quicker, in the wake of Governor Abbott and Mayor Turner's announcement that there's now another billion available in the FEMA hazard mitigation funds.
"500 million of those dollars are available right now. And how quickly those dollars will be able to flow we're trying to work out the details on that. There's a conference call taking place as we speak,” said Mayor Turner in a press conference following City Council’s meeting.
Another 5 billion in FEMA dollars will be coming from community development block grants. The Texas General Land Office has to figure out how to distribute those.
”It was indicated by the governor yesterday that his hope was that those dollars could flow downward locally by the end of march, based on some subsequent conversations yesterday, I don't think that's going to happen, I think it's going to be many many months later,” Mayor Turner said.
Keep in mind, both the $1 billion and the $5 billion are for all of Texas to share, and a lot of Texas got hit hard by Harvey.
And then there's that 89 billion dollars in disaster relief congress passed last week. Texas will be sharing that money with other states hit last year by hurricanes Irma, Maria as well as the other natural disasters like wildfires.
All of this federal money, but so little of it available now... And hurricane season officially begins June 1st.
“When the next hurricane comes through, if we have not fully funded and taken care of the residents of Houston, I do not want them putting the blame on local government. Because it’s not us, the money’s in Washington, $12 billion of it is sitting in Austin, and we don’t need to be applying for no loans or no grants. We need to make it hole and take care of these families,” said Dwight Boykins, Houston City Councilman from District D.
To be fair, FEMA's numbers show the National Flood Insurance Program has paid $8.4 billion to Harvey victims, in Texas, as of February 13th. And overall in the State of Texas, survivors have received a total of $13 billion in state and federal disaster assistance.
And while more is coming every day, time is of the essence.