Gov. Abbott signs multiple Harvey disaster relief and preparedness bills

Governor Abbott signs disaster relief and preparedness bills

Gov. Greg Abbott  signed into law Thursday several monumental bills related to disaster relief and preparedness in Texas.

As a result of Hurricane Harvey, Abbott made this issue an emergency legislative item this session, resulting in several bills intended to prepare the state for future disasters being passed. Additionally, the legislature voted to appropriate $3 billion in relief for Harvey-impacted areas from the Rainy Day Fund.

The bill signing was held at a Gallery Furniture location in Houston.

When Harvey hit Houston in August 2017, Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale opened two of his stores as shelter for Houstonians displaced by the storm.  McIngvale's company also deployed its largest moving truck to help rescue those displaced by flooding.

"Thanks to the work of the legislature, we are rebuilding Texas stronger and more resilient than ever," Abbott said. "In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we saw the unshakable spirit of the Lone Star State through the generosity of Texans helping their neighbors. These important pieces of legislation are a symbol of that spirit, as well as a sign of Texas' commitment to improving the way we respond to natural disasters."

House Bill 5 requires the Texas Division of Emergency Management to develop a catastrophic debris management plan and training and establishes a work group to make recommendations on how local governments and property owners’ associations can assist with recovery efforts. It also requires TDEM to develop a model contract for debris removal.

House Bill 7 requires the Office of the Governor to develop a list of waivers that could be implemented following a disaster and requires TDEM to develop a plan to assist local communities with disaster preparation contracts for services.

Senate Bill 6 requires TDEM to develop a disaster response model guide and a wet debris study group for local communities. SB 6 also creates a disaster recovery loan program within TDEM for communities that suffered significant infrastructure damage.

Senate Bill 7 establishes the framework for providing a total of $1.6 billion through the Texas Infrastructure Resilience Fund as matching funds available to those communities hardest hit by Harvey and through the Flood Infrastructure Fund for statewide infrastructure projects to mitigate future flooding events.

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