Additional federal disaster relief aid is finally on the way to Texas. Nearly two months after the House passed a relief package, it was included in the Senate's two-year budget bill passed and signed into law by President Trump late last week. The final bill includes $89.3 billion for relief aid to Texas, Florida, California, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands--all affected by major storms or wildfires in recent months.
Local leaders applauded the bill's passage, but warn that much work still lies ahead. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he's concerned with how much of the funds will actually make it to Houston, since they’re being divvied up among multiple states and territories. "We have to continue to push to get as much of that $90 billion as possible," he told a news conference. In particular, Turner wants to see funding for flood mitigation projects like bayou improvements, a retention basin, and a third reservoir. "It's not just about putting people back in their homes, but it's giving them the assurance that things will be different, that we will at least work to mitigate the risk of flooding (in the future)."
Likewise, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is pleased with the federal funding, but cautions that it's only a start. "I think the Texas delegation did a good job of taking care of our needs," he tells KTRH. "But is it enough? No...so now we have to look to see what the state will do out of its rainy day fund, and ultimately we're going to end up having to have a bond election here to complete the task, because flood mitigation is job one here in Harris County." Emmett estimates it will cost about $200 million just to restore the county's infrastructure back to pre-Harvey condition.