Texas’ vow to streamline aid, Harvey recovery backfires

Associated Press


After Hurricane Harvey hammered Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott pledged that the country’s largest conservative state would lead its own recovery, streamlining federal aid to storm victims while avoiding the staggering inefficiencies of earlier Washington-controlled disaster responses.

But rather than becoming a new model for disaster recovery, Texas’ efforts almost six months in often have been the opposite, slow to unfold and tangled with bureaucracy.

Harvey made landfall in late August, with 130-plus mph winds and torrential rainfall that forced nearly 780,000 Texans to evacuate. About 900,000 applied for government recovery assistance.

Since then, efforts to provide short-term housing for victims and emergency repairs to get people back in their damaged houses have lagged well behind earlier post-disaster efforts, an Associated Press analysis shows.

Federal records reveal that it took nearly four times as long to house people in trailers after Harvey as it did after Hurricane Katrina, whose chaotic aftermath became a national scandal. Repairs to houses are running months behind the pace after 2012’s Super Storm Sandy and lower-profile disasters such as Baton Rouge flooding in 2016.

Only 3,500 homes have been repaired in one Texas quick-fix program. A Government Accountability Office report showed nearly 19,000 fixed in New York during a shorter period after Sandy.

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