Sen. Cruz, Rep. Weber Lead Texas Delegation in FEMA Appeal on Imelda Funding

U.S. Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) and I, this week led a bipartisan letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urging FEMA to grant the State of Texas appeal for Public Assistance funding in order to support the Texas communities that suffered public infrastructure damage during Tropical Storm Imelda. The letter highlights the troublesome discrepancy between FEMA and local jurisdictions' preliminary damage assessments.

The letter was also signed by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Reps. John Carter (TX-31), Lance Gooden (TX-5), Pete Olson (TX-22), Ron Wright (TX-6), Michael McCaul (TX-10), Brian Babin (TX-36), Jodey Arrington (TX-19), Kay Granger (TX-12), Louie Gohmert (TX-1), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Bill Flores (TX-17), Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Roger Williams (TX-25), Kevin Brady (TX-8). Will Hurd (TX-23), Vicente Gonzalez Jr. (TX-15), Michael Cloud (TX-27), Mac Thornberry (TX-13), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Van Taylor (TX-3) Mike Conaway (TX-11), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Kenny Marchant (TX-24), Lizzie Fletcher (TX-7), Dan Crenshaw (TX-20), Eddie Johnson (TX-30), Filemon Vela (TX-34), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Al Green (TX-9), and Colin Allred (TX-32)

Full text of the letter may be viewed here and below.

March 11, 2020

The Honorable Peter Gaynor
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street, SW, 8th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20472

Dear Administrator Gaynor,

On February 14, 2020, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied Texas' request for Public Assistance to be added to the current major disaster declaration approved by President Trump for Tropical Storm Imelda on October 4, 2019. We write to urge FEMA to swiftly approve the state's appeal of the denial.

FEMA, the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), and the affected local jurisdictions conducted joint preliminary damage assessments (PDAs) to determine the extent of infrastructure damage produced by the storm. Many communities throughout Texas incurred significant disaster response and recovery costs responding to the storm. FEMA certified these costs at approximately $18 million, far short of the $125 million in costs identified by local jurisdictions.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has issued over $716.5 million for Imelda claims. Over $68.5 million in FEMA Individual Assistance (IA) has been paid with over $76.6 million in loans approved through the Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Assistance program. With over $860 million approved for individuals in Texas, the $18 million in public infrastructure damages certified by FEMA is inordinately low. This is only 2.1 percent of the combined costs for NFIP, IA, and SBA. Proportionately for Hurricane Harvey, PA is estimated to be 35 percent of the combined NFIP, IA, and SBA costs. We understand FEMA claims much of the locally identified $125 million in damages is negated through "obtain and maintain" requirements through NFIP. However, repeated requests for data to identify what public infrastructure is covered by NFIP's "obtain and maintain" requirements have gone unanswered. Meanwhile, the areas hard hit by Imelda, all declared in Hurricane Harvey as well, have been waiting five months for recovery assistance. We urge you to provide this data immediately.

Federal assistance is critically needed to help Texans repair public facilities and infrastructure damaged or destroyed by Imelda. We respectfully request your timely approval of the state's appeal. Thank you in advance for your prompt consideration.


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