Six months later: Mayor Turner gives Harvey recovery update

Six months after Hurricane Harvey’s flooding wreaked havoc in Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner said recovery efforts have made a lot of progress but there is still much work to be done. That’s why the mayor has launched a new volunteer program called “Houston Still Needs You,” which pairs volunteers with relief agencies in need.

Turner highlighted several city achievements following the storm, which damaged 345,000 housing units in Houston and caused $2.5 billion in damage. So far, though, Turner said the only federal repair dollars they currently have are $424 million from FEMA for direct home repair programs.

“We don’t know of that 90 billion how much of that will be coming to Texas,” said Turner. “They did change the formula so that more of those dollars would be coming to the state of Texas. My hope is that what we don’t get from that 90 billion, the governor will tap the Rainy Day Fund.

Turner said it likely won’t be until after summer when Houston gets its share of a $5 billion grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that can be used to repair damaged homes, businesses and infrastructure. I

t’s unclear when or how much Houston and the rest of Texas will receive from $90 billion in federal disaster relief aid that Congress approved earlier this month to help those impacted not only by Harvey but by hurricanes Irma and Maria and the California wildfires.

Thousands of people still need help as they continue living either in hotels or in damaged homes, said Turner. He praised local efforts, including from nonprofit groups and residents, saying they’ve filled in some of the gaps as the city awaits additional state and federal funding for recovery efforts.

“While we acknowledge that we are making progress, we also want to be very clear the recovery is not happening fast enough for any of us,” Turner said.

As of Feb. 20, more than 3,420 households from Houston remain in hotels and thousands more are living in homes in dire need of repair, he said.

Turner also touted the efforts of volunteers and nonprofit groups who have helped in the recovery efforts, including with the cleaning out and repairing of homes.

“With the federal dollars coming slowly and people in need right now, but for the nonprofits and the volunteers, immediate needs would not be met,” Turner said.

Join the project at www.houstotx.gov/volunteer.