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Hurricane Harvey in Legislation
Hurricane Harvey caused trillions of gallons of rainwater to drop on Texas, which caused widespread flooding. Many homes were destroyed by the flood waters and it was the most ever recorded amount of rain dropped by one storm in the United States. Many people had to leave their homes and many didn’t have viable drinking water. Hurricane Harvey was the second most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history behind Hurricane Katrina causing $125 billion in expenses. The citizens of Texas came in record numbers to rescued and support the communities that were affected. President Trump declared a major disaster which allowed many federal agencies to support Texas this included FEMA and the National Guard. Most of all the state legislation of Texas was tested to see how they would deal with the aftermath and are still helping the communities cope with this disaster to this day.
On August 23, 2017, Governor Abbott declared a disaster proclamation and has renewed the proclamation subsequently in each month since then. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the state approved a block grant of $5 billion which was split into two parts. $2.7 billion of the funding when to areas outside of Houston and the rest of the funding went to the Houston area. In fact, even recently in May 2019, Governor Greg Abbott renew the hurricane disaster proclamation for the 60 counties that are still dealing with the effects of Harvey. He extended it with the authority of Section 418.014 in the Texas Government Code. He also authorized the use of available, necessary resources to deal with disaster and suspended statutes and rules that would hinder or delay actions to help during the rest of the disaster. He used his authority and sections 418.017 and 418.016, respectively.
After Hurricane Harvey, the Texas House of Representatives wanted to increase disaster recovery efforts, and agreed to allocate $1.6 billion for future flood planning and flood prevention infrastructure projects. Representatives Steve Toth said, ”This legislation not only enables us to rebuild but also enables us to mitigate future disasters.” Governor Abbott was very happy with the work that was done saying “Texas is going to be better because of the laws that we enacted this session in the Texas Legislature.” The Texas Senate approved 1.8 billion in disaster relief for Hurricane Harvey that would be used to strengthen the areas affected against future disasters. The Texas Senate voted 31-0 to approve three disaster recovery bills in response to Hurricane Harvey. They approved senate bills 6, 7, and 8. Senate Bill 6 created a manual of how communities should respond during disasters and how to train local emergency management directors. Senate Bill 7 created a state matching grant fund for financing recovery efforts and a statewide flood plan; they get the money from the state’s “rainy day” fund. Senate Bill 8 created a statewide flood plan in case something like this happens again. With the help of volunteers and the federal government, the state of Texas was able to provide a record amount of disaster relief and recovery. Overall, the Texas legislature has finally decided on a plan for Harvey funding and future disaster relief funding.
- Abbott, Greg. “Governor Greg Abbott Extended The State Disaster Declaration In May 2019 For Texas Counties Affected By Hurricane Harvey.” Office of the Governor | Greg Abbott, 7 May 2019, gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-greg-abbott-extended-the-state-disaster-declaration-in-may-2019-for-texas-counties-affected-by-hurricane-harvey.
- Collier, Kiah. “Texas Senate Leaders Unveil $1.8 Billion Package of Disaster Relief Bills.” The Texas Tribune, Texas Tribune, 6 Mar. 2019, www.texastribune.org/2019/03/06/hurricane-harvey-texas-senate-billion-disaster-relief-bills/.
- Executive Order RP-79, Executive Order Archives, https://lrl.texas.gov/scanned/govdocs/Rick%20Perry/2014/RP-79.pdf
- Goudeau, Ashley. “Texas Senators Pass Disaster Recovery Bills in Wake of Hurricane Harvey.” KVUE, 20 Mar. 2019, www.kvue.com/article/news/texas-senators-pass-disaster-recovery-bills-in-wake-of-hurricane-harvey/269-dccb7e2e-05f5-4059-9c1c-4e8f340f87f0.
- “Governor Abbott Signs Disaster Relief And Preparedness Legislation Into Law.” Office of the Governor | Greg Abbott, 13 June 2019, gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-signs-disaster-relief-and-preparedness-legislation-into-law.
- Hewitt, George, and Steve Toth. “Texas House of Representatives.” Toth, Steve Member News Releases, 14 June 2019, house.texas.gov/news/press-releases/?id=7004.
- “Historic Disaster Response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas.” Historic Disaster Response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas | FEMA.gov, 22 Sept. 2017, www.fema.gov/news-release/2017/09/22/historic-disaster-response-hurricane-harvey-texas.
- Wallace, Jeremy. “Hurricane Harvey, Santa Fe, Sutherland Springs Kept 2019 Texas Legislature Grounded.” HoustonChronicle.com, Houston Chronicle, 26 May 2019, www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Hurricane-Harvey-Santa-Fe-Sutherland-Springs-13898306.php.
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