Where’s the money? Pence, Abbott, Perry give Harvey FEMA update

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas still has a long way to go in receiving the federal aid needed after Hurricane Harvey destroyed much of the coast.

Vice President Mike Pence gave an update to Texas leaders on the federal government’s continued response to Hurricane Harvey at the north Austin Federal Emergency Management Agency location. Gov. Greg Abbott, former governor and current Secretary of Energy Rick Perry attended with FEMA Director William “Brock” Long.

Pence is in Austin this week for the Republican Governors Association convention.

Vice President Pence said the administration promised “to keep our word to the people of this great state” that the federal government will get Texans the financial help they need.

But fulfilling that promise will take months to years after the storm ripped through southern Texas.

So far the administration has paid out $1.4 billion to individuals to rebuild, $4.4 billion to homes through the flood insurance program, $490 million to cities and counties, and have loaned businesses $2.3 billion. But the storm three months ago caused almost $200 billion in damage.

“Any time you face a long term recovery to a catastrophic disaster it’s never easy, it never moves as fast as we all want it to,” said Long.

The FEMA director says he’ll be taking stock of the need this week with Gov. Abbott’s staff.

Abbott said he’s expecting a letter from the Federal Office of Management and Budget this week that better describes how much money D.C. thinks Texas needs and then how much the state will be getting.

“We will be side by side with you until we finish the rebuilding process,” said Gov. Abbott.

Hurricane Harvey was the costliest tropical weather event in U.S. history, estimated to cause more than $200 billion in damage when it crashed into the Texas coast in August.

A month later, Congress passed a $15 billion FEMA relief package and President Donald Trump signed it. After that Abbott expressed disappointment at D.C. lumping in another $18 billion he requested for Texas with a $36.5 billion package that also included relief to Florida and Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Trump approved that package as well.

Vice President Pence, state and federal leaders did not take questions at the event.

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