September 27, 2017
Healing from Harvey: FAQs and Moving Forward
 

Dear neighbor, 

Last week, my staff and I volunteered to help some of the hardest hit neighborhoods in Texas’ 7th Congressional District. Many of the Houstonians we spoke with had the same questions and concerns, so I wanted to share information that may be helpful as you begin to cleanup and rebuild.

My house flooded, what options are available for me?

Everyone that was impacted by the flooding from Hurricane Harvey should apply for FEMA disaster assistance. You can apply by calling 1-800-621-3362 or by visiting www.DisasterAssistance.gov by October 26, 2017. Once you apply, you will receive a call from a FEMA housing inspector. These inspectors carry photo identification and will have the FEMA registration number assigned to the home they are visiting. This inspection will help FEMA determine what federal aid is available to you.

FEMA will also determine how much you will receive under the Individuals and Households Program (IHP). IHP provides financial help, up to $33,000, for flood victims regardless of flood insurance status. Keep in mind, that the maximum grant is $33,000 and not all will qualify for the full amount.

For those that do not have flood insurance, the Small Business Administration offers loans up to $200,000. You can apply for the loan at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela

However, under current law, if you apply and are approved for a Small Business Administration loan, you are not eligible to receive federal grant money through the Community Disaster Block Grant program (CDGB). At this time, there is no guarantee that CDGB grants will be available for individual use. It is important that you and your family make the decisions that are best for your situation.

When will the debris be removed from my neighborhood?

If you are within Houston city limits, debris removal is handled by the City of Houston. If you have debris that needs to be removed, please call 311 to speak directly to the City of Houston. You can also visit the city’s website to report debris removal

If you reside in an unincorporated area, you can call the Harris County hotline at 713-274-3880 for debris removal information. In Harris County, a total of three debris pick-up passes are planned within the next 90-120 days.

Items should be separated into six piles: normal household trash, vegetative debris, construction debris, appliances, electronics and hazardous waste. If possible, debris should be away from fire hydrants, power lines, and mailboxes to ensure safe pickup.

I need help with my FEMA/SBA claim, where can I get it?

Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) are open throughout Harris County. These centers offer assistance in filing your SBA loan applications and FEMA disaster assistance claims. A current list of DRC’s can be found here: https://asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/home.htm.

Also, if you need assistance after filing your claim, please contact my district office at 713-682-8828. While my office cannot change the decisions made by FEMA or SBA, we can help you navigate through the process.

Should I repair or rebuild my home that was damaged?

Before making the decision to repair or rebuild your home, a City of Houston or Harris County engineer must provide you with the proper permit after assessing structural damage. Both entities have deployed teams of engineers to quickly assess and provide permits so that Houstonians can make decisions about their property in a timely manner.

You can assist the county in coordinating efforts by filling out the Flood Recovery Assessment Report on the Harris County Engineering Department's website here.

Congressman Culberson speaks with Congressman Kevin Brady and Speaker Ryan about the damage to Texas' 7th Congressional District.

Last week, Speaker Paul Ryan came to Houston to see the damage left behind by Hurricane Harvey firsthand. I joined him, along with the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Rodney Frelinghuysen, at a roundtable discussion to discuss what Texans need to begin repairing and rebuilding their homes.

Texas has received over $1 billion in federal funds for victims, but more funding is necessary to adequately address Houston’s needs. The Texas congressional delegation is united in their commitment to provide the resources our state and localities need to repair damage and improve flood infrastructure, so we can prevent a tragedy like this in the future.

My Texas colleagues and I have started a bipartisan working group to develop legislative solutions to address the current disaster recovery needs of Texas and look for future long-term solutions for Houston’s flooding. 

This working group will help write the second hurricane disaster funding bill that will be coming to the House floor in October. It’s important that this legislation include additional money to rebuild the Gulf Coast, and change current law to give Texans the ability to receive both SBA loans and CGDB grant funding at the same time. I recognize the financial burden that an SBA loan can put on families, so I want Texas families to be able to obtain grant funding that will not have to be paid back.  

I’m grateful to Speaker Ryan, Leader McCarthy and the other members that have visited Texas and heard the heartbreaking stories of those that have lost their homes in the flood waters. We are committed to making Texas and its residents whole again after this storm.

It is an honor and privilege to represent you and Texas in the United States House.

Sincerely,

John Culberson


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