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Abbott puts Bush in charge of disaster mitigation effort

TEXAS PRESS ASSOCIATION AUSTIN — A plan is afoot for large-scale, regional projects to improve the state’s resilience to hurricanes and other natural disasters, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Oct. 4. Abbott tapped Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush to lead the federally funded $4 billion-plus "comprehensive mitigation" effort. Funding will come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under a community development block grant. “Today we are pushing forward with the single-largest mitigation program our state has ever seen," Abbott said. "Commissioner Bush and I are committed to working together in partnership with HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management to maximize the impact of this funding." HUD on Aug. 23 released mandatory rules for the use of more than $4.3 billion in congressionally appropriated funding to be administered by the Texas General Land Office. Funding has been earmarked for projects as follows: — $4,074,456,000 for Hurricane Harvey; — $169,748,000 for 2016 floods; and — $52,985,000 for 2015 floods. The overall total includes certain funds for 2015 floods to be allocated directly by HUD to — City of Houston, $61,884,000; and — City of San Marcos, $24,012,000. Federal disaster declared The White House on Oct. 4 ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts in Texas counties affected by Tropical Storm Imelda from Sept. 17 to Sep. 23. The disaster declaration makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Chambers, Harris, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery and Orange. Assistance may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard-mitigation measures statewide. Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments, according to a White House news release. When Gov. Abbott requested the presidential disaster declaration on Oct. 1, he said, “The recent severe weather in the Gulf Coast region has impacted thousands of Texans, leaving many without the resources they need to recover.” Revenue inches higher Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Oct. 2 announced state sales tax revenue totaled $2.74 billion in September, an amount 1.2 percent more than the amount reported for the month of September 2018. “State sales ...

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