Put the Blame for Harvey Disaster Assistance Mess Where It Belongs – On Greg Abbott

Texas media is right to call out George P. Bush for his awful performance. But they should never forget where the buck stops and the blame begins – that’s with Greg Abbott.
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An excellent Texas Tribune report details the ongoing failure of Republican leaders in Austin to efficiently and effectively manage $4 billion in federal funds to help Texans whose property was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey way back in 2017. Nearly five years after the storm, Texans are still waiting for relief.

Greg Abbott is the head of Emergency Management response for our state. It’s Abbott’s duty to make sure Texans are safe and secure… before, during, and after a disaster.

Greg Abbott handpicked Land Commissioner George P. Bush to manage the $4 billion that congress sent Texas in disaster preparedness funding following Hurricane Harvey. He did so despite common knowledge in Texas political circles that Bush and his staff are subpar and have done a terrible job running the General Land Office since he got there.

So, What Happened?

Abbott has completely bungled the administration of the $4 billion in federal funds for Harvey recovery. Abbott and Bush steered hundreds of millions in aid disproportionately to affluent, inland counties at less risk of natural disasters, while cities like Houston have been hung out to dry.

Texas media is right to call out George P. Bush for his awful performance. But they should never forget where the buck stops and the blame begins – that’s with Greg Abbott.

Excerpts from Texas Tribune report:

  • “Congress gave $4.3 billion in disaster mitigation aid in response to the storm, as well as floods in 2015 and 2016. Of that total, Texas reserved $2.6 billion for preparedness projects in Harvey-damaged areas. Gov. Greg Abbott tapped Bush and the land office for the job.”
  • “After the land office awarded $1 billion of the aid last year, giving the city of Houston nothing, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development accused Bush’s office of discriminating against Black and Latino Texans. The land office had an opportunity to correct these inequities as it developed a new spending plan.”
  • “More than 300,000 homes in Texas were damaged by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, none were in Coryell County.  Nevertheless, Coryell is slated to receive $3.4 million under the plan by the Texas General Land Office and its commissioner, George P. Bush.”
  • “The agency’s revised plan will once again send a disproportionately high share of money to inland counties with lower risk of natural disasters.” 

An aside

Texas Republicans always make a mess of disaster funding:
Under GOP Governor Rick Perry, Texas was “the worst-performing state in the country on expenditure of funds and disaster money,” said Mercedes Márquez, the assistant secretary at HUD, which administers the program on the federal level. She said the way the money was managed was a mistake.

(Source: https://www.texastribune.org/2012/03/09/amid-finger-pointing-hurricane-relief-lags/)

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