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How Will $1.1B for Hazard Mitigation Affect Texas Residents?

The state of Texas released an official announcement declaring that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has granted Texas $1.1 billion in hazard mitigation funds. This money is of significant help for Texas communities that need funding for building preventative measures against flooding. However, residents shouldn’t get their hopes up that this money will directly impact their Harvey situation. In fact, the grant’s stipulations may upset Texans who are waiting for FEMA insurance payments.

FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant

Texas’ City Councils are thrilled with the new FEMA hazard mitigation grant as $500,000,000 is already up for grabs. Communities all over the Coastal Bend can expect to receive money for projects that will aid in the mitigation of future flooding. City Councils can start to think through community projects that will use, “this finite pot of money…(to) get the biggest bang for buck,” as the head of the Texas Division of Emergency Management put it.

While the money is helpful, Texas cities cannot use the funds however they choose. If a city takes money for a project, the funding must be split 75-25. FEMA money can be used for 75% of the project, and the city must pitch in the remaining 25%. On top of the split, the grant has a few stipulations that outline where the federal money can be used.

The funding from FEMA’s hazard mitigation grant can be used for:

  • Buyouts of flooded structures
  • Elevation of structures above floodplains
  • Building of floodwalls, seawalls, jetties, sand dune restoration, and channels
  • Construction of storm surge protection projects

“The whole idea is to make the state…more resilient next time,” claimed the Texas State Governor.

Buyouts Are Unlikely

While the communities of Texas will be strengthed to fight off future flooding, this grant will do little to aid Texas residents who are currently in need. Buyouts and home elevations are the only projects that help individual Texans under the hazard mitigation grant. As noted above, authorities are interested in getting the most “bang for the buck,” and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on home buyouts that only help a handful of people is, unfortunately, not a city’s top priority.

Will buyouts happen? Absolutely, but the number of buyouts will be frustratingly low. In fact, research shows that only 3,100 properties have been bought out in Harris County since 1985. That number is fewer than half of the 6,300 homes that are currently on the district’s priority buyout list. Despite this, given the rate of buyouts, only 94 lucky individuals will have their homes purchased with FEMA’s hazard mitigation money. This leaves 6,206 homes still on the buyout list, waiting for funds that should have come ages ago.

Getting the Money That You Need Now

FEMA’s grant is a good thing and will help the Texans of tomorrow, but the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is run by FEMA, is still dragging its feet in paying out insurance claims that will help Texans today. If you are still waiting for NFIP, or other insurance carriers, to pay out your claim, do not hesitate to contact Arnold & Itkin. We can talk to you about your insurance situation and help answer any questions you have about receiving a payout for your claim.

Call (888) 400-2101 for a free consultation concerning your insurance case.