Mr. Speaker, Hurricane Harvey hammered Houston last August, bringing with it a deluge of rain. In the nine months since then, Houston has begun to recover. Downtown Houston is full of students and workers of all ages, strolling the streets during their lunch break.
However, there is still lots to be done. Only minutes north of downtown Houston, Minute Maid Park, and the Toyota Center is Kashmere Gardens, a neighborhood that 10,000 Houstonians have called home.
Each street in this neighborhood has houses that are no longer habitable, with destroyed doors and gutted interiors. While the rest of Houston is flourishing, Kashmere Gardens is floundering. This is not due to the actions of any one agency, but rather the convoluted and bureaucratic disaster-response system that almost everyone agrees is failing to provide the necessary support in the wake of these disasters.
Federal recovery funding currently comes from 17 different federal agencies, including HUD and DHS, which oversees FEMA. We must streamline the recovery process for the sake of those who are impacted by disasters.
There are still Houstonians, including those in Kashmere Gardens, who are living in transitional housing because they are unable to navigate the government’s cumbersome disaster recovery efforts.
When someone’s home is destroyed in a hurricane, wildfire, or volcanic explosion, they should not have to spend months trying to discern their eligibility for federal disaster relief. They should be able to focus on rebuilding their home and their life.
Another hurricane season is just beginning, and it is expected to again be a season with above-average activity. We must learn from past disasters to better respond to disasters that are still to come.
And that’s just the way it is.