Congressman Ted Poe announced today that as a result of damage assessments in the Southeast Texas region, $20,154,000 in additional funding will be requested for the Sabine-Neches Waterway (SNWW) for hurricane recovery efforts. Congress has appropriated over $62 billion for hurricane relief after Katrina and Rita. However, about $40 billion remains unspent by FEMA. The White House submitted to Congress last Friday an updated third emergency supplemental request to reallocate $17 billion of this $40 billion to begin rebuilding critical infrastructure and to continue recovery efforts from the recent hurricanes. Of this $17 billion, $1.6 billion will go to the Army Corps of Engineers as part of their assessments of damage recovery after the storms.

Congressman Poe has been working extensively with the Army Corps of Engineers in the aftermath of both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to perform these assessments. I have long supported more money for the Corps of Engineers to operate and maintain the waterway sufficiently, said Poe. This critical funding will allow the Sabine-Neches Waterway to immediately begin the clean up and improve the flow of commerce which contributes greatly to the economy of Southeast Texas.

Damage assessed by Hurricane Katrina is estimated at $15,154,000, while damage from Hurricane Rita is estimated at $5,000,000. These funds will be used to dredge the waterway as a result of shoaling, which is caused when sand and dirt settles on the bottom of the channel; restricting traffic and creating unsafe conditions for navigation. A majority of this emergency money will be used to dredge the entrance channel and main channel where the waterway meets the Gulf of Mexico, which was severely damaged when Hurricane Rita came ashore. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, ships are having to utilize high tide periods to enter the channel because ships do not have the required 40 foot depth to navigate the channel.

Chris Fisher, Executive Director of the Port of Beaumont, expressed his gratitude of the efforts made to restore the SNWW. The Sabine-Neches Waterway has not been adequately funded for the last several years, and it is our understanding that the channel will now be restored to the depth that is required to handle the marine commerce that is vital to our region and to the nations defense. The Port of Beaumont is very grateful to Congressman Ted Poe for ensuring that the critical needs of maritime transportation in Southeast Texas are being met."

Raymond Russo, Program Manager for Civil Programs for the Army Corps of Engineers Southwestern Division also hailed the news, With the emergency supplemental request and the amounts appropriated for FY06, the Sabine-Neches Waterway will be dredged for navigation at its authorized project depth.

In addition to the $20,154,000 in emergency funding, the Sabine-Neches Waterway is also scheduled to receive $13,478,000 in federal funding in the normal annual appropriations for Fiscal Year 2006.