Disaster Preparedness and Recovery

Hurricane Harvey was one of the largest and most intense hurricanes to strike Texas, and recovery will be ongoing for years. The size and scope of this disaster shed light on the long-standing need for better coordination between federal, state, and local entities.

From hurricanes to wildfires, mother nature to man-made catastrophes, counties are the first responders when disaster strikes, and they are still there working to repair their communities long after state and federal authorities leave.

We can’t stop the next storm from happening, but with the lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey, we can be better prepared for any natural disaster.

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Additional Information

Watch this video about the role of the county judge in a disaster

Key Points

  • Emergency housing after disaster is essential. The state can prioritize addressing housing needs immediately after a storm, connecting residents with housing quickly, and prioritizing damage appraisal and grants or loans for housing for low to moderate income workers.
  • Debris removal is essential to securing communities. Counties often lack sufficient local reserves to adequately respond to this immediate need. A disaster reilef fund could provide immediate support to local entities, pre-qualify debris removal contractors, and pool debris removal assets to ensure proper allocation.
  • A strong state and local partnership saves time, money, and most important of all, lives. We need a streamlined system that cuts out bureaucratic hurdles, provides timely and accurate information, and empowers local communities.

Related Articles

Victoria County to apply to use $3.5 million for post-Harvey projects

Victoria Advocate, July 22, 2019

Victoria County is applying to receive $3.5 million in grants to help with drainage and road improvement projects related to damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. Victoria County commissioners Monday discussed an application to receive...

Fort Bend County cuts proposed bond down to $98.6 million, removing $100 million allotment for countywide flood projects

Community Impact, July 22, 2019

Fort Bend County has scaled back its proposed facilities bond a considerable amount. "Since the last workshop, I went back and took a fresh look at everything to see where I could find opportunities to tighten things down to feel better about the numbers,"...

Federal disaster declaration declared for RGV following June floods

CBS Austin, July 17, 2019

A federal disaster declaration has been declared for three Rio Grande Valley counties following the flooding last month. According to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, President Trump granted Governor Abbott’s request that will provide individual assistance for...

Rebuild Texas Fund donates $2.3 million to Crossroads organizations

Crossroads Today, July 16, 2019

In the month of June, the Rebuild Texas Fund awarded over two million dollars to organizations in the Crossroads to continue rebuilding following Hurricane Harvey...

FEMA grants $6.2 million to Houston for vehicle repair and replacement

740 KTRH, July 11, 2019

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded more than $6.2 million to the City of Houston for the repair and replacement of several city vehicles, fire department vehicles and equipment following Hurricane Harvey...

Travis County commissioners approve hiring consultant to review flood plain updates

Community Impact Newspaper, July 9, 2019

Travis County commissioners voted unanimously July 9 to hire a drainage consultant to help sidestep a lengthier and more costly Federal Emergency Management Agency approval process for changes made to the county’s 100-year flood plain...

Are you 'Texas Ready' for hurricanes and other natural disasters?

KENS5 July 8, 2019

These are the three simple steps that The Texas Department of State Health Services is encouraging the community to take part in to ensure preparation for a natural disaster...

Wichita Falls holds mitigation planning meeting

News Channel 6, July 8, 2019

Tornadoes, flooding and wildfires are all disasters that Wichita Falls has faced. The city’s emergency management is making plans on what to do in case natural disasters hit again. Every five years the city of Wichita Falls has to create a Mitigation Action Plan...

Gov. Abbott issues disaster declaration for flood-ravaged RGV counties

The Monitor, June 27, 2019

Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a state of disaster declaration for Rio Grande Valley communities that sustained significant flooding damage as a result of Monday night's thunderstorms. Abbott's declaration includes the counties of Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy...

Harris County enhances flood alert system

Community Impact Newspaper, June 19, 2019

Harris County residents can now receive location-specific electronic alerts about water levels and rainfall to prepare for potential flooding threats. The Harris County Flood Control District announced June 18 that it enhanced its Flood Warning Systems...

Commissioners talk home buyout program for Harvey-damaged homes

Victoria Advocate, June 17, 2019

Victoria County residents interested in selling their flood-prone and Harvey-damaged homes to the county can learn more about the program as early as this fall. County commissioners discussed the upcoming buyout program at their weekly meeting...

Senate bill trio could change the way Harris County approaches flood control

Community Impact Newspaper, June 13, 2019

A trio of bills aimed at mitigating flooding across Texas and disbursing funds throughout damage-stricken parts of the state have been signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The bills—Senate bills 6, 7 and 8—were written by lawmakers during the...

Local RGV leaders travel to Washington for flood relief funds

4 Valley Central, June 10, 2019

Most of the people who left Refugio County since the last census was taken in 2010 left after Hurricane Harvey. The county also lost twice as many housing units after Harvey than it did in the seven years that preceded the natural disaster, according to data the...

Texas governor extends disaster declaration for counties affected by Hurricane Harvey

KTRE 9, June 6, 2019

Several East Texas counties are now included in a state disaster declaration for counties impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Thursday's extension, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, now includes 30 additional counties. The original declaration was issued on...

Harris County extends Kingwood disaster recovery center to mid June

Houston Chronicle, June 5, 2019

The Harris County Housing and Community Resource Center has extended its disaster recovery center until June 15 at the Kingwood United Methodist Church. It provides resources for those who have been affected by floods in May...

County Talks Hurricane Harvey Disaster Recovery Funds

DeWitt County Today, June 4, 2019

At Wednesday’s DeWitt County Commissioners meeting, consideration regarding the application process for the County to receive hurricane disaster funding from the state took up the bulk of the time...

Six Texas Republicans oppose $19B disaster bill that pries loose $4B in overdue Hurricane Harvey aid

Dallas News, June 4, 2019

Six Texas Republicans opposed the $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that sailed through the House on Monday night — the package delayed by freshman Rep. Chip Roy of Austin in a move that caused an uproar last month...

Harris County Has More Than 50 Flood Control Projects Underway

Houston Public Media, May 30, 2019
They are part of the bond program voters approved last year. The county has launced an interactive website that includes detailed information about each project.


Census data shows Harvey's impact on Refugio County

Victoria Advocate, May 24, 2019

Most of the people who left Refugio County since the last census was taken in 2010 left after Hurricane Harvey. The county also lost twice as many housing units after Harvey than it did in the seven years that preceded the natural disaster, according to data the...

Despite challenges, Harris County to speed up flood projects

Community Impact Newspaper, May 23, 2019

As hurricane season returns to Texas in June, officials in Harris County are responding to increasing pressure from the public to get flood control projects underway faster while also navigating the challenges of trying to execute hundreds of projects at once...

Will Texas Legislators Pass Bill To Improve Resident's Flood Resiliency?

Texas Insider, May 21, 2019

With only days remaining in the 2019 Legislative Session, lawmakers in both the House & Senate are scrambling to make sure one of the state’s most important initiatives – legislation making Texas, its residents and its communities more flood-disaster ready...

Texas House passes bill to spend more than $3 billion to help pay for flood control projects

The Texas Tribune, May 16, 2019

Nearly two years after Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Texas coast, the Texas House approved legislation Thursday that would pull more than $3 billion from the state's rainy day fund to help pay for flood control projects statewide...

Llano County close to recouping money spent on flood cleanup

Daily Trib, Apr. 26, 2019

Llano County is gradually getting closer to recouping some of the nearly $1.1 million it spent since October 2018 on flood debris removal. County commissioners heard from the Texas Division of Emergency Management during their regular meeting April 22...

County to submit Bacliff projects for Harvey money

The Daily News, Apr. 21, 2019

Almost 20 months after Hurricane Harvey struck Galveston County, commissioners plan to ask the federal government to assist with repairs to streets and county buildings in Bacliff...

Abbott issues a state disaster declaration for counties affected by severe storm

The Eagle, Apr. 18, 2019

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a state disaster declaration on Wednesday for nine Texas counties — including Robertson, Leon and Madison — affected by last weekend’s severe weather. The declaration allows the use of available state resources to aid in response efforts...

House passes important bills; strengthens response, recovery

The Rockport Pilot, Apr. 17, 2019

More than a year and a half after Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas, killing dozens, the state is still waiting on billions in federal recovery dollars. In the meantime, Texas lawmakers are looking to prepare the state — the most disaster-prone in the nation — for future storms...

Texas Senate passes bill for automatic disaster reappraisal following major disasters

KVUE ABC, Apr. 16, 2019

The Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 1772 unanimously on Tuesday, which will help communities impacted by major disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey. SB 1772 makes it so an automatic disaster reappraisal can be triggered for impacted properties following a disaster...

Is Texas leading on disaster preparedness? Yes and no, experts say

Herald Democrat, Apr. 16, 2019

More than a year and a half after Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas, killing dozens, the state is still waiting on billions in federal recovery dollars. In the meantime, Texas lawmakers are looking to prepare the state — the most disaster-prone in the nation — for future storms...

Cornyn calls on OMB to stop stalling release of Harvey relief funds

Crossroads Today, Mar. 28, 2019

Thursday on the floor U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) discussed an amendment he's filed to the disaster supplemental appropriations bill that will force the Office of Management and Budget to release funds for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts...

Texas lawmakers aim to secure aid for Hurricane Harvey recovery

KXAN, Mar. 27, 2019

The Senate voted Tuesday to move forward on a $13.5 billion disaster relief bill for those affected by hurricans, wildfires and flooding — funding that was hung up by partisan disputes over Puerto Rico and additional aid for farmers...

Harvey bills get Senate approval

Fort Bend Star, Mar. 26, 2019

The Senate gave unanimous assent to a three-bill package of legislation Wednesday aimed at helping communities still dealing with the aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey and preparing the state for the next natural disaster...

86th Legislature: Senate passes Kolkhorst Hurricane Harvey legislation

Wharton Journal Spectator, Mar. 25, 2019

The Texas Senate has unanimously passed Senate Bill 6, priority Hurricane Harvey recovery legislation authored by Sen. Lois W. Kolkhorst (R-Brenham). The legislation was deemed an "emergency item" by Governor Greg Abbott in his State of the State...

Senate passes Hurricane Harvey legislation

The Bay City Tribune, Mar. 24, 2019

The Texas Senate has unanimously passed Senate Bill 6, priority Hurricane Harvey recovery legislation authored by Senator Lois W. Kolkhorst (R-Brenham). The legislation was deemed an "emergency item" by Governor Greg Abbott in his State of the State address, and now moves to the Texas House for final consideration...

Local Leaders, Emergency Responders Take Part in DFW's Largest-Ever Severe Weather Exercise

NBC DFW, Mar. 21, 2019

The start of spring also marks the beginning of severe weather season in Texas. To make sure they're prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws their way, cities across the Metroplex took part in the region's largest-ever severe weather exercise Thursday...

Texas Senate approves $1.8 billion package to assist with Harvey recovery, guard against future storms

The Texas Tribune, Mar. 20, 2019

The Texas Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved a bipartisan package of bills that would pull $1.8 billion from the state's rainy day fund to aid in Hurricane Harvey recovery and plan for and protect against future storms. The legislation was named a top priority by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick....

CMR. George P. Bush Announces Homeowner Reimbursement Program Office Locations in Advance of Application Release

Texas Insider, Mar. 11, 2019

Today Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced the locations of Homeowner Reimbursement Program regional offices in advance of the application release...

Senate rolls out new disaster response package

The Henderson News, Mar. 11, 2019

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and members of the Senate announced at a press conference Wednesday the filing of three bills aimed at helping communities recover from Hurricane Harvey and preparing...

County Hears Disaster Assistance Presentation From FEMA Officials

The Reporter, Mar. 11, 2019

The Hill County Commissioners' Court heard a presentation from state and federal officials regarding the county's disaster status due to last year's flooding Tuesday morning, March 5...

Disaster relief bills drafted in response to Hurricane Harvey up for public debate Monday

CBS Austin, Mar. 10, 2019

Texas senators will debate three bills disaster relief bills in response to Hurricane Harvey Monday. The storm was one of the costliest in U.S. history with the damage totaling $125 billion...

Chairman Morrison files HB 6 and HB 7 to improve Texas' emergency management functions

Crossroads Today, Mar. 6, 2019

State Representative Geanie W. Morrison filed two significant bills on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 to improve disaster preparation and recovery in Texas...

Dan Patrick backs spending $3 billion from rainy day fund for Harvey measures

Statesman, Mar. 6, 2019

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Wednesday endorsed spending $3 billion from the state rainy day fund to pay for Hurricane Harvey related measures...

Texas Senate leaders unveil $1.8 billion package of disaster relief bills

East Texas Matters, Mar. 6, 2019

More than a year and a half after Hurricane Harvey ravaged the state, Texas Senate leaders announced a $1.8 billion trio of disaster relief bills on Wednesday that they said would create "a roadmap to prepare our state for future hurricanes and natural disasters..."

County named in Trump disaster declaration

Sulphur Springs News Telegram, Feb. 28, 2019

On Monday, President Donald Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the state of Texas and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms and flooding from Sept. 10 to Nov. 2, 2018...

FEMA Grants $20 Million To DPS For Hurricane Harvey Aid

CBS 11 News, Feb. 25, 2019

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded more than $20 million to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) for providing safety, support and security to areas affected by Hurricane Harvey...

President Trump approves Texas disaster declaration

KXAN, Feb. 25, 2019

On Monday, President Donald Trump granted a request from Gov. Greg Abbott for a Presidential Disaster Declaration for 33 Texas counties, according to a release from Abbott's office...

Rebuild Texas offers $1.1M to Victoria County

Victoria Advocate, Feb. 15, 2019

Rebuild Texas Fund is committing $1.1 million to build a Victoria County Regional Disaster Response and Recovery Center designed to better prepare the Crossroads for its next disaster...

How will Texas help Harvey-ravaged communities?

Texas Tribune, Feb. 13, 2019

In September 2017, weeks after the remnants of Hurricane Harvey ravaged his city, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner sparked what became a high-profile spat with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott...

Federal funds awarded to Harris County for flood tunnel feasibility study

Community Impact Newspaper, Feb. 12, 2019

The Harris County Flood Control District was awarded funding for a feasibility study on building a flood tunnel. The U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded 2018 Disaster Supplemental funding of $320,000 to the district to conduct the...

Ted Cruz and Gov. Abbott urge administration to release billions for Hurrican Harvey

CBS Central

U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), Governor Greg Abbott, and Texas members of the U.S. House of Representatives today sent a letter to Acting Director Russ Vought of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) urging him to...

Rebuild Texas Fund announce $1.5 M in funding to help prepare communities for future hurricanes

Crossroads Today, Feb. 1, 2019

The Rebuild Texas Fund is announcing $1,500,000 in grant funding to help communities affected by Hurricane Harvey prepare for future hurricane seasons...

Governor, top Texans in Congress ask Trump not to raid Harvey aid for border wall

KVUE, Jan. 15, 2019

Nearly two-dozen high profile Texas officeholders sent President Trump a letter Tuesday imploring him not to use Hurricane Harvey relief funds to build a border wall...

The Long Road to Recovery

County.org, Oct. 1, 2018

First there was shock over the scope and intensity of Hurricane Harvey, a mega-storm unlike any seen in this state. Then came the valiant rescues and emergency operations...

Clerks Rushed to Reopen After Hurricane Harvey

County.org, May 1, 2018

As Hurricane Harvey came roaring toward the Texas Gulf Coast in late August 2017, word went out in Refugio County to evacuate. But County Clerk Ruby Garcia and her husband chose to hunker down at home because their dog gets carsick when he travels...

The Forgotten Devastation of Hurricane Harvey

Next City, Apr. 30, 2018

The smallish, three-bedroom, blue-green house in the middle of Port Aransas is rather ordinary. Built in the 1970s, the neighborhood a mix of RV trailers and palm trees, on a narrow street with no sidewalks...

Here's the Costly Price Tag of Hurricane Harvey Cleanup in Aransas County

Caller Times, Mar. 15, 2018

Henderson County officials are once again applying for an indigent defense grant to offset part of what the county spends for defendants who can't afford to hire their own attorneys...

Gov. Abbott extends disaster declaration for counties affected by Hurricane Harvey

Kiii.tv, Jan. 17, 2018

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott extended the State Disaster Declaration for 60 counties in Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey on Wednesday...