Millions Awarded For Hurricane Relief

Important news for Deep East Texas cities and counties affected by Hurricane Rita.   A new round of funding was approved Wednesday morning in Austin. City mayors and county judges were expecting a battle on their hands, but the approval came with little discussion.

A live computer image of a Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs hearing in Austin provided the folks at home a view of funding bureaucracy. Luckily the rumor that the allocation of $12 million in Hurricane Rita relief funding would be tabled didn't come to fruition.   A quick motion allowed executive director of Deep East Texas Council of Governments Walter Diggles, along with mayors and judges representing devastated East Texas areas to come home with good news.

DETCOG board member Charles Simmons is delighted for his East Texas neighbors. "You know Jasper County, in particular, if they don't get some funding they're going to be bankrupt. They had to borrow a lot of money. They had an immediate need to give some relief to the citizens of their county. It looks like finally we're getting some attention down here," said Simmons.

Last week $6.7 million in housing funds were approved. Now 12 million is headed this way for the repair and replacement of community infrastructure.   Checks should be presented in the next sixty days.   By phone while waiting for a return flight Diggles said, "I expect quite a bit of rebuilding in the hardest hit areas. You'll see a lot of rebuilding in the areas of roads and bridges and some of the ditches that still have debris that need to be removed.. That will be some of the focus of most of the money." The funding will also be used to build shelters in Lufkin and Center to house future evacuees.

The region's allocation fell twenty million dollars short of its total request, so while the news was good, the battle for more funding will continue.