Two tropical storms crossed over parts of the United States this past week. Remains of Tropical Storm Imelda hit Southeast Texas, dumping large amounts of rain on the region and claiming five lives. Widespread flooding was reported in many of the same areas hit by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Areas east of Houston experienced some of the worst flooding, with nearly 800 homes flooded in Chambers County alone.
Texas Governor Greg Abbot (R) issued a disaster declaration, but officials were surveying storm damage to determine whether the situation qualifies for FEMA relief. In order to qualify for FEMA Individual Assistance, there need to be 800 homes in the area that took in 18 inches or more of water and are not covered by insurance. Whether FEMA offers assistance or not will be crucial, especially to low-income families in the area.
Meanwhile in the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Karen crossed over Puerto Rico, bringing heavy rains and prompting flash flood warnings on the eastern section of the island. Hours before the storm’s landfall, Puerto Rico was rocked by a 6.0-magnitude earthquake. The earthquake was centered off-shore, and minor damage was reported on the western side of the island. The damage from Tropical Storm Karen was also relatively minor, although the Puerto Rico National Guard reported several emergency rescues and scores of individuals with homes still damaged from Hurricane Maria moved to designated shelters.
While both the storm and the earthquake cause relatively modest damage, they reinforce the need for HUD to release billions of dollars in federal disaster mitigation funding to the island. HUD continues to withhold these resources from Puerto Rico weeks after the statutory September 4 deadline. The NLIHC-led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition of over 800 national, state and local organizations has continued to request the prompt release of these desperately needed federal mitigation dollars.
Read a New York Times story on damage from Tropical Storm Imelda: https://nyti.ms/2kKvqPy
Read the DHRC’s statement on the missed statutory deadline: https://bit.ly/2lGFetF