Hurricane recovery discussed at meeting
State Rep. J.M. Lozano and Rep. Todd Hunter hosted a town Hall Meeting at Gregory-Portland High School last and invited representatives from various government agencies to provide information about Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts and issues
Attendees included officials and other interested community members from Taft, Aransas Pass, Ingleside, Portland, San Patricio County, and Rockport and Fulton.
In welcoming those in attendance, Lozano pointed out while he was not born when Hurricane Celia hit Corpus Christi in 1970, those with experience from that storm have helped tremendously with Hurricane Harvey recovery. He said there have been many comparisons of Harvey to Celia.
He expressed gratitude there were only two fatalities during the storm, crediting the mandatory evacuation order which most residents heeded.
Referring to the aftermath of Harvey, Lozano emphasized nothing is perfect, and no recovery is perfect, however, government officials learned after Hurricane Katrina, some things needed to change.
Hunter said, “Let’s talk about how we’re coming back,” adding the goal is “to make sure we are not forgotten.”
He encouraged everyone present, “Let’s get up and show them who we are.”
Hunter expressed concern about education, adding, “No one is talking about our schools.” Through his efforts and calling the Texas Education Agency, a hotline was established so once parents were able to call, they could do so and ask questions bout their child’s educational needs.
The state representative also said, “We’ve got to be the leaders,” adding, “No one’s been through a catastrophe like this.”
Hunter asked, “Where do we go from here?,” answering his own question with, “Recover, and tell people we are going to recover.”
He encouraged those who have questions about education, to call the TEA hotline at 512-463-9603, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. including weekends. He also said one may to to the TEA website: tea.texas.gov and click on “frequently asked questions.”
Agencies represented and information they presented are as follows:
Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) – Jennifer Armstrong, vice president of communications and legislative affairs – Armstrong talked about TWIA’s catastrophe Response Plan, and pointed out HB 1774 does not apply to TWIA. She discussed what to expect when an adjuster visits, to not make permanent repairs before an adjuster sees damages, and what to expect after a claim is filed.
Office of Attorney General – Valeria Sartorio pointed out the AG’s office is to protect consumers and businesses. She encouraged going to texasattorneygeneral.gov and downloading the document titled emergencyhurricaneharvey for more information.
Texas Department of Insurance – Lt. David Taylor of the TDI fraud unit and John Plent with TDI consumer protection talked about the many ways consumers can be taken advantage of, and encouraged reporting fraud and price gouging by calling 1-800-621-0508. Their presentation was less than 10 minutes, during which they pointed out numerous ways in which consumers can be taken advantage of, explaining they are available to give longer, detailed presentations to help consumers.
County Judge Terry Simpson then gave a brief update about county efforts, during which he pointed “flyovers” for mosquito spraying will be taking place in San Patricio County.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality – Toby Baker explained their goal is to “get your life back to normal as quickly as possible.” He specifically deals with air emissions, debris management, and water issues.
AEP representative Ken Griffen gave an update as of Day 13 noting of 224,000 consumers who had been without power, 90 percent had been restored. Their goal was to be at 95 percent by Friday, Sept. 8 at 10 p.m. That included residents in Port Aransas, Rockport, Fulton, Aransas Pass, Ingleside, Refugio, Austwell Tivoli, and Victoria. To aid with that restoration, AEP deployed 5,300 resources from 100 different companies and with the team effort from counties, cities, and emergency centers. He said of 300 transformers, 200 were destroyed. A total of 68 substations were lost, and all but two have been restored.
At the end of the presentations, Lozano pointed out representatives from all the agencies would remain to speak with anyone who had questions.