State & Regional

Gov. Abbott confident Texas can handle hurricane season

AUSTIN - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says the state is prepared to respond if another hurricane like Hurricane Harvey were to hit the state.

"We are ready and we are taking steps on a daily basis to make sure we will be able to address any challenge coming our way," Abbott said.

On Wednesday, he joined a teleconference briefing with other state governors, President Donald Trump,

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and FEMA Administrator Brock Long to review the response to 2017 hurricane season to prepare for what could be ahead this year.
FEMA is currently working on a new strategy plan.

"They're working on building a culture of preparedness," Abbott said. "They're working to ready the nation for catastrophic disasters and they're working to reduce the complexity of FEMA, a goal that I'm sure everybody in America would agree with."

Abbott said FEMA will have staff pre-deployed to the state as soon as there are signs of another hurricane.

Groups like the Austin Disaster Relief Network are still assisting with Harvey recovery. So far, the organization has assisted more than 21,000 disaster survivors and has provided $9.5 million in disaster aid for both survivors and coordinating efforts.

"These communities are still hurting," associate director Stephen Brewer said. "The devastation that Harvey brought was enormous. The recovery will ultimately take years."

Right now, Austin Disaster Relief Network has 300 disaster cleanup kits ready to be deployed at a moment's notice and more than 100 additional ones will be prepared soon. One of the churches in its network is also assisting with creating 500 hygiene kits.

Brewer said Austin Disaster Relief Network focuses primarily on small and large-scale disasters within the greater Austin area since its network of churches are located within its surrounding counties but can deploy outside of the region when there's a need.

"We raise funds to put in the hands of survivors and immediate emergency needs they have with gift cards and other things, as well as the longer-term needs – first month's rent and deposit and support that survivors might find themselves faced with," he said.

Abbott says the state is working with local governments and encourages them to also take initiative in forming their own emergency plans.


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