Rio Grande Valley Hurricane Relief Increased by $40M

January 27, 2009

Texas State Representative Veronica Gonzales (McAllen) announced the Rio Grande Valley is slated to receive $55 million in federal funding for Hurricane Dolly relief, nearly $40 million more than originally earmarked for the area.

The increase in hurricane relief funding comes weeks after Gonzales corresponded with Charlie Stone, executive director of the state Office of Community Rural Affairs (ORCA), asking the agency to reconsider its plan to distribute $1.3 billion in federal funding to areas affected by Hurricanes Ike and Dolly. The draft plan, released in late November, set aside a combined $15 million for the three Rio Grande Valley counties struck by Hurricane Dolly in July 2008.

Responding to the draft plan’s allocation for the Valley, Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas told area leaders that Hidalgo County alone suffered $230 million in county-estimated damages from the hurricane, which also devastated parts of Cameron and Willacy Counties. After meeting with Judge Salinas, Gonzales sent a letter to ORCA requesting the agency reconsider the funding distribution, pointing out that the plan designated nearly 20 percent of the money for administrative and planning costs that could better serve Hurricane victims. She also spoke with Stone to discuss the possibility of increasing the Valley’s portion of the funding.

The agency responded by reducing administration costs and transferring $100 million to hurricane relief. The revised funding plan adds nearly $59 million for Housing Tax Credits, and more than $41 million to hurricane damaged regions, of which the Rio Grande Valley will receive nearly $40 million.

“I am so pleased the Office of Community and Rural Affairs listened and reconsidered the amount of funds going to help Rio Grande Valley hurricane victims,” Gonzales said. “Instead of spending millions of tax-payer dollars for administrative costs, now the money will go to actually help Hurricane Dolly victims.”

Source: Texas House of Representatives,

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