Galveston Still Trying to Recover 2 Years After Ike

September 14, 2010

Hurricane Ike is long gone but hundreds of Galveston County residents are still waiting for funds earmarked for repair and reconstruction of homes damaged or destroyed by the disastrous storm.

Sept. 13 was the second anniversary of the storm that swamped parts of the island city.

Mayor Joe Jaworski joined about 300 people Sunday to dance at an intersection in The Strand historic district to celebrate recovery efforts.

“We don’t want to celebrate the storm, but we do want to celebrate the recovery,” said resident Kitty Allen, who organized the group dance. “I think it is real important to stop every now and again to celebrate our successes and we have been successful.”

The Galveston County Daily News reported that more than 200 homes in La Marque, Texas City and Hitchcock still need roof repairs, with blue tarps covering the residences.

Recent meetings with state housing authorities that are managing the federal disaster housing funds and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development should speed the process along, according to the mayor.

“Everybody understands that it’s this year that the money hits the ground and the hammers start swinging,” said Jaworski.

Overall, about $500 million in federal aid is waiting to be spent, amid changing rules and bureaucratic obstacles to the funding since the Sept. 13, 2008, hurricane. Agencies in the Houston and Galveston area will lose about $50 million in federal aid Sept. 30 unless a deadline to use the government funds is extended.

“We’re all on tender hooks right now and trying to figure out what to do and whether that extension will become real,” said Ellie Hanley, executive director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse House.

Recovery money earmarked for expansion of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston should result in construction by early 2011, said Jaworski.

The 5-mile-long Texas City dike, pounded by Ike, reopened over the weekend.

Information from: The Galveston County Daily News

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