AUSTIN, Texas (Nexstar) — Texas hasn’t received payment from the more than $4 billion approved by Congress last year to help the state rebuild after Hurricane Harvey.  

At the moment, the partial federal shutdown makes a complicated matter even worse. The state has no way to apply for the money. Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush wrote a letter to Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney this week beseeching Mulvaney for help. Congress had appropriated the funds in February of 2018. 

“Since that time, the GLO (General Land Office) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have worked together to better define the meaning of mitigation,” Bush wrote. “The GLO has provided information to HUD on what type of mitigation projects would best serve those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. This collaboration was done in part to help expedite publication of the rules governing these funds in the Federal Register. Unfortunately, the publication of these rules has been considerably delayed. I am writing to ask you to please approve these rules for publication as soon as possible so we can get started on construction of vital infrastructure projects to protect Texans from the type of damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.” 

Commissioner Bush pointed out the 2019 hurricane season begins in six months and the state needs to get started on the projects soon. “We cannot afford to wait any longer,” he said. 

The damage from Hurricane Harvey is estimated at $113 billion. The Texas General Land Office estimates there is still an unmet need of $86 billion. 

In December, Gov. Greg Abbott’s Commission to Rebuild Texas released a report urging the state to prepare for future catastrophic storms, stemming from the lessons learned from Harvey. 

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, who chaired Commission to Rebuild Texas, outlined several of the recommendations detailed inside the report during a press conference that month, which includes forming an ongoing recovery task force, developing debris management procedures and creating a case management program at the state level to replace the federal version to better respond to individual needs. 

The report also recommends the Texas Division of Emergency Management be integrated into the emergency management functions currently performed by the Texas A&M University system. 

KXAN contacted both HUD and the Office of Management and Budget for statements but those requests for information were unanswered at the time of this report. A message on the HUD website read, “Due to the lapse in Congressional Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is closed.”