With the state legislature getting to work in Austin, local leaders are waiting to see how much, if any money lawmakers give the Coastal Bend for hurricane recovery.
“People really underestimate what happened, and think everything’s ok, it’s been over a year now and things are back to normal,” said Nueces County Commissioner Brent Chesney. “That’s not really the case.”
Chesney represents Port Aransas. He wants lawmakers to use part of the state’s $15 billion dollar “rainy day fund” on places like Port Aransas, still recovering from the storm. However, lawmakers are only allowed to spend half of the fund, further limiting available resources.
“It’s gonna be a matter of how you allocate these funds and what you do with them,” said Chesney. “Hopefully they’ll realize the most hard hit areas was Port Aransas, which is in Nueces County.”
In Port Aransas the main concern is housing; namely the lack of affordable options here since the hurricane.
“We need, somehow, to get people in houses,” said Port Aransas Mayor Charles Bujan.
Bujan estimates Port Aransas lost 350 homes to storm damage. That’s housing for roughly1,500 people, almost half the city’s population of 3,800. Bujan’s asking the state for $8-10 million to build new housing, but he knows there are no guarantees.
“We have programs in place that will allow us to compete for the monies that are there,” said Bujan.
Both Chesney and Bujan put their hopes in our local lawmakers like Rep. Todd Hunter and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst.
“Our representatives are well versed, they’re very powerful members of the legislature, and we’re counting on them to bring home some of that relief money,” said Chesney.
Bujan says most aid that went to Port Aransas came from FEMA and other federal agencies. He says the city only received $300,000 from the state, while other communities got millions.