Rep. Cloud speaks on recovery

Tim Delaney photo U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud (left) chats with his aides Luis Buentello and Mark Longoria on Thursday, Oct. 3, in Refugio. Cloud talked about streamling the process FEMA uses to help hurricane recovery victims.

REFUGIO – U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud visited Refugio Thursday, Oct. 3, and talked about one of the main issues confronting the county and its neighbors – hurricane recovery.

“I am working with staff to work with communities, collecting stories with boots on the ground,” Cloud said.

“We’ve hired somebody. All he does is hurricane recovery. He covers all meetings he can be at,” Cloud said.

He said the recovery individual will monitor and track the process, and whenever he can, he will help to speed up the process.

Cloud also said he has talked with FEMA officials about how to streamline the process for recovery.

Cloud acknowledged the numerous FEMA trailers at Chase Field in Beeville.

He said the trailers are being sold. However, he said they should serve as FEMA agents’ housing instead of victim housing.

He noted it would be more economical to build houses for victims.

“It costs $250,000 for 18 months to store, place and transport the trailers,” he said.

Overall, the federal funds have been allocated to the Texas General Land Office to distribute.

“We’ve tried to localize decisions, having Texas manage the disbursement of funds,” he said.

Cloud said another issue is a matter of scale between rural entities and urban entities – where a $20,000 claim vs. a $20 million claim is required to go through the same process to get funded.

The smaller communities don’t have the staff and lobbyists like the larger communities, Cloud noted.

“For example, small towns are supposed to get three bids on projects. They can’t get them,” he said.

“It is a system of waste, fraud and abuse,” Cloud said.

“We need to bring pragmatics to the system,” he added.

“For us, hurricane recovery should be every day, every week, and funding at the state level needs to get out,” he said.

Tim Delaney is the Refugio editor at the  Advance-Guard Press and can be reached at 361-526-2397, or at refugio@mySouTex.com.