A scant two months ago, Hurricane Harvey roared onto shore at Rockport on the way to ravaging the Texas Gulf Coast and inland areas from Houston to the Golden Triangle – becoming the nation’s costliest hurricane on record. The historic and catastrophic storm left behind a multi-billion-dollar trail of damages and destruction from flooding and high winds.
The remnants of the storm can still be seen in communities that stood in Harvey’s path. Now, those communities and Texas officials are seeking funding assistance from the federal government. Once the federal dollars start flowing, an abundance of contracting opportunities at all levels of government will be available. Private-sector companies willing to bring their experience and resources to the Texas Gulf Coast will be called on to contract with public-sector entities to help with the rebuilding of Texas.
Congress recently approved a hurricane-related disaster relief package of $36.5 billion, but those funds will be shared by Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, all victims of hurricanes during August, September and October, and for wildfire damages in other parts of the country. More funding will flow later.
The Trump administration asked affected states for detailed data on hurricane reconstruction and rebuilding costs – which federal budget officials said could be several tens of billions of dollars. Texas had already begun that process and on Tuesday, the Commission to Rebuild Texas released damage assessments from affected Texas communities and met with federal officials in Washington, D.C., to present a prioritized list of needs along with anticipated costs. Nearly 300 projects, most of them along the coast and in the Houston area where some areas received 50+ inches of rain, are part of the $61 billion that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is seeking for Harvey damages.
Texas public officials will contract with private firms that can help with the rebuilding and also help with future-proofing the work. Most of the prime contractors will seek local subcontractors.
Other broad-ranging projects will include rebuilding and improving public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, schools, government buildings and other public facilities.
One of the key projects related to mitigation of storm damages is a resiliency project called the “Ike Dike.” This $12 billion coastal spine project in Galveston County would provide a coastal barrier to protect the Houston and Galveston areas from future storm surge. In another project, the Harris County Flood Control District is seeking $20 million for emergency repairs and rehabilitation of federal flood control projects in Harris County damaged by storm flooding.
Public schools along the coast suffered millions of dollars in damages, mostly from flooding and high winds. Facilities were damaged or destroyed and equipment lost. The Houston Independent School District has requested $80 million for repair, replacement, transportation and risk mitigation projects. Thousands of dollars in floor repairs and replacement in the Hitchcock ISD are being sought, along with thousands more for HVAC repairs and repair or replacement of ceilings and roofs damaged by high winds and rain. Many school districts in the path of the storm also face replacement costs for flooded vehicles and IT system repairs and replacement.
City and county facilities also suffered devastating damages from Harvey. Many roads and bridges need repair or replacement. Many public buildings were also damaged by floodwaters and high winds. Water and wastewater facilities face replacement, rehabilitation or repair. The city of Anahuac lists the need for a new $17 million wastewater treatment plant to replace its current storm-damaged facility and $1.78 million to repair two city water lines that collapsed due to extreme inflow during the storm. The city of Freeport says it will take $6 million to rebuild its service center shop, $10 million to build a new Police Department Building and $8 million for a new fire station and Emergency Operations Center.
The Refugio County courthouse and ancillary buildings need $17.5 million in storm repairs. The county has also asked for $1 million to repair or replace damaged community centers and another $1 million to repair damaged county fairgrounds buildings.
Numerous parks and recreation areas also suffered damages from storm winds and floodwaters. Officials say $22 million is needed to clean up and repair many Harris County parks and to add enhancements that will mitigate storm damages in the future. Repair and cleanup needs at park facilities in Brazoria County total more than $3 million and the city of Ingleside has asked for $2.5 million to address parks’ building repairs and lighting needs.
Some public entities will also need to purchase equipment. Hardin County requested $8 million to replace fire apparatus and equipment lost in the floods, such as generators, LP tanks and more. Aransas County ISD is seeking $1.5 million to replace lost classroom and instructional supplies such as books and furniture.
This only represents a sampling of the projects that public officials have listed in their funding requests. Not all of the 282 projects will receive funding, but contracting opportunities as well as opportunities for collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors will still be abundant. Private-sector firms interested in government contracts should pay attention to what happens in the near future. Federal dollars are already flowing and timing is critical. Billions of dollars will be sent to Texas for the rebuilding efforts but the money will flow from many circuitous routes.
Click here for a more detailed accounting of the initial funding requests.