AUSTIN, Texas — Southwood Crossing apartments in Port Arthur filled with up to 5 feet of water during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, resulting in mold growth at 102 units managed by the Port Arthur Housing Authority.
With no flood insurance to fund the remediation and rebuild, the Housing Authority turned to FEMA’s Public Assistance program, which provided grants and expertise to guide the projects.
“It’s a partnership between the applicant, the state and FEMA, and once everybody understands that and starts working together, I think it’s a beautiful thing,” said Deborah Sulzer, a New Orleans-based consultant working with the Housing Authority. “The things that I’ve seen come from the Public Assistance program have been just incredible, like goosebump kind of incredible.”
FEMA has provided about $3.6 million for mold remediation at Southwood Crossing and $5.6 million for other repairs and items. The grants cover 90% of the estimated projects’ cost and require a 10% nonfederal match.
The Public Assistance program provides project funding directly to the state for disbursement to applicants. The grant to the Housing Authority will be disbursed through the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM).
“We are happy to get this project underway and help people move back into their homes,” said TDEM Chief Nim Kidd.
“FEMA is going to help us maintain — retain this development in our control, so we can continue to reinvest in our community,” said Cele Quesada, executive director of the Housing Authority. “We’re hoping that as we proceed, we will be able to redevelop these units even nicer than they were to begin with.”
Some significant improvements to the units rely on steps being taken to make them more resilient.
“FEMA has a real strong desire to try to take measures that will prevent the same kind of damage from happening again,” Sulzer said. “There’s a whole science of hazard mitigation opportunities.”
FEMA’s Public Assistance program reimburses communities for actions taken in the immediate response to and during recovery from a disaster. Eligible applicants include states, federally recognized tribal governments, U.S. territories, local governments and certain private nonprofits.
For additional information on Hurricane Harvey and Texas recovery, visit the Hurricane Harvey disaster web page at www.fema.gov/disaster/4332, Facebook at www.facebook.com/FEMAHarvey, the FEMA Region 6 Twitter account at www.twitter.com/FEMARegion6 or the Texas Division of Emergency Management website at www.dps.texas.gov/dem.