tv FEMA in Houston CSPAN September 21, 2017 1:51pm-2:06pm EDT
right now we just actually starting the process. it hasn't been even a month since the hurricane happened. so our first priority is to make sure people are okay, that they find a safe place to stay and they feel comfort and then now that we are moving to a new shelter to try to help them to see -- to give them the time to find permanent accommodations. that's why we are given those $400. it is an immediate help. it is money they get right away. so that did help them with whatever incidentals they may have while they work with their insurance or family members or friends for them to find additional accommodations. or permanent accommodations. that's our goal. >> more from c spspan's visit t hurricane har re. next they talk about a mission
and how they're returning a sense of normalcy. he outlines the forms of system available. here's a look. >> tell us about fema's mission here and how long you guys have been here since hurricane harvey. >> we got here in texas on the 27th. came down to houston on the 28th. some got here before me. a bulk of our team arrived after that. our goal is to assist the state of texas as they recover from the effects of hurricane harvey. there are a lot of things that go into that. a lot goes into that. a lot of sheltering stuff. there are people that as we move them into the recovery phase, they start to look for short term and long term housing so collusions. we are here to support the state. this is actually a disaster recovery center. what we do here is help people register or fema assistance or come in and help answer some of the questions they may have.
we understand at the end of the day it can be a very confusing process. here is where we try to have that face to face interaction they may not be getting online or on the phone, help walk them through that step and make sure they are getting the right customer service. >> how many disaster relief centers do you have and how big is the staff on hand to handle the volume? of storm victims here? >> here in texas we're up to 22 disaster recovery centers. we're hoping more and more each day. yesterday it was 20. so that number is constantly changing. we have about 4,000 people supporting hurricane harvey here in texas. that number ebbs and flows. as the needs of disaster goes on. we registered 750,000 survivors. households, really, because we only accept one application per household. the number of people are helping is significantly higher. in our disaster recovery centers, we are servicing a variety of the number of people per day and depending on the location and size and where each area is in the disaster recovery process. >> walk us through what happens when a victim walks through a disaster relief center.
>> we actually call them survivors. as they walk through, they will go in and sit down with someone and ask them a couple of basic questions. are you looking for more information. are you looking to update your case. why are you here? how can we help you? from there they will direct them to a variety of different agencies and services that exist inside the disaster recovery center. so right now we have got two different portions of fema in there. we have our individual assistance which is what most come here looking for. at each of those tables they can reg ter a new survivor, answer any questions they may have. you can also sit to figure out as they start the recovery process, how can they make sure they are at less risk next time. there is also a number of state agencies including the texas department of insurance and a number of disaster recovery centers they may have department of health
and human services, department of motor vehicles to help with drivers licenses and things like that. department of veterans affairs. veterans to help with their health care services as well. we also have a large number of representatives in the small business administration here. we really partner together as we look at how to help people recover. fema provides assistance in the form of grants. we can provide $33,300. a lot of people won't come close to that maximum grant. we want to provide as much assistance as we can. so when you look at the damage for most people, even if they did hit the maximum grant, they are not talking about it being enough for their recovery. the small business administration despite it being business can do a lot of assistance and they can provide low interest disaster loans that will bridge the gap for a lot of people. regardless of whether people want to take the loan, we need them to fill out the application and they can make a decision afterwards with what they want to do with whatever they've been
approved for. but we need that information to continue with the loan process. it is part of why we partner to make sure they are providing those services and answering those questions and helping people figure out the application process. gl when you say low interest rate, how low is that rate? >> you'd have to ask for the exact examples, but i think we're talking 1.75%, to 2% range. we are talking very low interest rates and it depends on the credit score. >> so once they are registered have their fema number and everything what's the next step? how long is it before they are denied or get assistance? >> so right now -- let me back up. the next step after they register is for an inspector to come out and look at the damage. we need to make sure the damage they sustained is from the storm but we need to make sure they capture everything accurately. i know most people we're talking
about don't know enough about the damages. we'll send an inspector out to make sure they are capturing everything. right now the wait time is about 30 days because of the sheer volume of people in a disaster. on average most disasters is about ten days. we have 750,000 applications in right now. although we approved 240,000 applications it's still a long way to go. the 2,100 inspectors on t ground, that's still a long time frame. right now that wait is about 30 days. it's part of why we encourage people not to wait to start the clean up process. document and start cleaning up. you know how quickly mold can grow. >> and you were saying the amount, the highest amount you can get won't cover everything. so when they in here you talk to them about other prevention plans and mitigation. tell us about that. >> the best way is to have insurance. while we have homeowners insurance for most of these
people or renters insurance, for a lot of people they don't have flood insurance. that's something we're strongly pushing for. that is a huge gap. homeowners insurance won't cover flood damages. without that they can be left holding the bag. on a pretty substantial amount of damage. we also talk about how they can reduce their risk as part of the mitigation table. they can also talk about the little things that people can do to reduce their risk or reduce the damages next time this happens. it can be little things like installing flood vents which most homes in texas don't have basements, so it's not really a solution here, but it could be elevating the utilities to a higher location or elevating the entire home or buy outs as they are commonly known. it will depend for a lot of people on what the state chooses to prioritize when the state chooses how to mitigate the dollars. >> in the past for hurricane katrina people have become aware of the fema trailers.
i know you have moved away from that. are they available here? >> there are no fema trailers in texas at the moment. there are large reasons for that not tied to katrina. we got a little bit of a bad rap for what happened there. we have changed our processes to make sure -- to make sure it is up to industry standards. we buy the products people would normally buy. it runs through us and becomes part of our assistance program. one of the reasons we look at mobile houses units or travel trailers as more of a last resort for a lot of people is it's because not the solution that's right for everyone. one, we want to encourage people to use rental assistance to actually rent a property or use the hotel program. those resources provide a little more stability, but the other thing they provide for people is economic influx into the community. where a travel trailer doesn't. if you're staying in a hotel it
is pumping money back into the economy. we know that economic recovery is a huge part of an area's recovery after a disaster. so it is a solution but not for everyone. if we get to that point, there's a lot of things that become concerns and things we have to work through to make them a realistic possibility to include space. we're in downtown houston right now. there's not a ton of places to put those sorts of things. you have to make sure they're not being put back in a floodplain and they have electricity and wastewater and all of these other services most homes are not designed to handle right off the bat. it's an in-depth program that we really have to provide. we try and work through that process and try and find the right solution. right now the state is leading the housing task force. they are looking to come up with a solution pretty quickly and make an announcement. i don't know what it might be. there are a lot of options on the table.
the state is taking the lead. >> you talk about the hotel assistance s. that included in the application processor is that a separate -- >> no. it's part of the same process. we work with people and ask them what's their living situation look like. if it is something they can remedy pretty quickly we may look towards the hotel program. if it will be a longer term solution then probably rental assistance is the right answer for them. we need to check a lot of things like eligibility but those are conversations we're going to be having through the regular application process. >> i understand fema offers some other kinds of assistance, too, like funeral arrangements and stuff like that you were talking about. >> yeah. through our other program because we like using new terms and new acronyms we can help with the contents of your home, clothing, furniture, things like that. we can also help out with damage to your vehicle or medical or dental expenses that you may have incurred after a disaster. when we start having this
conversation with the survivor they understand what types of services we're able to help with and that they're telling us the types of damages they sustain. one there are other resources we may be able to help with but also we need to connect them with voluntary groups or other agencies that may be able to help with some of their needs. >> you guys obviously are dealing with two major hurricanes. what are some of the challenges you've encountered with two major hurricanes back to back? >> fortunately our work force is designed to hit on two catastrophic incidents. i don't know what's going on with irma but i'm sure we'll find similar things out there. our work force is designed to handle that. do we have the sheer resources toe respond to a disaster and we're built for this. we have a number of partner of our agencies. hhs is here on the ground with us, the coast guard has been here, a lot of different partners have played a role here.
we really rely on them for any za disaster and they've come to the table on this as well. we have manpower we have the search capacity force where we with look at partner agencies to help us and use skill sets they have to providing services to disaster survivors. >> you have a large number of staff here now. >> is there after a certain point where things start winding down? how long will fema stay here? >> the short answer is we'll be here as long as the state needs us here and wants us here. as we start looking at programs, people will see shifts in staffing. as we roll through a disaster, the recovery process is different. now are efforts are focused primarily on individuals. as long as that application is here, those type of staff will be here. they'll be here after that to close that process out. after that we start looking at damage to infrastructure and state and local government. it is a different people to look in. we start talking about mitigation. it is different parts of our partner agencies that will roll
through over the course of a disaster. we don't need search and rescue teams here anymore. we've shifted to another aspect. as we roll through different types of staff will come in. >> and live now here on cspan 3, a discussion on ways to increase racial diversity and education and improving educational eck quity. it's part of the congressional black caucus foundation's legislative conference being held at the washington convention center in washington, d.c. this is live coverage on cspan