Abbott Names A&M’s Sharp to Head Panel on post-Harvey Repairs

AUSTIN -- Gov. Greg Abbott has named a commission to coordinate rebuilding of infrastructure devastated by Hurricane Harvey and a subsequent storm that caused widespread flooding in southeast Texas and along the Gulf Coast.The Governor's Commission to Rebuild Texas will be headed by Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, a former Democratic legislator, railroad commissioner and comptroller, Abbott announced Thursday.The Republican governor said in picking his hurricane czar, he looked for someone "with a very unique skill set."The lead overseer for the rebuilding effort needs to be able to work with local officials, deeply understand state finance and be intimately familiar with the Gulf Coast, the energy industry and engineering, Abbott said."I found all of those attributes in a single person, John Sharp," Abbott said at a Capitol news conference.The governor stressed, though, that the effort will require more than one person. Sharp will remain the A&M system's chancellor and receive no extra pay."I know well the charms of living on the Gulf Coast," Sharp said, recalling his youth in Placedo in Victoria County. In the Legislature, he represented areas reaching from Rockport in the south to Fort Bend County in the east.The commission will provide an information clearinghouse in each affected county and work closely with local officials on everything from finance, engineering and construction to local control of pests, Sharp said."The road to recovery is going to be long but Texans are a tough breed," the chancellor said, promising "an even greater Texas Gulf Coast."Abbott said local officials know best what their residents need most."This commission will be in charge of making sure that contact is made," he said.As he and his spokesmen have said in recent days, Abbott said "this storm and the devastation it caused deserves a Texas-size response."Asked if he has a goal for when debris from the storm will be removed, Abbott said he wants that done as soon as possible.On how to provide temporary housing to displaced survivors of the storm, Tony Robinson of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Region 6 office in Denton said federal and state officials will seek local officials' input on the solutions.They could range from trailers to programs that help homeowners quickly occupy their homes as they're being repaired, he said.Abbott said FEMA is working closely with the state."We must help our displaced families. We must help our communities rebuild," he said.Also, an official of the federal Environmental Protection Agency will be embedded in the state's Emergency Operations Center in Austin to help coordinate cleanup and stabilization of waste sites and other sensitive installations with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Abbott said.  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us