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AUSTIN — A commission convened by Gov. Greg Abbott to focus on rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey issued a report Thursday saying the state should take a series of steps to prepare for the next big storm, including hardening utilities against natural disasters, improving the debris removal processes and expanding a council devoted to emergency management.
The 175-page report, which Abbott called a “roadmap” for the Texas Legislature and local communities moving forward, came more than a year after Harvey inundated parts of the Houston area with more than 60 inches of rain. It was compiled by the Commission to Rebuild Texas, which was overseen by Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp.
“We knew when the hurricane hit, that Hurricane Harvey would deserve a Texas size response,” Abbott said. “By following the recommendations in the report, Texas will be better prepared to deal with future disasters.”
The report praised Texas’ response to Harvey, saying that “Texas is a national leader in responding to disasters.” But it also said that “Hurricane Harvey was a warning that we should heed.”
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“The enormous toll on individuals, businesses and public infrastructure should provide a wakeup call underlining the urgent need to ‘future-proof’ the Gulf Coast — and indeed all of Texas — against future disasters,” the report said in its executive summary.
Sitting next to Abbott, Sharp talked about the importance of making sure someone in every county in the state was trained in disaster management. He also talked about institutionalizing the use of extension agents from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to better support the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
Harvey made landfall in August 2017. It left more than 90 people dead and caused extreme flooding in Houston and other areas near the coast. The storm was the costliest U.S. disaster in 2017.
In November, an interim report from the Texas Senate’s budget-writing panel estimated that state government has already spent $2.7 billion on Harvey recovery. More than 80 percent of that came from federal sources.
This developing story will be updated.
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