WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) joined Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas) to send a letter to the Regional Administrator of FEMA Region 6 – responsible for coordinating emergency management and disaster response efforts in the southwestern states – to express their strong support for the City of Corpus Christi’s appeal of FEMA’s rejection of additional funding for the Packery Channel Restoration Project.
The Packery Channel is a man-made tidal inlet that serves as a waterway connecting the Gulf of Mexico with the Corpus Christi Bay. The purpose of the channel is to improve water circulation, manage tides, and enhance navigation for boats in the area. The channel plays a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance of the local coastal environment and supporting economic activities such as fishing, tourism, and recreational boating. It required significant repair to ensure proper functioning after the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
FEMA took nearly four years to review and ultimately approve the original restoration plan for the Packery Channel. In that time, the channel suffered additional corrosion and damage not accounted for in the original restoration plan and, due to red tape, the City was unable to initiate restoration work until FEMA officially approved the plan.
Read the full text of the letter here.
Dear Administrator Robinson:
We write in strong support for the City of Corpus Christi, and their first appeal of FEMA’s Public Assistance eligibility determination for the Packery Channel Restoration Project, under the Hurricane Harvey disaster.
We have been keenly aware of the efforts the City of Corpus Christi has made over the last four years to work closely with FEMA in developing a Packery Channel Restoration Project that carefully abides by FEMA’s policies. Our offices have been in the very meetings with FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the question of eligibility went back and forth from one Federal agency to another.
The City of Corpus Christi has adhered strictly to FEMA policy which requires Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation review, particularly for permanent repair work in waterways, must be complete before construction begins; otherwise, the Applicant will jeopardize Public Assistance funding for the project.
The delay to the city’s ability to conduct restoration work was a result of FEMA’s failure from the very beginning to properly identify project eligibility coupled with the project’s protracted Public Assistance review time. Due to this, it became necessary for the City to submit a project scope amendment to address further damages. Awaiting final approval by FEMA before initiating restoration work was prudent for the City to protect project funding. For this, the City should not be held responsible for further damages caused due to FEMA’s delay.
Federal funds already obligated for this project should not be withdrawn to ensure this vital channel can be fully restored. We urge you to give the City of Corpus Christi your full and fair consideration of their first appeal.
Please know that to ensure this correspondence is not construed as ex parte communication, our offices consulted our respective Committee on Ethics, which advised a consultation with FEMA Congressional Affairs, whereby FEMA stated that letters of support for a first or second appeal and addressing the letter to the Regional Administrator is acceptable.
- In 2021, Sen. Cruz secured $10 million in federal funding by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that was allocated to the Packery Channel Restoration Project in Corpus Christi, Texas to repair the damages caused by Hurricane Harvey.
- In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation in 2017, Sen. Cruz visited with victims, volunteers, first responders, and local officials in every region affected by the storm.
- Sen. Cruz worked with Sen. Cornyn to bring $89 billion in federal aid to Texas, established a bilingual Hurricane Harvey recovery working group to address Texans’ needs, worked with colleagues on legislation to help Texans applying for disaster assistance, and co-authored the federal law that provided crucial and immediate tax relief to storm survivors along the Gulf Coast.
- Another law authored by Sens. Cruz and Cornyn expedited distribution of $4.3 billion in disaster recovery funding for community development block grants.
Hurricane Harvey: Two Years Later