Filemon Vela

Representing the 34 District of Texas

Vela, Cornyn, Cruz, Cuellar, Gonzalez send letter to FEMA administrator long urging reassessment of FEMA denial

October 24, 2018
Press Release

The South Texas Bipartisan Congressional Delegation is Requesting Additional Support for Cameron and Hidalgo after Severe Storms and Flooding


WASHINGTON – Senators John Cornyn (TX) and Ted Cruz (TX) today joined Congressmen Filemon Vela (TX-34), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), and Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) in a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator William ‘Brock’ Long requesting that FEMA reconsider their denial of damages reported by Cameron and Hidalgo Counties in their applications for Public Assistance (PA) resulting from this summer’s recent severe storms and flooding.


In June 2018, rainfall was measured at 15-17 inches of rain throughout Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and Coastal Bend. On Friday, July 6, 2018, President Donald J. Trump announced a Federal Disaster Declaration, DR-4377-FEMA, for Hidalgo and Cameron Counties after multiple requests from Congressmen Vela, Gonzalez, and Cuellar; Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz; and Governor Greg Abbott. Individual Assistance and Hazard Mitigation assistance eligibility were granted; however, Public Assistance (PA) was not.

Both Texas Senators have joined forces with the three Congressmen to urge that Administrator Long address inaccurate damage assessments and surveys carried out by FEMA on the ground, coupled with a new interpretation of federal law that is inconsistent with precedent for past disasters. The members are also requesting supporting documentation and the relevant change in federal law that has resulted in FEMA’s recent policy shift deeming irrigation and drainage districts ineligible for PA.

“I urge Administrator Long to reconsider the denial of public assistance to Cameron and Hidalgo Counties,” Congressman Vela said. “The recent rains wreaked havoc on the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and it is incredibly important to provide the necessary support for a quick and effective recovery. I appreciate all the efforts of local, state, and federal officials to secure FEMA designation for Individual Assistance and Hazard Mitigation.”

"Cameron and Hidalgo counties have experienced tremendous loss and devastation as a result of extreme flooding in June,” Sen. Cruz said. “In the face of disaster I am proud of Texas' law enforcement, first responders, and elected officials for jumping into action and helping our fellow Texans impacted by the storms and floods there. It is critical that Administrator Long and FEMA reevaluates the damage assessments for Hidalgo and Cameron counties to ensure that the counties receive all of the federal aid available after the massive destruction caused by this summer's flooding."

Congressman Cuellar said, “We must continue to work towards securing resources that areas like Cameron and Hidalgo Counties need to recover from the recent storms and floods. It is my hope that Administrator Long will reconsider FEMA’s damage assessments, as it is our belief that the process used to make these determinations was flawed. I would like to thank my fellow colleagues from Texas for joining me in these recovery efforts. I would also like to recognize local, state, and federal officials for ensuring that these communities receive the aid they require.” 

“I thank local, state, and federal officials for their continued efforts to assist in recovery efforts for Cameron and Hidalgo Counties and for calling on us for aid,” Congressman Gonzalez said. “I urge Administrator Long to reconsider the current damage assessments and recognize the flawed process that made these determinations. Our constituents are not asking for favors, only the consistent application of law to the facts.”


Read the full letter here