Sharp promises fast action as post-Harvey rebuilding czar

John Sharp, Texas A&M University System Chancellor, has been selected by Gov. Greg Abbott to lead a commission that will coordinate relief and rebuilding efforts in the many Texas communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

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Other agency officials will accompany Abbott and Sharp including representatives from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Texas Military Department, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Education Agency, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Department of Emergency Management and the Texas Water Development Board.

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“We are very cognizant of the fact that this money will come from taxes paid by hardworking Americans and we will treat it with the kind of respect and accountability that they deserve and expect”, Sharp said in a statement.

Abbott said the commission will be focused on public assistance such as rebuilding infrastructure and individual assistance, which FEMA will handle.

Sharp, a Democrat, served in the state House and Senate representing coastal districts before serving four years on the Texas Railroad Commission and eight years as state comptroller, where he gained a national reputation for thorough and exacting audits of state agencies. Perry then moved into the governor’s mansion when George W. Bush left Texas for the White House in December 2000.

Sharp said the state was working with FEMA on a way to quickly fix flood victims’ homes – a program in which contractors would be sent into affected homes to conduct permanent, structural repairs so displaced residents could move back in. Tomorrow, they will meet with local officials in Beaumont, Texas.

He said it is also the commission’s hope to be able to “provide a one-stop shop for access to state and federal resources, and to ensure local officials are armed with information crucial for decision-making” by embedding information clearinghouse teams in each affected county. “Someone who knows how to work with local leaders, with state leaders, as well as with federal leaders”.

These experts will also assist with federal disaster rules, federal and state law, government procurement and large-scale construction issues. They were visiting the Gulf Coast communities of Corpus Christi and Richmond on Thursday, and were headed to Houston and Victoria on Friday.

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