Post-Hurricane Reimbursement Funds Being Dragged Out

Posted on March 18, 2009 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

HOUSTON — Motorcoach operators are still waiting to be paid for emergency services they provided following the devastating hurricane in Houston and Galveston nearly six months ago.

Payments started being received in late February by businesses, non-profits, and government agencies that provided service, however, many small operators in states such as Illinois and Pennsylvania have been financially hurt while waiting for payments and struggling with the recession.

The American Bus Association is asking Congress and the Texas state government to disperse funds delivered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement, and is encouraging members to write letters to Congress urging action.

“The American Bus Association has officially written to Gov. Perry to urge him to move more quickly for those small businesses that helped save thousands of Texans by transporting them on buses to safety as hurricanes Gustav and Ike pelted the Gulf Coast,” said ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso. “FEMA has even sent funds to cover the costs of reimbursing bus operators for their work, so we urge the governor and legislature to realize that time is critical.”

Texas Homeland Security director Steve McGraw said $7 million has been dispersed already and the state will be following up with an additional $25 million from FEMA. The state has been asked to allocate additional funds to pay motorcoach operators, after which Texas can be reimbursed for these funds through FEMA. The Associated Press reported that hundreds of businesses, non-profits, and local governments had been waiting for Texas to pay them $134 million for services such as bus transportation, portable restrooms, and evacuation shelters.

The United Motorcoach Association is also working on helping motorcoach operators in getting full and final payments for the Texas evacuations. Some payments have been received by UMA members, but the association is surveying members and working on securing payments and making sure this situation doesn’t occur again.

Source: Jon LeSage, LCT Magazine

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