Victoria County Emergency?

By now, I hope you've read the Victoria Advocate's latest in a series that explores how and why Victoria County circumvented standard business practices in spending Hurricane Harvey recovery money, particularly at the Victoria Regional Airport. 

In a story Sunday, readers learned that:

  • The contractor that worked on the airport, Virtus Group/Commercial Restoration Company, is from out of state and had no prior work history here.
  • Despite that, the Texas Association of Counties recommended the contractor and it worked for two counties after Harvey besides Victoria County.
  • One of the contractor's representatives went to the wedding of the county official. That county official submitted the contractor's invoices for payment, which totaled about $2.1 million.
  • Victoria County Emergency Management Coordinator Rick McBrayer said he used the contractor's invoices on the airport work to demonstrate to Federal Emergency Management Agency that the county had met it's deductible with TAC and was therefore eligible for a 90% reimbursement of its deductible.

What's been unclear until today is how much FEMA money has been dispersed to the county and what projects it went to.

McBrayer sent the Advocate a spreadsheet he says answers those questions. It is below:

It shows that the county anticipates it will receive a total of $4.4 million from FEMA and that so far, it has received $3.8 million.

Of that, $62,496.97 went to projects at the airport. To break that down even further: 

  • $44,999.82 appears to be the 90% reimbursement the county sought for its insurance deductible from FEMA, which it said it met when remediating and repairing two airplane hangars and the airport control tower.
  • $17,497.15 appears to have gone toward making a third airplane hangar more resilient to future storms.

We are still going through this document, but would love it if our readers could help. What stands out to you? What questions do you have? Comment below, call 361-574-1222 or email deliverydesk@vicad.com. Thank you!

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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Former Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest worked for the Victoria Advocate from August 2012-September 2019, first as the courts reporter and then as the environment/investigations reporter. Read her work now at www.jessicapriest.me.

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(3) comments

Betty Williams

Two years after a major hurricane with 20/20 hindsight, we are critical of how the recovery was handled. Having experienced several storms including two major hurricanes, I think we should give local governments praise for the speed they provided in getting things back to normal. After Hurricane Carla brush remained for a longer period of time and it took three weeks to get electricity and six weeks for telephone service to return. We had more brush to remove with Harvey because of the duration of the storm.

James Garland

I glanced at the spreadsheet for FEMA payments, but somehow I missed the expenditure on the Airport Officers club. Seems like that was enough money to be shown as a line item. While thinking about the officers club, I was wondering how much revenue it has brought in since the rehab?

Glenn Wilson

"What's been unclear until today is how much FEMA money has been dispersed to the county and what projects it went to." -- So now we have a spreadsheet that tells us, but that's not the issue. The question is the honesty, transparency and integrity, or the lack thereof, of the process and the assorted players. Good Ol' Boy-ism needs to die out in the Crossroads.

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