Hurricane Rita Damage in Parks One Year Later

Homes and businesses weren't the only ones damaged by Hurricane Rita last year. A number of state parks were also damaged, and many of them still haven't been repaired, as Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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Hurricane Rita came ashore on the Texas-Louisiana line a year ago this week and cut a swathe of property damage more than a hundred miles inland. State Parks spokesman Tom Harvey says every state park in southeast Texas was affected.

"Trees blown down, buildings crushed, roads wiped out, waste water and sewage systems affected, electrical lines all blown down. It wasn't safe for people to be there."

Here we are a year later and almost none of the damage has been repaired and many of the parks are still closed. Harvey says they need about $3.1 million to repair all the damage, and FEMA is expected to pay about half of that.

"We're working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to try to get reimbursement to help us repair our state parks, wildlife management areas and other sites that were damaged by Hurricane Rita, and it's been a long process."

To deal with this emergency, Governor Rick Perry is expected to ask lawmakers to dedicate all the revenue from the state tax on sporting goods to the parks department. Right now parks get only about a third of the 100 million dollars that tax generates every year. Even so, Harvey says it will take several years to get all the state parks repaired and open again. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.