GALVESTON -- City and county officials in Galveston said they could lose millions of dollars in federal aid meant to help the victims of Hurricane Ike if more residents don't apply for help to repair and rebuild their homes.
We know people are out there who need our help, said Alicia Cahill, a spokeswoman for the city of Galveston. We just have to reach them.
The federal government gave the city and county a combined $266million to help Ike's victims repair andrebuild their homes. Harris County was given $56 million.
Some residents have taken the government up on the offer -- but many haven't.
We're hoping we can get help from the city now, said Michael Enriquez, a Galveston resident.
Enriquez, who applied for assistance last week, was laid off from his job at a Texas City refinery seven months ago. His only car sits idle -- in need of repair. And his son needs new shoes. He said he had little money to repair the damage to his home in Galveston's Bayou Shores neighborhood.
I'm tired of asking people for help, so I just do what I can and then I explain to the boys, 'OK, you know, if you need stuff for school, well, it'll wait, 'cause I need to buy stuff for the house,' he said.
Hurricane Ike damaged 75 percent of the homes and businesses in Galveston. Sixteen months later there is no good guess of how many homes and businesses still need repairs.
We have a two-year time window to spend this money, said Cahill. We need to get those applications in as soon as possible because building a house or repairing a home isn't something you can do overnight.
City of Galveston residents can learn how to apply for assistance at the City of Galveston Recovers Web site.
Residents of Galveston County can learn how to apply for help through the Galveston County Housing Assistance Web site.
The Harris County Recovers Web site has ways to apply for help for Harris County residents.