In Harvey's Wake

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Missed our interview with John Sharp this morning? Here’s what you need to know about what the Texas A&M University chancellor and Harvey recovery czar had to say.

On insurance: Sharp had harsh words for insurance agencies, which he said need to "step up" and help victims of Hurricane Harvey. “We need to know if you’re really ‘like a good neighbor,’” he joked. “We need to know if you’re ‘in good hands.’”

“They need to quit telling their clients, ‘Wait ‘til you get the FEMA money,’” he said. “They need to write a damn check.”

Watch: 

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(In response to Sharp's comments, Beaman Floyd, executive director of the Texas Coalition for Affordable Insurance Solutions, said Friday that "insurance company representatives in Texas are working around the clock to help their customers understand their policy coverage and guide them to the right resources to get disaster assistance." Floyd, whose coalition includes insurance companies that do business in Texas, also pointed out that flood damage is covered by a separate policy primarily provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.)

When it comes to Harvey recovery, it’s all about local officials, he said. Sharp said that Harvey recovery is a “bottom-up enterprise.” Mayors and other local officials are the ones calling the shots, he emphasized.

...but the big dogs have been helping out as well. Sharp praised Gov. Greg Abbott for his willingness to “suspend every rule that exists” in order to speed recovery efforts, and said the governor has done an excellent job coordinating with the federal government. “He takes sometimes more than 10 seconds to suspend a rule, but typically not,” Sharp joked. He also had kind words for President Donald Trump, whose administration “has been very good on this so far,” and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. Notably absent from Sharp’s list was Texas’ other U.S. senator, Ted Cruz.

Watch:

Sharp waded into the Rainy Day Fund debate raging between Abbott and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. Turner has called on Texas to tap the $10 billion fund, but Abbott has insisted that if the state does, it will not be until the next legislative session in 2019. Sharp’s take? “Both of them are right — yes, you’re gonna have to tap the Rainy Day Fund; no, you don’t have to have a special session to do that.”

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And for the Aggies in the audience… Sharp wouldn’t say whether he has confidence in head football coach Kevin Sumlin, who has taken heat for the team's tough loss against UCLA earlier this month. Asked whether Sumlin’s job is safe, Sharp would only say, “I’m not the athletic director.”

Disclosure: Texas A&M University and the Texas Coalition for Affordable Insurance Solutions have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Former Democratic rising star John Sharp was already chancellor of the school he loves. Now, he's been tasked with restoring the region where he got his start. [Full story]

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has chosen John Sharp, chancellor of Texas A&M University and a former longtime Democratic elected official, to lead the rebuilding effort in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. [Full story]

  • The governor said if the state needs to tap the Rainy Day Fund for Harvey recovery, it won't be until the next legislative session in 2019. [Full story]

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