Texas churches sue FEMA over access to Harvey emergency relief funds

1 Houston

Houston News & Search

1 News - 1 eMovies - 1 eMusic - 1 eBooks - 1 Search

Three small churches damaged as Hurricane Harvey made landfall, pushed inland and lumbered northward sued the Federal Emergency Management Agency in federal court Tuesday seeking access to relief funds for nonprofit groups.

Nonprofits harmed by Harvey have a 30-day window to apply for emergency cleanup grants. FEMA, however, turned down disaster assistance requests from facilities owned by religious groups after hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, according to Diana Verm, who represents the churches at Becket, a nonprofit law firm in Washington, D.C., that specializes in religious liberty cases.


Verm said in the past FEMA has issued disaster aid to an octopus research center, a botanical garden and community centers that provide sewing classes and stamp-collecting clubs. 

“Hurricane Harvey didn’t cherry pick its victims, and FEMA shouldn’t cherry pick who it helps,” she said.

The Houston lawsuit brought on behalf of the Rockport First Assembly of God in Aransas County, Harvest Family Church in Cypress and Hi-Way Tabernacle in Cleveland claims the government’s disaster relief policy violates the Constitution by denying faith groups the right to apply for funds. The suit cites a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June where the majority held that the state government of Missouri could not discriminate and deny funding to a church group applying for playground equipment because it was affiliated with a religion.

Nicole Navas, a spokesperson at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., said the office is aware of the complaint and will review it.


1 Houston

Houston News & Search

1 News - 1 eMovies - 1 eMusic - 1 eBooks - 1 Search


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssyoutube

Leave a Reply