Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday said victims of Hurricane
Harvey and relief workers would be exempt from paying hotel occupancy taxes for
Abbott made the decision the same day he requested a disaster
declaration from President Donald Trump, which was granted.
"There is no doubt that Hurricane Harvey is creating a
temporary housing emergency in the state of Texas," said Abbott. "The
state of Texas has a duty to ensure we are offering as much relief as possible
to the victims, first responders, and relief-effort personnel of this terrible
storm. Reducing the cost of hotel accommodations is one part of that process."
The storm, which made landfall on Friday as a Category 4 hurricane
(winds of 130 to 156 miles per hour), has dropped more than 20 inches of rain
in southeast Texas since last Thursday. Now a tropical storm, Harvey may dump
another 24 inches of rain in the next three days, the National Weather Service
Houston, the fourth-largest U.S. city, has been beset by
extensive flooding. About 75,000 calls have been made to Houston's 911 system
since the storm hit, reported the Associated Press.
Hotel companies IHG and Hyatt on Monday said they
were gathering information about potential property damage at their Houston-area
hotels. Hilton said its hotels had not sustained significant damage and that
they remain open with limited services.
Marriott International said Monday that six of its hotels in the
Houston and Corpus Christi areas are closed: five Fairfield Inns and one TownPlace
Marriott and the J. Willard & Alice S.
Marriott Foundation are each donating $250,000 to the American Red Cross to help storm victims.
With about 86,000 rooms, Houston is the eighth-largest U.S.
hotel market, according to hotel data company STR.
Hertz Global Holdings said that it has closed all but two of
its 45 Houston-area locations.
Dollar and Thrifty locations proactively prepared for Hurricane Harvey by
following our company's storm preparedness and safety procedures, which
included moving vehicles to higher ground," Hertz said in a statement. "We
are bringing in additional vehicles to the area to support our customers,
insurance partners, FEMA and other aid and first responder organizations to
help them assist those impacted by the storm."