Much of the government aid money comes from the federal level but is distributed through state and municipal programs.
The trouble for many municipalities, in addition to individuals, is that the money comes from several agencies and the actual process for delivering those resources is pretty complicated. That can slow down the recovery process for many municipalities, especially smaller cities and towns that may not have extensive in-house staff dedicated to disaster recovery efforts.
Further, a lot of these programs have strict eligibility requirements, to guard against abuse or waste.
The trouble for some of these municipalities is that they want to begin handing out funds to begin the recovery process — to do things like fix roads, help homeowners and get the local economy going again.
But many local governments worry that if they accidentally run afoul of these eligibility requirements, they will never recover funds they hand out. This can amount to millions of dollars lost, Trainor said.
"There is really a need for the state federal and local governments to put together a system that is navigable for themselves and for the everyday, average homeowner who is not an expert in disaster recovery or policy," Trainor said.
This is a strong indication of just how important it is for the federal government to make sure communities around the country are thinking about these disasters before they happen and start to put in plans to facilitate recovery, or, even better, reduce the risks their communities face.
As for Houston and the surrounding region, Hurricane Harvey's unprecedented severity will introduce a multitude of new challenges for the region.
"Houston is not going to go back to the way it was before," Trainor said. "This is the beginning of setting the new normal for this area. This community will never be where it was before, it will be something different."