The Williamson County Commissioners voted to extend the disaster declaration for the area an extra 30 days Feb. 7, after the winter storm that swept through Central Texas Jan. 31-Feb. 2 left residents with downed tree limbs, damaged homes and roads covered in debris.

According to the county, a disaster declaration could allow people with property damage to receive financial assistance, such as interest loans, for those who are uninsured or underinsured. In order to be eligible for assistance, the county must meet a minimum threshold for damage as a result of the storm of $2.7 million, and the state must have a disaster declaration and meet a minimum threshold of $51.7 million. Gov. Gregg Abbott issued a declaration for Texas on Feb. 4.

Michael Shoe, Williamson County Emergency Management director, said the combined cost of damage in the county as of Feb. 6 was $2.5 million. However, Shoe said that number does not include the county’s expenses, and he also expects more damage reports from area cities and school districts.

“So we’re very confident we’ll get way over the disaster threshold,” Shoe said. “As long as the state meets the $51.7 million disaster threshold, we’ll start to see reimbursement. If we don’t, not to panic, but the state is going to figure out another way to help us offset these costs.”

The county is encouraging residents to report damage to the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

Meanwhile, county crews have been working to open its over 1,500-mile road system but have not been able to dispose of brush and debris found in the right of way. Robert Daigh, senior director of infrastructure, said the county's road and bridge department does not have the manpower or time to clean up the debris.

“It will take a significant effort and significant amount of time—as in months to a year—to pick up the debris,” Daigh said.

County commissioners said the court will work with roads staff to hire a disposal services company to help remove the debris around the county.

As for private property, residents are responsible for removing tree limbs and debris. Homeowners may take clean brush to the Williamson County Landfill at 600 Landfill Road, Hutto. The normal charge for clean brush or wood is $8.64 per cubic yard. However, Waste Management will charge $10 per truckload of limbs and brush through Feb. 19. The court also voted to waive the 6.5% fee it collects from disposals. Disposal of trash and debris at the landfill costs $46.90 per ton.

County Judge Bill Gravell asked residents to remain patient as they bring loads to the landfill, as more than 900 truckloads were brought in Feb. 6, compared to the usual amount of roughly 400 truckloads.