If approved, counties included in the declaration would be eligible for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including grants to clean up debris, repair public infrastructure and more. General hazard mitigation resources would also be available statewide, according to a news release.
Abbott’s request includes 23 Texas counties: Bastrop, Blanco, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Delta, Denton, Falls, Hays, Henderson, Hopkins, Hunt, Kendall, Lamar, Lee, Leon, Milam, Red River, Robertson, Shelby, Smith, Travis and Williamson. The governor issued a state disaster declaration for seven counties Feb. 4, which he later expanded to include more counties after damage was identified.
Local governments have reported $63.5 million in damages, Abbott said. According to damage reports filed with the Texas Division of Emergency Management, 1,990 homes in Central and North Texas were negatively impacted by the storm in some way, while 831 homes sustained minor damage, 252 had major damage, and six were completely destroyed.
Texans can still report damage to their homes and businesses online by visiting damage.tdem.texas.gov and selecting “Ice Storm/Winter Weather January 29 - Ongoing” under “active incidents.” The damage survey is available in English and Spanish.
“Considering the scope of these disasters and the recent issues caused by the severe storms and tornadoes in late January, along with the continued economic impacts of COVID-19, Texans affected by Winter Storm Mara are in dire need of federal assistance,” Abbott wrote in a Feb. 21 letter to Biden. “The constant barrage of disaster-caused damages on the community infrastructure and individual homes far exceeds the financial resources available to these communities to recover from another catastrophic event.”
On Feb. 7, the governor requested a presidential disaster declaration for the Southeast Texas counties impacted by the Jan. 23-25 tornadoes.
Abbott estimated Texas has spent more money on disaster response efforts than any other state since 2020. This includes responses to the coronavirus pandemic, severe weather and illegal border crossings, he said in the letter.
Many state agencies responded to the ice storm and supplied emergency resources. Over $880,000 was spent on the state agency response, according to the letter.
“We will rebuild and recover, but we are fatigued. The constant onslaught of record-breaking storms has affected our first responders, depleted our resources, and caused undue mental and financial stress to Texans,” Abbott said in the conclusion of his letter to the president.