Texas Disaster Declaration opens door to federal aid for losses sustained during winter storms

cars on snowy road
Federal assistance is available to individuals and businesses in Texas who sustained damages during the winter storm. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)

Federal assistance is available to individuals and businesses in Texas who sustained damages during the winter storm. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)

Updated at 10:45 a.m. Feb. 25: The story has been updated to include additional counties approved for assistance, a new call center set up to collect damage information and a help center established to answer questions about the application process.

Individuals and businesses who sustained losses during the February 2021 winter storms are eligible for federal assistance, according to a Texas Disaster Declaration approved by President Joe Biden.

The declaration, signed Feb. 19 and updated days later, encompasses 108 counties and is meant to supplement state and local recovery efforts, according to a statement from president's office.

"Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster," according to the statement.

Disaster assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency is also available to eligible state and local governments as well as certain nonprofits "on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures and hazard mitigation measures statewide."

The winter storm that brought snow and extreme cold left millions without power, some for several days, and triggered water supply issues as frozen pipes burst in homes, businesses and schools.

People and businesses that sustained losses may apply for federal assistance at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362.

FEMA officials advised people to take photos of any damage from the storms and if water pipes have burst to work with a plumber and their insurance company on repairs. Those who apply for FEMA disaster assistance will need to provide insurance claim information, according to a release from FEMA.

A Disaster Distress Helpline has also been activated for people coping with stress from the winter storm. This toll-free, multilingual and confidential crisis support line is available 24/7. People may call or text 800-985-5990 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management is also conducting a survey to assess damages from the storm. Click here for a link to the voluntary survey. State officials announced Feb. 25 that a new call center has been set up to help Texans with limited or no internet service fill out the damage survey. Calls to 844-844-3089 will be accepted from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.

Gov. Greg Abbott called the information collected through the damage survey as crucial.

"The information gleaned from the iSTAT will help us advocate for the support and assistance our communities need to recover from the winter storm," he said in a news release.

In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration has set up centers to assist business owners as well as homeowners and renters in applying for help through the disaster loan program. Representatives can explain the application process and answer questions. Assistance is available between 7 a.m.-7 p.m. by calling 800-659-2955 or emailing focwassistance@sba.gov.

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, 1,445 public water systems reported disruptions in service due to the weather, affecting nearly 14.4 million Texans in 190 counties. As of 10 a.m. Feb. 24, more than 2.2 million people were still under boil-water notices, according to the TCEQ. Click here for links to see which communities were still under boil-water notices and which ones have been cleared.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages about 90% of the electric grid in the state, resumed normal operations Feb. 19. More than 10,000 customers in Texas were still without power as of 10:40 a.m. Feb. 25, according to outage tracker poweroutage.us. Those outages are likely due to damages to local utility systems, according to ERCOT.

See the map below for counties included in the Texas Disaster Declaration.

By Valerie Wigglesworth
Valerie has been a journalist for more than 30 years. She is currently managing editor for DFW Metro for Community Impact Newspaper.


Photo from inside a movie theater
Alamo Drafthouse files for bankruptcy, closes theaters in downtown Austin and New Braunfels

Most theaters will remain open under an asset purchase agreement to the company's senior lending partners.

Plano ISD board meeting
Plano ISD facilities sustained more than $1.7M in damage during winter storms

Though last month’s winter storms caused an estimated $1.7 million in damage to 53 campuses and facilities, Plano ISD personnel expect the district will only have to pay its $100,000 insurance deductible for the needed repairs.

Renovations at the Chick-fil-A in the Richardson Square development are slated to be complete later this spring. (Courtesy Chick-fil-A)
Richardson Chick-fil-A closes for upgrades; Eight|11 restaurant reopens in Frisco and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 2 that mask mandates and business capacity restrictions will be lifted in Texas. (Courtesy Office of the Texas Governor)
Gov. Greg Abbott lifts statewide mask mandate, business restrictions in Texas

With vaccine distribution increasing, Gov. Greg Abbott said "people and businesses don't need the state telling them how to operate." Some local officials are pushing back, saying the relaxed restrictions are coming too early.

Richardson Police Department’s new Crisis Intervention Team began operations in October. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
New Richardson police team aims to curtail local mental health crises through proactive intervention

The recently launched Crisis Intervention Team is a partnership with Methodist Richardson Medical Center.

The city of Richardson is offering water bill adjustments due to winter storm leaks. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Richardson City Council approves emergency authorization for storm-related relief programs

Approval of three relief avenues will cost the city approximately $490,000, Deputy City Manager Don Magner said.

Enrollment issues related to the coronavirus pandemic could lead to budget deficits of around $10 million each for Richardson and Plano ISDs. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Millions in lost enrollment dollars looms for Richardson, Plano ISDs

TEA implemented a hold-harmless guarantee for the first semester of the 2020-21 school year, which ensured that districts would receive their anticipated funding regardless of changes to attendance or enrollment. But TEA had not applied the guarantee to the spring semester as of Feb. 23.

Scooter's Coffee is now open at 1451 E. Buckingham Road in Richardson. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
Scooter's Coffee opens in Richardson; Hawaiian Bros restaurant coming to Fort Worth and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Chick-fil-A food.
Chick-fil-A in Richardson Square closed for renovations

The work being done includes upgrades to its interior and drive-thru enhancements to improve efficiency, a company representative said.

Harvest Hall officially opened Feb. 6 in Grapevine as part of the Grapevine Main development. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harvest Hall now open in Grapevine, new dining options in Fort Worth and more DFW news from February

Here are some of the top stories from the past month from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

digital rendering of virus
Collin County Judge Chris Hill rescinds COVID-19 disaster declaration

Collin County’s declaration of local disaster in response to COVID-19 was rescinded Feb. 26 by Judge Chris Hill.

See how COVID-19 impacted Dallas County over the last week. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Tracking COVID-19: New cases drop after power outages, testing site closures in Dallas County

After a recent decline in new coronavirus cases in Dallas County, officials expect the case counts to rise again in the coming days as testing facilities have reopened following winter storm closures from being without power last week.