Federal aid is available in 67 Texas counties after Hurricane Beryl swept through the state July 8. President Joe Biden said he immediately approved a major disaster declaration June 9 while on a call with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is serving as governor while Gov. Greg Abbott is on a pre-planned trip to Asia.

“We will provide life-saving and life-sustaining activities, and any other federal resource that Texas needs,” Biden said in a statement. “We will be with the people of Texas for as long as it takes to recover.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is working with state and local leaders to remove debris, get supplies to residents and provide support as around 1.3 million customers in the Greater Houston area remain without power.

What’s happening

Federal emergency response teams were stationed in Texas before Hurricane Beryl made landfall, FEMA spokesperson Daniel Llargués told Community Impact.

The teams brought 60 generators, 500,000 meals and 800,000 liters of water with them, according to a news release.

After a disaster, state and federal leaders work together to assess the damage, Llargués said. Federal law says only governors can request federal disaster assistance, and only the president can approve such requests.

“[FEMA] is always working hand-in-hand with them, with the state, to see what their needs are and how we can support best... making sure that if there are any unmet needs, that we are coordinating with the state and our federal partners,” Llargués said.

The federal government will reimburse state and local governments for 75% of the cost of debris removal and other emergency procedures. However, the declaration does not include individual disaster assistance, which often covers things like temporary housing and home repairs after a disaster.

The disaster declaration may be amended to include individual assistance, but in the meantime, FEMA encourages Texans to submit claims through their insurance companies. Residents can also report personal property damages to the state here.

The storm is expected to cost around $28 billion-$32 billion nationwide, the private media forecasting company AccuWeather estimated.

More details

Officials have stressed that restoring power for residents is the top priority.

“The greatest concern right now is the power outages and extreme heat that is impacting Texans,” Biden said in his statement. “As you all know, extreme heat kills more Americans than all the other natural disasters combined.”

The Public Utility Commission of Texas, which regulates the state’s power grid, said utility companies impacted by the storm will testify on their “preparedness and recovery efforts” during the commission’s July 11 meeting. The meeting, which begins at 9:30 a.m., will be livestreamed here.

Looking ahead

FEMA will continue to work with state leaders and local communities to determine the extent of the damage, Llargués said.

“It's an ongoing situation, but we just wanted to make sure that we get assistance as swiftly and quickly to the state of Texas, and that’s why you see this declaration,” he said.

For more information about the ongoing power restoration and storm recovery efforts in the Greater Houston area, read Community Impact’s previous coverage.

FEMA created a landing page July 10 for information and resources related to Hurricane Beryl’s destruction in Texas.