"We learned after Hurricane Harvey there are a lot of unmet needs. We don’t want to wait an inordinate amount of time to move forward. ... There is a tremendous need," Turner said during a Feb. 22 press conference announcing the fund.
CenterPoint Energy provided a leading gift of $1 million.
The fund will focus on helping Houston and Harris County residents cover the cost of plumbing repair, food and supplies, and other unmet needs as they recover. The fund will be administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation and the United Way of Greater Houston and overseen with an advisory board. Donations can be submitted at winterstormrelieffund.org.
Officials said the funds will be disbursed through local nonprofits and grassroots organizations. Eligibility information will be published at the relief fund website, and residents can text "HOUSTONFREEZE" to 898211 to receive information as well. In the meantime, officials urged residents to apply for federal assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has allocated disaster assistance funds. FEMA also requires that residents have filed claims with their insurance providers as well if they have insurance.
Since Feb. 15, the United Way has logged over 2,500 calls to its 211 help line, with needs ranging from disaster assistance and rent/mortgage relief to food and water needs.
Houston is also asking residents to report residential and personal property damage as it begins to evaluate the recovery needs of the community. Damage information can be submitted online in either English or Spanish.