By Wes Rapaport (Courtesy: KXAN) AUSTIN (Nexstar) — President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Texas following the winter storm that kept temperatures below freezing for days, dumped snow and ice across the state, and resulted in power and plumbing problems for millions of Texans.
The federal assistance comes in the form of grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to help cover uninsured property losses, and “other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster,” according to the announcement made Saturday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Conservatively, at least 2.7 million Texans were without power, and thawing pipes posed problems as the storm passed, with 14 million people under some kind of boil water advisory in the storm’s aftermath.
But the declaration does not cover individual assistance in all of the state’s 254 counties, despite a Winter Storm Warning issued for each county in Texas. 77 counties were on the initial approved list, FEMA’s announcement stated.
The White House directed questions about the county selection to FEMA. FEMA did not immediately respond to a request for information.
According to information provided by Gov. Greg Abbott’s office, the Biden administration approved the request for Individual Assistance in 77 counties and for Public Assistance (Emergency Protective Measures Only) in all 254 counties.
“I thank President Biden for his assistance as we respond to impacts of winter weather across our state,” Abbott said in a statement.
“While this partial approval is an important first step, Texas will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure all eligible Texans have access to the relief they need.
“The funds provided under the Major Disaster Declaration may provide crucial assistance to Texans as they begin to repair their homes and address property damage,” Abbott continued.
Biden’s partial state approval comes days after he approved an emergency declaration for Texas after the winter storm at the request of Gov. Abbott, authorized FEMA to “identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.” It also allowed the state to receive reimbursable federal assistance.
“Federal funding is also available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures and hazard mitigation measures statewide,” a FEMA press release stated Saturday.
People seeking to apply for assistance for losses in designated areas can register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 TTY.