Texans have until May 20 to file for relief from winter storm damages

Texans impacted by February’s winter storm have until May 20 to submit damages and make claims to FEMA, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday after the Texas Division of Emergency Management requested an extension from the federal agency tasked with helping Americans impacted by natural disasters.

The governor is encouraging Texans who live in 126 qualifying counties to apply for federal assistance to help repair any lasting damages from one of the deadliest winter storms in Texas history.

Abbott requested that Texans living in all 254 counties be able to apply for federal assistance. The Biden administration initially approved assistance for only 77 counties, partially approving Texas’ request for a Major Disaster Declaration. The Texas Division of Emergency Management then re-requested, and FEMA approved, an additional 31 counties to be included as eligible for assistance. Later, it added another 18 counties. TDEM says it is continuing to work with local officials to conduct damage assessments and is providing damage totals from across the state to FEMA.

Texans in the 126 counties that qualify for Individual Assistance can apply at https://www.disasterassistance.gov/.

The state also launched a Texas Assessment Tool (iSTAT) to help Texans report damages, losses and continued outages. It also established a call center to help those who have limited or no access to the internet. Texans can call 844-844-3089 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. seven days a week to submit their damage information.

Those without internet access can call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362. Those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who use a text telephone can call 800-462-7585.

If needed, a state emergency management professional will visit impacted homes to collect photos and documentation of damage for the validation process, the governor’s office said.

The winter storm and power outages that resulted from it “could be the costliest disaster in state history, potentially exceeding the $125 billion in damage from Hurricane Harvey,” the Texas Tribune reported. Texas initially sustained between $45 billion and $50 billion in damage and economic loss from the storm, AccuWeather estimated, including wage losses, infrastructure damage, auxiliary business losses, medical expenses and closures.

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