Tag Archive for: Disaster Declaration

FEMA Disaster Assistance Available

5/20/24 – A disaster declaration by Governor Abbott that covers May flood and windstorm damage has been partially approved by President Biden. That means FEMA disaster Assistance is now available for people who suffered damage in the Lake Houston Area plus Harris, Montgomery, Liberty and four more counties.

This post explains eligibility, benefits, and how to apply.

After inspection, people can be eligible for a number of benefits, including:

  1. $750 in serious needs assistance
  2. Displacement assistance for temporary housing
  3. Home Repair Assistance
Home damage from East Fork in May 2024 flooding

In addition, money may become available to governmental entities for mitigation assistance. Harris County will hold a special session of Commissioners Court tomorrow, in part, to discuss contracts for disaster response, debris removal and more.

Text of FEMA Press Release

AUSTIN – Texans who sustained damage from the recent severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes, and flooding that began April 26 may be eligible for disaster assistance under FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program. Currently, residents living in Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity and Walker counties may be eligible for disaster assistance.

FEMA’s disaster assistance offers new benefits that provide flexible funding directly to survivors when needed the most. In addition, a simplified process and expanded eligibility allows Texans access to a wider range of assistance and immediate funds for serious needs.

New Benefits for Immediate Funds
  • Serious Needs Assistance, a $750 payment for households for essential items will now be provided in all disasters receiving Individual Assistance to help people make ends meet.
  • Displacement Assistance, a new benefit that will provide people with up-front funds to assist with immediate housing options of their choice, to keep people housed.

Serious Needs Assistance and Displacement Assistance are both funded after a completed inspection confirms eligibility.

Apply to FEMA

Survivors can apply to FEMA in several ways including online at DisasterAssistance.gov, downloading the FEMA App for mobile devices, or calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. Calls are accepted every day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT. Help is available in most languages. If you use a relay service, such as video relay (VRS), captioned telephone or other service, give FEMA the number for that service. To view an accessible video about how to apply visit: Three Ways to Register for FEMA Disaster Assistance – YouTube.

Additional Assistance and Benefits
  • Streamlined Application Requirements so people can apply to SBA and FEMA at the same time.
    • Support for Underinsured People for the first time to help them cover aspects of home repair that insurance companies won’t pay for, but they can’t afford on their own, up to the full $42,500.
  • Simplified Assistance for Entrepreneurs by providing self-employed people with some initial financial support to replace disaster-damaged tools and equipment to help them land on their feet.
    • Ex.: computers if you are a gig worker, lawnmower if you are a landscaper
  • Expanded Habitability Criteria to help people make their homes safer and cleaner post-disaster and so they can repair all aspects of their home post-disaster.
    • Previously, if a home had a leaky roof pre-disaster, that area of the home wouldn’t qualify.
  • Made Accessibility Improvements to help people with disabilities improve their living conditions by making their homes even more accessible than they were pre-disaster.
  • Streamlined Temporary Housing Assistance Applications by reducing documentation requirements for applicants who need to extend their stay in FEMA-supported temporary housing.
  • Simplified the Process for Appeals so people who wish to appeal FEMA’s decisions will no longer need to provide a signed, written appeal letter to accompany the supporting documentation.
  • Computer Assistance for people who need to repair or replace disaster-damaged computers.
Rental Assistance for Temporary Housing

If you currently reside in Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity and Walker counties and suffered damage to your primary residence, FEMA may be able to provide rent for a temporary place to live while you are displaced. Rental assistance is intended to cover monthly rent, security deposit and cost of essential utilities such as electricity and water.

Major Repairs and Out-of-Pocket Expenses

FEMA’s Individuals and Household Program assistance is intended to help jumpstart your recovery. Here are some examples of basic needs:

  • Home Repair Assistance may be provided to homeowners to repair the structural parts of your home. This includes windows, doors, floors, walls, ceilings, cabinets, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system (HVAC), utilities (electrical, plumbing and gas systems) and entrance ways. FEMA may also reimburse for the actual cost to repair or replace your furnace, private well and septic system that was damaged or destroyed by the disaster.

For the latest information visit fema.gov/disaster/4781. Follow the FEMA Region 6 Twitter account at twitter.com/FEMARegion6 or on Facebook at facebook.com/FEMARegion6/

Here is a PDF of FEMA’s press release that you can print and give to friends, neighbors and family members who may not have power.

Status of Other Counties Affected by Storms

The Governor’s press release states that presidential approval of the disaster request for other counties remains under review. Many counties are still collecting damage estimates.

Types of Eligible Expenses

Abbott’s press release also states that qualifying Texans who sustained damage may apply for FEMA Individual Assistance Program funding to assist with expenses, such as “temporary housing, emergency home repairs, uninsured and underinsured personal property losses, disaster legal services, disaster unemployment assistance, and medical, dental, and funeral expenses caused by the disaster.” 

Hazard Mitigation Component

President Biden’s approval also authorizes additional FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program resources to be made available. It’s not clear yet where that money would go or how it would be spent.

Harris County Commissioner’s Court will hold a special meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. On the Agenda, Lina Hidalgo, Harris County Judge has requested a discussion and possible action related to the disaster.

The discussion will include contracts for disaster response, debris removal, and recovery.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/20/24

2456 Days since Hurricane Harvey and two weeks since the last disaster