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Winter Storm

Winter Storm Resources

FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program

For those affected by the 2021 winter storms, my office held a virtual lunch & learn to explain FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program and answer any questions about applying, coverage, and what happens next.  You can find the presentation here: FEMA Individual Assistance Lunch & Learn Presentation.

Aquellos afectados por la tormenta reciente pueden acceder una presentación que mi oficina dio para explicar el programa de asistencia individual de FEMA. Pueden encontrar la presentación aquí: Presentación sobre el Programa de Asistencia Individual de FEMA.

On February 19, 2021 President Biden approved a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Texas authorizing FEMA to provide Individual Assistance to 77 counties. On February 22, additional counties were added.

Eligible Expenses

FEMA’s Individual Assistance (IA) program provides financial assistance and to eligible individuals and households who have uninsured and underinsured necessary expenses and serious needs for their primary residence. 

The program is not a substitute for insurance and cannot pay for all losses caused by a disaster. You can, however, apply for assistance after having filed an insurance claim if you have unmet needs that FEMA may find to be eligible.

Disaster assistance may include grants to help pay for:

  • Emergency home repairs for disaster-related damage to the primary residence.
  • Uninsured and underinsured personal property losses.
  • Lodging expenses reimbursement, for individuals whose home was inaccessible or unhabitable during the disaster, if not covered by insurance or any other program.
  • Medical expenses incurred from the disaster.
  • Other serious disaster-related expenses.

It is important to note that FEMA does not provide assistance for energy price spikes or to address utility bills.

FEMA also cannot reimburse for food lost due to a power failure. Voluntary organizations in your communities may be able to assist. Residents are encouraged to call (877) 541-7905 for San Antonio, or (512) 445-0022 for Austin.

You can apply to have your SNAP benefits replaced if you can demonstrate you lost food because of the disaster by downloading and filling out this formMail or fax the completed form to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) at PO Box 149027, Austin, TX, 78714-9027, or fax it to 1-877-447-2839.

Applying for Individual Assistance

FEMA recommends that survivors contact their insurance company to file a claim before applying for FEMA assistance. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses covered by insurance. FEMA does not cover insurance deductibles.

The quickest and easiest way to apply for Individual Assistance is by visiting www.disasterassistance.gov or by downloading the FEMA App.

 If it is not possible to register online, call 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585).

What you need to apply:

  • Proof of occupancy or ownership;
  • Proof of identification;
  • Insurance determination letter; and
  • Description of damage, including photos if possible

Survivors who registered with FEMA IA and were ineligible or have received no decision, will receive notification explaining the eligibility and the reason for that decision. Some common reasons for a no decision or ineligible determination include:

  • The survivor is insured and needs to provide an insurance settlement or denial to be considered for assistance.
  • Additional information is needed from the survivor.
  • The home is safe to occupy, and/or property had minimum or no damage.
  • There were multiple registrations using the same address.

Many of these issues can be resolved by uploading necessary or missing information to disasterassistance.gov or by contacting the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585).

What’s Next?

Once you have registered for assistance, you can check on the status of your application, or add new information to your application such as change of email, home address, phone number, insurance settlement, additional damage that have been discovered, by visiting the disaster assistance website or calling the toll free number listed above.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is now accepting applicants. Homeowners, renters, and businesses in the 77 designated IA counties are eligible for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

The SBA can be contacted at 1-800-659-2955 or by visiting www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.

Avoiding Scams

Scam attempts can be made over the phone, by mail or email, or in person. It is important to remain alert, ask questions and always ask for identification when someone claims to represent FEMA or another government agency. The most common types of post-disaster fraud include phony housing inspectors, fraudulent building contractors, pleas for disaster donations, and offers of municipal or federal aid in exchange for a fee.

You should report suspected fraud to local law enforcement agencies. You can also contact the Texas Office of the Attorney General by calling 800-621-0508 or call the free FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 available 24-hours a day.

For tips about how to find and hire a reliable contractor visit this resource from the Better Business Bureau.  

Link: https://www.bbb.org/article/tips/14081-bbb-tip-hiring-a-contractor

Applicants May Appeal FEMA’s Determination Letter

Survivors of February’s severe winter storms in Texas who registered with FEMA may have received a determination letter regarding your eligibility for assistance. Read the letter carefully. It may not be the final answer. FEMA may simply need extra documents to process your application. Every applicant may appeal FEMA’s decision.

Examples of missing documentation may include an insurance settlement letter, proof of residence, proof of ownership of the damaged property, or proof that the damaged property was your primary residence at the time of the disaster.

Read more here.

By appealing, you are asking FEMA to review your case. If you have questions, call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621- 3362. TTY users may call 800-462-7585. Lines are open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. CST daily.

Texas Department of Insurance (TDI)

For additional resources from the Texas Department of Insurance please visit the following link: https://www.tdi.texas.gov/consumer/storms/recoverytips.html

Winter Storm FAQ

For answers to common questions about policies and filing claims after a disaster visit the TDI Winter Storm FAQ. For information about your specific coverage, check your policy and call your insurance agent or company. You can also call the TDI Help Line at 800-252-3439.

Insurance tips following winter storms

If your home was damaged due to a broken water pipe, downed tree limbs, or other winter damage, contact your insurance company or agent to file a claim as soon as possible. These tips will help make the process go smoother:

Make a list of damaged property. Take pictures or video of the damage. Don't throw anything away until your insurance company tells you to.

Take steps to protect your home from further damage. Turn off the water and cover broken windows and holes in your roof if possible. Save all receipts. Your policy may cover these costs.

Try to be there when the insurance company comes to inspect the damage. If you can’t stay in your home, leave a note with information on where you can be reached.

Keep a list of everyone you talk to at your insurance company. Be ready to answer questions about the damage.

Ask about additional living expenses. If you can’t live in your home due to the damage, your insurance policy may pay for some of those expenses.

Avoid fraud

  • Get more than one bid. That will help you decide which offers are too high or too good to be true.
  • Check references and phone numbers. Call the Better Business Bureau to see if a contractor has complaints.
  • Don't pay up front and don’t make your final payment until the job is finished. In a disaster, contractors from outside your area can’t ask for payment before they start work.
  • Avoid contractors who offer to waive your deductible or promise a rebate for it. That’s illegal under state law and your insurance company may ask for proof that you paid it.
  • Never sign a contract with blank spaces.
  • Report possible price gouging to the Office of the Attorney General.

For more information, see: Help after the storm and FAQ about coverage and claims.

Consejos de seguro para después de las tormentas invernales

Si su casa sufrió daños debido a una tubería de agua rota, ramas de árboles caídas u otros daños durante el invierno, comuníquese con su compañía de seguros o agente para presentar una reclamación lo antes posible. Los siguientes consejos ayudarán a que el proceso se lleve a cabo sin complicaciones:

Haga una lista de la propiedad que resultó dañada. Tome fotografías o videos de los daños. No tire nada hasta que su compañía de seguros se lo indique.

Tome medidas para proteger su casa de daños mayores. De ser posible, cierre el agua y cubra las ventanas rotas y los agujeros en su techo. Guarde todos los recibos. Su póliza puede cubrir estos costos.

Trate de estar presente cuando la compañía de seguros venga a inspeccionar los daños. Si usted no puede permanecer en su casa, deje una nota con información sobre dónde se le puede localizar.

Mantenga una lista de todas las personas con las que habla en su compañía de seguros. Esté preparado para responder preguntas sobre los daños.

Pregunte sobre los gastos adicionales de la vida diaria. Si usted no puede vivir en su casa debido a los daños, su póliza de seguro puede pagar por algunos de esos gastos.

Evite el fraude

  • Obtenga más de una oferta. Eso le ayudará a decidir qué ofertas son demasiado altas o buenas para ser verdad.
  • Verifique las referencias y los números de teléfono. Llame al Better Business Bureau para averiguar si un contratista tiene quejas.
  • No pague por adelantado y no haga su pago final hasta que el trabajo haya sido terminado. En caso de un desastre, los contratistas de fuera de su área no pueden solicitar que se les pague antes de comenzar a trabajar.
  • Evite a los contratistas que le ofrezcan excluir su deducible o que le prometan un reembolso. Esto es ilegal bajo la ley estatal y su compañía de seguros podría solicitar un comprobante de que usted pagó su deducible.
  • Nunca firme un contrato con espacios en blanco.
  • Reporte posibles aumentos ilícitos de precios a la Oficina del Procurador General.

Para obtener más información, consulte: Ayuda después de la tormenta.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

For those affected by the 2021 winter storms, my office held a virtual lunch & learn to explain FEMA’s SBA Disaster Loan program and answer any questions about applying, coverage, and what happens next.  You can find the presentation here: SBA Disaster Assistance Winter Storms.

In consideration of the public health concerns due to the Coronavirus pandemic, on Tuesday, Feb. 23, SBA will establish a Virtual Business Recovery Center to provide personalized assistance to business owners.  In addition, SBA will also open a Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center to help homeowners and renters.  Customer Service Representatives will be available to business owners and individuals to answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each person complete their electronic loan application.

Virtual Business Recovery Center and

Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center

Monday – Friday

8 a.m. – 8 p.m. EDT

FOCWAssistance@sba.gov

(800) 659-2955

Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available to businesses regardless of any property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Interest rates can be as low as 3 percent for businesses, 2 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 1.25 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, survivors must first contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency at www.disasterassistance.gov. Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

En consideración a los problemas de salud pública debido al pandémico Coronavirus, el Martes 23 de Febrero, la SBA establecerá un Centro de Recuperación Virtual de Negocios para darles asistencia personalizada a los dueños de negocios. Además, la SBA también abrirá un Centro Virtual de Promoción y Asistencia para ayudarles a los dueños de casa e inquilinos. Representantes del Servicio al Cliente estarán disponibles a los dueños de negocios e individuos para contestar las preguntas sobre el programa de préstamos para desastres de SBA, explicar el proceso de solicitar un préstamo y ayudarle a cada persona a completar su solicitud de préstamo electrónicamente.

Centro Virtual de Recuperación de Negocios y

Centro Virtual de Promoción y Asistencia

Lunes a Viernes

8 a.m. a 8 p.m. (hora del Este)

FOCWAssistance@sba.gov

(800) 659-2955

Los Negocios de cualquier tamaño y las organizaciones sin fines de lucro privadas pueden solicitar préstamos hasta de $2 millones de dólares para reparar o reemplazar bienes inmuebles, maquinarias y equipos, inventarios y otros activos. Además, SBA puede prestar fondos adicionales a negocios y dueños de casas para ayudar con el costo de mejoras para proteger, prevenir o minimizar que el mismo tipo de daños ocurran en el futuro.

SBA ofrece Préstamos de Desastres para Pérdidas Económicas a los pequeños negocios, pequeñas cooperativas agrícolas, pequeños negocios involucrados en acuacultura y a la mayoría de organizaciones sin fines de lucro privadas de todos tamaños para ayudarles a cubrir necesidades de capital de trabajo causadas por el desastre. La asistencia para pérdidas económicas está disponible independientemente de si el negocio sufrió algún daño físico en la propiedad.

Los préstamos de desastres disponibles para dueños de casas pueden ser hasta de $200,000 para reparar o reemplazar bienes raíces dañados o destruidos. Dueños de casas e inquilinos pueden solicitar hasta $40,000 para reparar o reemplazar su propiedad personal dañada o destruida.

Las tasas de interés de los préstamos pueden ser tan bajas hasta de 3 por ciento para negocios, 2 por ciento para organizaciones sin fines de lucro privadas y 1.25 por ciento para dueños de casas e inquilinos, por plazos de hasta 30 años. Los montos y términos de los préstamos son establecidos por SBA y se basan en las condiciones financieras de cada solicitante.

Para ser considerados para recibir todas las formas de asistencia de desastres, los sobrevivientes deben contactar primero a la Agencia Federal para el Manejo de Emergencias (FEMA) en www.disasterassistance.gov. Los interesados pueden llenar una solicitud en línea, recibir información adicional sobre asistencia de desastres y descargar la solicitud de préstamo en https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/. También pueden comunicarse al Centro de Servicio a Clientes para Asistencia de Desastres de SBA marcando (800) 659‑2955 o enviando un correo electrónico a disastercustomerservice@sba.gov para obtener mayor información. Las personas sordas o con problemas de audición pueden llamar al (800) 877‑8339. Las solicitudes completadas en papel deben enviarse por correo a U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.