Around this time in February, Texas was in the middle of a winter storm with unprecedented snow, ice, and cold temperatures. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have federal help available for those who are recovering from the damages from the Winter Storm. I am writing today to remind you that the deadline to apply for assistance through these programs is this Thursday, May 20.
FEMA provided the following checklist to help people recover as completely as possible. I hope you will consider sharing this information with friends and family who you think will find this helpful:
- Register with FEMA before 11:59 PM CT on Thursday, May 20: If you have unmet needs as a result of the winter storms, register for federal assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov, through the FEMA App, or call FEMA’s Helpline at (800) 621-3362 [TTY: (800) 462-7585], 6AM-10PM CT daily.
- Apply to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) before the May 20 deadline: Next to insurance, an SBA low-interest disaster loan is the primary source of funds for property repairs and for replacing contents destroyed during the February storms. To apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the SBA, complete an online application at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
- Verify your home’s heating and septic systems are functioning: When you register, report any damage to your furnace, septic tank or water heater as a result of the disaster. If your home has already been inspected and the damage wasn’t identified, you may send FEMA a dated and signed letter within 60 days of your initial FEMA decision, along with a contractor’s estimate, indicating you are appealing for assistance with these items. Keep in mind: If you need to replace your furnace or septic system, you may have the option to appeal for additional grant funding through FEMA.
- Ensure your private well wasn’t impacted by the winter storms. If you lost access to water through your private well due to the February disaster, the cost of repair may be considered. FEMA may provide assistance or reimbursement for the cost of professional assessment associated with the repair or replacement of components to the well. When verifiable receipts or estimates are submitted with your appeal letter, FEMA may pay up to the actual cost of the receipt or estimate for your well. If your home has been inspected and the well wasn’t reported, or if additional assistance for the item is needed, you may send FEMA a dated and signed letter, along with a contractor’s estimate, indicating you are appealing for the well. Any appeal must be submitted within 60 days of your initial FEMA decision. If you have insurance, check to see if a damaged well is covered under your policy as they are typically uninsurable.
- Examine your vehicle. If your vehicle was damaged or destroyed in the winter storms, FEMA may provide financial assistance. Assistance is usually limited to one vehicle per household. For questions about eligibility requirements, call the Other Needs Assistance helpline at (800) 582-5233.
- Know your appeal options. If you disagree with FEMA’s decisions, you have the option to submit an appeal letter with additional documentation to have your case reconsidered. The appeal should be submitted within 60 days of the initial FEMA decision and include a letter explaining what you are appealing, be signed and dated, and include supporting documentation, such as a copy of a verifiable contractor’s estimate.
My office and I are here to help if you have any questions. Please feel free to contact me here
or call (713) 353-8680.