On February 19, 2021, President Joseph Biden approved a major disaster declaration for the following Texas counties: Angelina, Aransas, Bastrop, Bee, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Brazoria, Brazos, Brown, Burleson, Caldwell, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Collin, Comal, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Dallas, Denton, DeWitt, Ellis, Falls, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gillespie, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hood, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Kendall, Lavaca, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Maverick, McLennan, Montague, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Nueces, Orange, Palo Pinto, Panola, Parker, Polk, Rockwall, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Scurry, Shelby, Smith, Stephens, Tarrant, Travis, Tyler, Upshur, Van Zandt, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Wharton, Wichita, Williamson, Wilson and Wise.
On February 23, 2021, an additional 31 Texas counties were added to the above list: Anderson, Austin, Bosque, Bowie, Burnet, Cherokee, Colorado, Erath, Fannin, Freestone, Gonzalez, Grayson, Gregg, Harrison, Hill, Houston, Hunt, Jackson, Jim Wells, Jones, Limestone, Lubbock, Medina, Milam, Navarro, Rusk, Taylor, Tom Green, Val Verde, Washington, and Wood. Click here for the press release.
On February 26, 2021, an additional 18 counties were added to the above list: Atascosa, Bandera, Brooks, Duval, Eastland, Ector, Goliad, Howard, Jim Hogg, Karnes, Kleberg, Leon, Llano, Newton, Robertson, Trinity, Webb and Willacy. Click here for the press release.
Federal assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Click here for a helpful publication from Lone Star Legal Aid regarding how FEMA can help. Note your deadline to apply for assistance is April 20, 2021.
Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, downloading the FEMA app, or by calling 1-800-621-3362 (1-800-462-7585 TTY).
If you live in a county not listed above, report your damages to www.TDEM.Texas.gov/warm. The Texas Division of Emergency Management is providing FEMA with damage totals so they can make a determination to provide assistance to these additional counties.
Disaster Relief - Free Legal Assistance & Information
Click here for a listing of places and resources that can help you recover from the disaster.
Click below for publications regarding a variety of winter storm legal issues that may be helpful:
- Click here for a question and answer bank section on common questions people have related to disasters.
- Click here for information on Texas Energy Assistance Programs.
- Click here for information on renters rights and how to request repairs from your landlord (Lone Star Legal Aid).
- Click here for information on replacement SNAP/food stamps (Lone Star Legal Aid).
- Click here for information on how to submit a homeowners insurance claim (Lone Star Legal Aid).
- Click here for information on FEMA and how it can help you (Lone Star Legal Aid). This brochure is also available in Spanish and Vietnamese.
- Click here for information on avoiding home repair fraud (Lone Star Legal Aid).
- Click here for information on disaster unemployment assistance (Lone Star Legal Aid).
- Click here for information on navigating insurance steps (Lone Star Legal Aid).
- Click here for a Public Utility Commission 2/21/21 press release regarding a series of orders which among other things, immediately suspends electricity disconnections for nonpayment and requires deferred payment plans for customers of investor owned utilities (Oncor, AEP, CenterPoint, TNMP).
- Click here for information from the IRS regarding tax deadline extensions and other tax relief.
Community and local programs offering assistance (check city and county websites for the latest resources):
Dallas: Homeowners who need help paying for up to $10,000 in repairs can start applying for reimbursements through the city’s housing department by calling 214-670-3644 or filling out an online application and emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Residents will also have to provide proof of identification and household income, damages and home ownership.
1) The Waterline Assistance Through Emergency Repairs (WATER) program has been expanded to include water line repair, gas line repair, and water heater repairs; income limits also were increased to help more residents. Read more here about eligibility and the application process.
2) The Fort Worth Water Department offers help for low-income homeowners who need financial assistance fixing minor water leaks through a new water conservation program called SmartRepair. This program covers minor plumbing repairs, including fixing or replacing leaking toilets, faucets, hose bibs, broken pipes, and installation of water-conserving fixtures. Click here for application information.
Disaster Relief Resources
Visit Ready.gov for steps you can take to recover from a disaster.
Please click the link above for over 20 useful articles on the law affecting you as you recover from the disaster. Resources include information on:
Please click the link above for the national disaster legal aid website. It is specifically designed to help those who are having issues related to natural disasters.
The American Red Cross is on site and ready to help those affected by the disaster:
- Find Shelter and Food
- Find Family Members
- And More
The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies specializes in providing inclusive relief to those with disabilities. If you or someone you know needs medical equipment or help accessing emergency programs, they can help.
To find local treatment, support groups, and other mental health and substance abuse resources, call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The National Helpline is operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. You can also visit the National Helpline webpage for more information.
The State Bar of Texas has put together a page detailing the various forms of assistance available to help. Please visit the Texas Bar's disaster webpage more information.
The State Bar of Texas legal hotline helps people find answers to basic legal questions and connects them with local legal aid providers following declared disasters.
The National Center on Law and Elder Rights has the following tips and resources tho help professionals assist clients after a disaster:
- Quick Tips to Help Older Homeowners Access Insurance Benefits after a Disaster: This practice tip provide advocates with information on advising older homeowners filing insurance claims.
- Legal Services and Disaster Assistance for Older Adults: This collection of resources is for legal assistance providers and advocates working with older adults during and after a disaster. This document is provided as a resource to attorney volunteers who are fielding questions from those affected by disasters.
Legal Aid Disaster Resource Center
Seeing Unusually High Prices? Report Price Gouging.
Attorney General Ken Paxton warns Texans that state law prohibits price gouging in the wake of a declared disaster. The AG’s office advises: If you feel that you are being unfairly charged for goods or services such as drinking water, food, batteries, generators, gasoline, or towing, raise the issue of price gouging with the provider. Speak to the provider respectfully but be frank. If you are unable to resolve the matter, file a complaint with the office.
Winter Storm Uri - Supreme Court of Texas Updates
- The Texas Supreme Court has noted on its website: "The Court recognizes that many across Texas are facing weather-related outages. The Court's current 33rd emergency order is broad and allows all courts to modify or suspend any and all deadlines and procedures to accommodate those affected." Read the Court's 33rd emergency order here.
The Supreme Court of Texas has issued a Winter Storm Uri emergency order permitting out of state attorneys to practice Texas law temporarily. The order can be found here. Out of state attorneys must register here before providing pro bono services. Once the registration has been reviewed, the out of state attorney will receive an approval letter that they will need to provide to the organization they wish to volunteer with before providing pro bono legal services.
Preparing for Future Winter Storms
Video: Disaster Recovery Tips
Lone Star Legal Aid has tips to help you get help, repair damage, and recover from Winter Storm Uri.