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What you need to know before you apply for FEMA money

Disaster assistance is available for individuals in fewer than half of all Texas counties.

AUSTIN, Texas — Federal emergency assistance for individuals is available for fewer than half of all Texas counties.

Initially, President Joe Biden approved the disaster declaration Feb. 19, 2021. It covered 77 counties. Those counties are: 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.

Then, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued an amendment Feb. 22, 2021.

The amendment expanded the number of counties eligible for individual assistance. Those counties are: 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 Counties.

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Disaster assistance can be used to help pay for temporary housing and home repairs.

Under the Stafford Act, FEMA can issue up to $34,900 for an individual seeking assistance.

Other than the direct money, disaster assistance can also lead to low-interest loans for things not insured.

RELATED: How to report winter storm damages, apply for aid in Texas

HOW TO APPLY:

  • File all appropriate claims with your insurance company first. FEMA will not duplicate benefits.
  • When applying with FEMA, “During the application process please ensure to select the cause of damage snow/ice amongst other damages that may have occurred,” FEMA’s website showed.
  • Have these documents ready:
    • Best phone number to be reached

    • Address where the damage happened

    • Address where you are staying now

    • Social security number (if available)

    • List of the damages and losses

    • If insured, show policy number or how to contact your insurance company

FEMA’s website shows you need to start cleaning up if it’s safe. Take photos of what was damaged, and keep all of your receipts.

For the counties not part of the disaster assistance, FEMA encourages reporting to Texas Division of Emergency Management.

The website tdem.texas.gov/warm shows a reporting tool which links to a submission form. Disaster assistance does not cover fuel or food. Call 211 to see what is available locally. Dial 211 or 877-541-7905. 

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