Emergency and crisis management can be a confusing and complex process, but our local officials—the boots on the ground—are working tirelessly to address the crises of people in each of our East Texas counties. In heartfelt appreciation, I want to acknowledge our County Judges and Commissioners, Mayors and Councilmembers, Emergency Management Departments, Sheriff’s Departments, non-profit organizations, churches, and so many others for the work they’ve done to help people in trouble through trying times. Thank you to the unsung heroes, Good Samaritans, and the neighbors who have stepped up for our communities in recent weeks.
With that, here’s an update from your State Capitol…
Major Disaster Declaration Update
On February 20th, the White House partially approved Texas’s request for Individual Assistance for all 254 Texas counties, activating the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for additional resources to Texas counties. The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) will continue to present information to FEMA until all Texas counties that qualify for federal assistance receive the designation they need. TDEM created an online form to help gather information about the damages caused by the storm. You can fill out the Texas Individual Assistance Reporting Tool here: www.tdem.texas.gov/warm.
Helpful Tips For Responding to a Crisis
In addition to the tool from above, many of you will be looking to make insurance claims on damaged property. I cannot stress enough that proper documentation is key to covering your bases and protecting yourself from potential fraud. Documenting your damages and expenditures with receipts and pictures will help when applying for local, state, and federal disaster relief resources.
Further, trust but verify contractors going door-to-door offering clean-up and repair services. Ask to see the proper license and make sure you have a contract in writing. The Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) actively investigates reports of price gouging and scams. To report price gouging and to learn more about disaster and emergency scams, visit the Consumer Protection page on the OAG’s website. You may also call the OAG’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800- 621-0508.
Governor Abbott recently announced that power will not be shut off for those who cannot pay their energy bill until matters with the state’s electric grid are resolved. Should you have questions, or need additional assistance, residents in the FEMA Declared Counties may visit https://disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362 between the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., seven days a week.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/