Winter Storm | Advocate Toolkit

In response to the historic winter storm - this toolkit will be regularly updated as more resources to support long-term recovery are identified.

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FEMA Disaster Response

Over 100 counties in Texas are now eligible for federal assistance to help recover from the winter storm. Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid has created a helpful map that identifies what counties are eligible for, and other FEMA assistance information.  

If your property has been damaged by the storm, you should file a claim with your insurance and then apply for assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The application process through FEMA will also include consideration for Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans, which are available to both individual homeowners, nonprofits, and small businesses.    

When applying, please keep in mind FEMA programs do not pay for fuel or cover food losses. Have the following information available:

  • A current phone number where you can be contacted
  • Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you are now staying
  • Your Social Security number, if available
  • A general list of damage and losses
  • If insured, the insurance policy number, or the agent and company name

Some non-citizens can also apply for FEMA assistance. Find more information about that at TexasLawHelp.org’s Disaster Relief for Immigrants page.  

For more information, visit https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ . To learn more about the small business loans, visit https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance.  

Tips to avoid fraud and scams during repairs and recovery

Unfortunately, there are people and companies who try to take advantage of those during and after a disaster. Below are some resources on avoiding fraud and scams during disaster recovery.

• FEMA has compiled popular scams occurring now called “Rumor Control”. View the Texas Severe Winter Storm page to read the scams FEMA is currently aware of.  

• The Texas Department of Insurance offers advice on how to avoid scams and steps to take after the winter storms.  

• If you suspect a company of price gouging because of disaster, there is a way to report it. Find more information here.

• RAISE Texas compiled a tip sheet on avoiding contractor scams in relationship to disaster repairs, read it here.

Basic Human Needs Resources

Water

The Red Cross and local areas are setting up water distribution centers across the state. Call 211 to locate your nearest distribution center.

Rural programs in need of repairs for broken pipes or other recovery needs to access clean water can apply for an Emergency Water Assistance Grant.  

Food

Find your local food bank

Texas Foodbank Network Providers: A list of statewide food banks that can also aid in applying for SNAP benefits.

WIC Benefit Replacement: Contact your local WIC office to replace food purchased with WIC benefits that was lost or destroyed due to the storm.

Apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Benefits: Hot food and prepared foods can be purchased using SNAP benefits at this time.  

SNAP Benefit Replacement: If food purchased with SNAP benefits was lost or destroyed due to the storm you can apply for replacement benefits. You can call 2-1-1, select a language, and then choose Option 2. Or you can complete form H1855 but please note that you when you click on the form it may not appear. However, you can still download the form (click the arrow on the top right corner) and save it to your computer. Then open the form in Adobe, not in your web browser. The form can be mailed to Texas Health & Human Services Commission, PO Box 149027, Austin, TX 78714-9027 or faxed to 1-877-447-2839.

Power

Please remember that during a disaster, you can re-route your hotline to NVDH if necessary. ADD RESOURCES. For specific questions about what happens to your hotline when power is down, we would suggest talking to your phone or internet provider to learn possible solutions.  

If you bought a generator as a result of the disaster and are in a FEMA declared disaster county, you may be able to receive a reimbursement.  Energy.gov provides information on Using Portable/Emergency Generators Safely.

For the future, here is a Map that shows continual outages across Texas.

Housing Supports

On Monday, February 22, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) shared a press release announcing disasters assistance for victims of Texas severe winter storm.  Remember that we have US Department of Treasury Rental Assistance for those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For survivors not housed within your shelter, the below Tenant Rights resources may be helpful.  

Information Coming Soon...

Comprehensive List of Resources

Many organizations have already compiled incredibly helpful lists of resources. Please review below:

Natural Disaster Relief Hotlines and Clinics: A list from TexasLawHelp.org that includes state, federal, and legal resources.  

Legal Services and Assistance

Texas Weather Crisis Assistance: Food, water, and city-specific resources for Austin, Dallas-Ft. Worth, El Paso, Houston, and San Antonio.

Austin Disaster Relief Services Survivor Assistance: Provides a variety of services, such as financial assistance, transportation, volunteer clean-up labor, household supplies and more. Requests for assistance can be made through the Disaster Survivor Hotline at 512-806-0800.  

HHS Disaster Assistance: Provides a variety of services, including assistance with food, housing and other needs.  

Texas Mutual Aid Directory: Statewide resources.

A comprehensive list of resources from Texas Monthly.

Texas Homeless Network: Comprehensive list of Texas winter storm resources.

National Disaster Legal Aid Resource Center