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Energy & Environment
Central Texas experienced historic winter weather the week of Feb. 14, with a stretch of days below freezing. Sleet followed snow followed freezing rain, leading to a breakdown of the electric grid and widespread power outages. Water reservoirs were depleted and frozen pipes burst, leaving some without service for days.

Did The Winter Storm Damage Your Home Or Business? Here Are Some Ways To Get Help.

Plumber_GP_Feb21.jpg
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
Plumber Trevor Ayer works on a water pipe break at a home in East Austin on Sunday.

The severe weather last week left many Texans with damages to their homes and businesses. And now many are struggling to get food.

Here are some ways to get help.

Property Damages

President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for counties in Texas, including Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop and Caldwell, opening up federal assistance to residents. The aid includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property losses, and other programs for people and businesses impacted by the storm.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says to take photos of your damaged property and belongings and make a list of damaged items.

If you have insurance, you should first contact your insurance company and file a claim. Information on your insurance claim is needed to determine if you’re eligible for federal assistance. If you are uninsured or underinsured, you can go ahead and start applying.

FEMA says the fastest way to apply for help is online at DisasterAssistance.gov. You can also call 1-800-621-3362. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a Text Telephone, call 800-462-7585.

You can also visit Texas 211 or call 211 to get help with needs your insurance doesn’t cover.

The City of Austin created this webpage to help residents and business owners navigate storm repairs. It has information about plumbers and electricians in the area, as well as code compliance and permitting resources.

You can find answers to questions like what kind of repairs require a permit and which do not here. If you have specific emergency repair permitting questions, you can call 512-974-1500 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Austin Council Members voted Thursday to waive permitting fees for people needing to repair businesses and homes damaged by the storm. The city says not all emergency repairs require a permit. For those that do, residents can apply for them after starting the repair.

Council members also voted to waive the requirement that plumbers be registered with the city before doing work. Council Member Alison Alter said plumbers from outside the city will be arriving in Austin on Monday to help with repairs.

The city has also created an emergency home repair program that will provide low-income homeowners grants of up to $10,000 to fix damage from the storm. If you're eligible, you'll be connected with a nonprofit organization that will administer the grant and repairs. You can review eligibility requirements and apply here.

Food Loss

If you’re a recipient of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), you can apply for replacement benefits for food lost or destroyed due to the storm by calling 211. Some recipients don’t need to apply, because Texas got approval from the federal government to automatically provide replacement benefits to residents in 66 counties.

Recipients who live in those counties will have benefits added to their Lone Star cards by March 4. In Central Texas, those counties include Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Gillespie and Williamson.

More Resources

  • The Central Texas Food Bank has a map of where to find food now.
  • Austin Independent School District will resume its curbside meal service for children and their caregivers on Thursday. Find locations here.
  • Austin-Travis County have been distributing ready-to-eat meals at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex at 1156 Hargrave St. in East Austin. Find the latest dates and times here. They’re also distributing cases of water. Find those locations here.
  • ConnectATX lists more food distributions happening in the area.
  • You can visit Texas 211 or call 211 to find food resources in your area.

KUT's Audrey McGlinchy contributed to this story.

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