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Energy & Environment

How to get help after Monday's tornadoes in Central Texas

Houses and trees are damaged on Gattis School Road in Round Rock after a tornado hit the area on Monday evening.
Patricia Lim
/
KUT
Houses and trees are damaged on Gattis School Road in Round Rock after a tornado hit the area on Monday evening.

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Several tornadoes ripped through Central Texas on Monday, leaving some residents with damaged homes and businesses.

Here’s how to get help in the storm’s aftermath:

Home damage assistance

People who have had their homes damaged by the tornadoes can reach out to the Red Cross for help by calling 1-833-583-3115. The organization provides shelter, food and mental health support to those impacted by tornadoes.

Those affected can also reach out for help from the Austin Disaster Relief Network, a collaboration of local churches and trained volunteers who aid people impacted by disasters. The organization has opened a Central Texas Tornadoes Relief Fund to help those in need. Call the disaster survivor hotline for assistance: 512-806-0800.

People in Bastrop who suffered damage from the storms can also seek help (clean up, repair and other assistance) from the Bastrop Long Term Recovery Team. Call 512-303-4300 and choose “damages and assistance for repairs.”

Local churches in Williamson County are also helping those impacted. People who need help with cleanup can fill out this form from Celebration Church.

Filing an insurance claim

Richard Johnson, the director of communications and public affairs for the Insurance Council of Texas, said the most important thing to do in the aftermath of severe weather is to start the claims process.

“The easiest way to do that is just start documenting it,” Johnson said. “Get those pictures done before you start making those emergency repairs."

Emergency repairs can include things like boarding up a window or throwing a tarp over a damaged roof.

"If you have the ability to take a video and you're able to kind of walk through and survey any of the damage that's done, it's just going to make that claims process go a whole lot easier and a whole lot smoother if you can document that damage up front before your insurance company sends an adjuster out,” Johnson said.

Johnson said to beware of some “fly-by-night” contractors who tend to swoop in from out of state after disasters.

“They're looking to take advantage of people that they know have that insurance money in their pocket,” he said.

Instead, use contractors recommended by friends, family or neighbors. Your insurance company might also have a network of professionals in the area.

Reporting damage

The Texas Division of Emergency Management asks people to report property damage through the Individual State of Texas Assessment Tool damage survey. The information gathered helps officials understand the extent of damage and determine if the state meets federal requirements for disaster assistance. It also helps them identify resource needs. The survey can be filled out in English or Spanish online at damage.tdem.texas.gov. Scroll down and click “March Severe Weather.”

Storm debris and downed trees

People in Austin or Travis County who need help with storm debris can call 311 or 512-974-2000. They can also drop off brush at the Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plant. Downed trees can also be reported to 311 or 512-974-2000.

Round Rock residents who see fallen tree limbs blocking roads or sidewalks can report them to 512-688-0398. City officials say fallen trees on private property are the property owners’ responsibility. People who have damage to their homes are asked to separate construction debris from tree limbs and branches. Then stack the debris along the curb so equipment can reach them. The city says: “Do not place construction debris in your garbage container, and do not place any debris or tree limbs in the roadway. The City is working to arrange specialized pickup for these items.”

KUT's Riane Roldan contributed reporting.

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