What to know about Williamson County's winter storm recovery efforts
It's been more than a week since the winter storm hit Central Texas, but local officials and residents in Williamson County are still dealing with the aftermath.
"I was born in Williamson County, and in my 58 years of being here and living here, I’ve never seen more storm damage," Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell told KUT. "The damage to trees is the most significant I’ve seen in my lifetime."
The widespread damage led Gravell and Williamson County Commissioners on Tuesday to extend the county's local disaster declaration until March 9.
The declaration, issued Jan. 31, opens up the possibility for the county and its residents to receive state and federal disaster relief funds. In order to qualify for these funds, the county must meet a certain threshold for damage. Williamson County has to have at least $2.7 million in recovery expenses. That dollar amount can include repairs to city and county property, as well as private property owners' and businesses' repair needs. The county is still in the process of documenting the cost of all the damage.
In addition to filing insurance claims, property owners are encouraged to report winter storm damage to the Texas Department of Emergency Management via the Individual State of Texas Assessment Tool (iSTAT) Damage Survey. The survey helps officials understand the extent of the damage that occurred as a result of the storm.
The county is currently in the process of cleaning up downed limbs and trees, Gravell said. He said all of the county roads and rights-of-way have been cleared, but the debris was just pushed to the roadsides because the county has not had the manpower or time to dispose of it.
"The debris has not been removed," he said. "And it will be there for the foreseeable future, as we, like cities and individuals, [are] finding contractors to come in and help us clean that up."
Unlike debris on county and city property, though, trees and limbs on personal property are the responsibility of homeowners.
Gravell said residents should first check with city officials to see if the city they live in will be providing any curbside pickup services or drop-off locations for storm debris. Residents can also now fill the back of a pickup truck with limbs and brush and drop it off at the Williamson County Landfill in Hutto for $10 now through Feb. 19, he said. The pricing only applies to noncommercial vehicles and excludes trailers.
"All of that will be mulched up eventually and will eventually be back in the gardens and parks across Williamson County," he said.
The same advice applies to residents in unincorporated parts of the county, Gravell said.
"If you live in the unincorporated areas of the county, you have a couple of options: First, I would encourage you to call the company that does garbage collection at your home," he said. "And possibly that private company will set something up in the days ahead."
If not, residents can take their tree limbs and brush the county landfill, he said.
Residents who are physically or financially limited can apply for assistance from the Austin Disaster Relief Network.
Gravell said the cleanup process will take time.
"Take your time in your debris removal and remember you don’t have to do it all today," he said. "It may take you a matter of days. Take your time. Do it right and be safe."
You can find debris cleanup information specific to where you live at the links below: