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Tornado survivors still in need of help as damage assessment continues in Williamson County

Debris from a destroyed home hit by a tornado in Round Rock.
Michael Minasi
A tornado ripped through a Round Rock neighborhood and damaged hundreds of homes last week.

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Toiletries are the most immediate need for families affected by the tornadoes in Williamson County last week, County Judge Bill Gravell said at a news conference Wednesday.

The Red Cross is asking people to drop off donations at the Williamson County Expo Center in Taylor. The Austin Disaster Relief Network and local churches are also accepting donations for relief and recovery.

"Meeting those immediate needs is pretty important and pretty significant," Gravell said.

He said emergency response teams are still on the ground taking a count of damaged structures — which is currently up to about 1,100.

"I think those assessments will take days to accomplish," he said.

The City of Round Rock reported that more than 600 homes were damaged, causing about $32 million in damage. Jarrell reported nearly 30 homes were damaged.

Ben Akers, a representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said it's too early to tell whether Williamson County will qualify for federal aid. People who are eligible for help would get grants that don't need to be repaid.

"We're going door to door speaking with some individuals about the extent of the damages, uploading that information into a statewide system," he said. "And then the governor of Texas will utilize that information to determine the potential need for federal resources to supplement state and local resources."

The field operations manager for the Austin Disaster Relief Network said it is offering emotional and spiritual care.

"One of our goals is to connect each of these survivors, that has requested it, with a member of our local church that has been trained specifically on how to walk forward with a survivor of a disaster," Tim Dale said.

Gravell said the greatest need residents impacted by the tornadoes will have is financial.

"I'm grateful for FEMA. And I'm grateful for the TDEM [Texas Division of Emergency Management] and for the Small Business Administration," he said. "But the reality is people have needs today."

Allyson Ortegon is a former Williamson County reporter for KUT.
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