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Photo/Michael Kormos

President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Texas and ordered federal assistance to aid state and local recovery efforts after severe winter storms. Affected homeowners and renters in the 77 counties designated for individual assistance may apply now for disaster assistance with FEMA.

Those counties include Angelina, Aransas, Bastrop, Bee, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Brazoria, Brazos, Brown, Burleson, Caldwell, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Collin, Comal, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Dallas, Denton, DeWitt, Ellis, Falls, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gillespie, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hood, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Kendall, Lavaca, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Maverick, McLennan, Montague, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Nueces, Orange, Palo Pinto, Panola, Parker, Polk, Rockwall, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Scurry, Shelby, Smith, Stephens, Tarrant, Travis, Tyler, Upshur, Van Zandt, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Wharton, Wichita, Williamson, Wilson, and Wise.

According to the president’s declaration, assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help people and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

If you have insurance and are applying for disaster assistance, you must also file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible.

By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses covered by insurance. If insurance does not cover all your damage, you may be eligible for federal assistance.

The fastest way to apply is online at www.disasterassistance.gov.

If you can’t register online, call 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

Those who use a relay service such as a videophone, Innocaption or CapTel should update FEMA with their specific number assigned to that service.

When you apply for assistance, have the following information readily 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

If it is safe to do so, start cleaning up now. Take photos to document damage and begin cleanup and repairs to prevent further damage. Remember to keep receipts from all purchases related to the cleanup and repair.

Federal funding is also available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures and hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration are available to businesses, homeowners and renters. Call the SBA at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 800-877-8339) or visit www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.

Gov. Greg Abbott requested the major disaster declaration Thursday for individual assistance and public assistance in all 254 counties.

"While this partial approval is an important first step, Texas will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure all eligible Texans have access to the relief they need,” Abbott said. “The funds provided under the Major Disaster Declaration may provide crucial assistance to Texans as they begin to repair their homes and address property damage.”

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