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Texans Affected By February's Winter Storm Have Until May 20 To Apply For FEMA Aid

Snow covers the street in a neighborhood in North Austin after last month's winter storm.
Julia Reihs
Snow covers the street in a neighborhood in North Austin after last month's winter storm.

The deadline to apply for federal assistance following February's severe winter storm is May 20.

If you live in one of the 126 counties designated for assistance and were affected by the storm, you may be eligible for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen, a qualified national or have a child at home with a Social Security number.

According to FEMA, 51,639 applications have been approved for more than $161 million in aid.

“Not enough people have taken advantage of this opportunity,” FEMA spokesperson Maria Figueroa said.

She said she thinks that’s because a lot of people had burst pipes that were covered by insurance. But the grants can help with an array of storm-related expenses.

The agency is providing grants to help pay for damages caused to water, septic and sewage systems. Grants can also be used to help renters pay for rent and security deposits if their homes became uninhabitable because of flooding, for example. As of last week, 16,068 homeowners and 20,781 renters received FEMA assistance.

“There have been cases where the landlord of the damaged property has told renters that they must turn over their money,” Figueroa said. “That is not the case. That money is for the renter to find alternative housing.”

The disaster grants can also be used to pay for moving and storage costs, increased child care expenses, repairing or replacing a flooded essential vehicle, uninsured medical or dental injury care, and school or work tools like books and computers.

Figueroa said the grants do not need to be paid back. They will not be included in a person's taxable income or affect Social Security, federal pension or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

To register, you need to input only your Social Security number, the address of the damages, a description of the damage, a phone number, a mailing address, and bank account and routing number by the May 20 deadline. Having estimates and receipts available will help move the process along faster.

You can register for assistance through the FEMA app, online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-62-FEMA.

Copyright 2021 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Sangita Menon