Governor Greg Abbott and U.S. Senators Cruz and Cornyn urged President Donald Trump to issue a disaster declaration for areas of Texas inundated by Tropical Storm Imelda to pave the way for recovery assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal programs.
The joint letter from the senators supported the formal request from the governor for the federal disaster declaration for six of the 13 counties included in Abbott’s earlier disaster declaration.
“The Governor and local officials have informed us that the losses and property damage in these areas are of a magnitude that is beyond the response capability of the state and local government,” the letter said.
In his letter, Abbott said the affected counties are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Harvey two years earlier, and the state has suffered nine other major disasters in the last four years.
“Texans, first responders across the state, local officials, and volunteer organizations are exhausted,” Abbott said in his letter.
“Volunteer organizations in particular are suffering from fatigue and little money coming into their organizations to assist Texans.”
Federal law contains specific triggers for qualification for disaster declaration.
Chambers County Public Information Officer Ryan Holzaepfel said Tuesday, “The main question on everyone’s minds is if and when a Presidential Declaration will be made to allow FEMA assistance for individuals.
“As of this morning, FEMA assessment teams are still in several jurisdictions in the region gathering figures in order to reach the financial threshold required to trigger this declaration.
“It may be another week or so before these teams are finished, so no news at this point does not necessarily mean bad news.”
Abbott asked for federal disaster area status for Chambers, Harris, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery and Orange counties.
It does not include seven other counties that were affected less severely: Brazoria, Galveston, Hardin, Jasper, Matagorda, Montgomery and San Jacinto.
Volunteer organizations are already on the ground responding to the disaster.
The Chambers County Tropical Storm Imelda Resource Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday to host a “one-stop-shop” for recovery services at St. Louis Catholic Church at 315 Buccaneer Drive in Winnie.
Assistance applicants must provide identification and proof of address, such as a utility bill or vehicle registration.
Organizations present will be Samaritan’s Purse, Christian Aid Ministries (which is feeding people), Latter Day Saints, Convoy of Hope, St. Vincent De Paul, American Red Cross, National Flood Insurance and WIC.
Many of the organizations are doing cleanup.