Harris and Chambers counties are among six in Southeast Texas that encountered severe flooding by Tropical Storm Imelda and now have been declared a federal disaster area. 

Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to President Donald Trump Oct. 1 requesting a Presidential Disaster Declaration for the six counties. That request was granted over the weekend. 

The disaster declaration will help provide federal aid for residents in Chambers, Harris, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, and Orange counties. It also means residents can apply for individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

“I want to thank the President and FEMA for swiftly responding to Texas’ call for assistance following Tropical Storm Imelda,” Abbott said. “The state of Texas’ collaboration with the federal government will ensure our communities in the Gulf Coast region are equipped with the resources they need to recover as quickly as possible.”

Mark Miller, City of Baytown spokesman, stressed the importance of residents taking advantage of the FEMA assistance. 

“What this means to residents in Baytown in both Harris and Chambers counties is that they can now apply for individual assistance of up to $35,000 per household,” Miller said. “We urge residents to report damages and apply for these assistance funds for sustained damages.”

Miller said if residents have not reported damages yet, they should call them now at 1-800-621-FEMA or visit www.disasterassistance.gov.

FEMA Individual Disaster Assistance is available in a variety of forms for homeowners, certain types of renters, and businesses in Harris County. The application to apply for assistance is open through Dec. 3. 

For homes and primary residences, FEMA will provide assistance to individuals and families who have lost their homes as a result of a presidentially declared disaster. Renters and homeowners may qualify for assistance. Applicants cannot duplicate any assistance they receive from FEMA, but might be able to receive monetary damages for items not covered by insurance. In addition, FEMA does not offer assistance for secondary homes.

If you have a business damaged in the storm, FEMA might be able to help you. FEMA partners with the Small Business Administration, which offers low-interest loans for business damages. For the business loan application process, visit www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance.

FEMA also offers assistance for other disaster-caused expenses including, medical and dental, childcare, funeral and burial, essential household items, moving and storage, vehicle, and some cleanup items.

Imelda’s remnants dumped more than 40 inches, or 102 centimeters, of rain in some spots in the days after the storm. At least five deaths occurred as a result of the flooding. In Harris County, over 2,500 homes were flooded.

In Chambers County, Imelda left a serious mark. In some cases, it was worse than Hurricane Harvey in 2017. 

Chambers County Fire Marshal Ryan Holzaepfel said there are 635 homes in the county with minor damage, with 439 homes suffering major damage and 27 other homes destroyed.

“Typically, what will happen is applicants will sign up at disaster recovery centers,” Holzaepfel said. “We’ve talked about possible locations, but we do not know yet where they will be located. Usually, we try to set them up in the affected areas.”

Holzaepfel also encouraged Chambers County residents affected by Imelda to call or visit FEMA online immediately.

“This is so the process can get started,” he said. “They can start working on this, and that way, when the disaster recovery center gets open, you will be at least one step ahead.”

If you visit online at www.disasterassitance.gov, type in your address to see what aid is available in your area. 

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