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Friday, May 24, 2024
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Damages from the Winter Storm? Deadline is May 20 to Apply for Federal Disaster Funds

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AUSTIN – If you had damages from the Texas winter storm, you still could get federal money to pay for repairs, housing, medical bills, and other expenses.

May 20 is the deadline to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency funds.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid attorneys can answer questions about applying for assistance – or, if FEMA has denied a claim, TRLA attorneys can help you appeal the denial.

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Besides staff attorneys, TRLA is working with private attorneys who are taking FEMA-related cases free of charge.

The ongoing pandemic has made it harder to obtain FEMA assistance and is likely the cause of lower-than-expected applications for disaster recovery funds.

Disaster survivors can register for FEMA assistance online, by phone, and through an app – but not in person at a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). Also, FEMA is primarily doing virtual inspections of damaged homes.

Typically, individuals applying for assistance or appealing a FEMA denial would be able to meet in person at DRCs with representatives of FEMA, other federal agencies, and legal-aid and volunteer attorneys.

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TRLA attorneys are available to speak to the media about applying for FEMA assistance and the need to open, with precautions, disaster recovery centers.

“The complete absence of disaster recovery centers means that people who have suffered damage from Winter Storm Uri are more likely to need help figuring out the financial assistance programs,” said Brittany Perrigue Gomez, the manager of TRLA’s disaster benefits team.

“It’s just as important that people who have been denied FEMA assistance know when and how to file an appeal,” Gomez said. “We can help individuals gather the documents needed to file an effective appeal.”

Many of the counties that suffered the most severe damage from the winter storm are in areas that don’t experience disasters such as hurricanes and flooding. As a result, TRLA is seeing fewer applications for assistance people in Central and South Texas.

“Many of the people who suffered damage from the winter storm don’t have the personal experience of navigating financial assistance programs,” Gomez said. “We’re here to provide that guidance.”

TRLA can help with your application. Apply for free legal services by calling 1-888-988-9996.

Guide to Applying for FEMA Assistance

Visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7575)

  • Specify that your damages are a result of snow/ice, not a flood 
  • Have the following information 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

  • Take photos of the damage 
  • Keep receipts from all purchases related to cleanup and repair 

If you’ve been denied FEMA assistance:

  • You have 60 days to appeal the denial 
  • FEMA may ask you to provide more information – if so, be aware of shorter deadlines for this additional information
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