Here are some of the assistance programs for Texas residents recovering from critical winter damage

Cars drive on a snow-covered Cooper Street on Feb. 16 in Arlington.

The recent winter storm has placed major financial burdens on many Arlington residents, but there are a number of national, state and local resources available to alleviate those struggles.

The record-breaking storm that left millions of Texans without power and water for days led to home and business damages, wage losses, medical expenses and more. Total damages of the storm are estimated in the billions of dollars, with some estimates topping $200 billion. 

Here are some of the assistance programs available to residents. 

FEMA 

Texans in over 100 counties, including Tarrant, Dallas, Kaufman, Parker and Johnson, can apply for federal home and business assistance through FEMA. 

As of Feb. 28, FEMA has granted more than $30 million to survivors in need. FEMA spokesperson Earl Armstrong said the maximum grant each household can claim is about $34,500, but the average money claimed from past disasters like Hurricane Harvey was around $3,000 to $5,000. 

Insured citizens must file a claim with their insurance company. If the settlement policy fails to meet disaster-related needs, that person will be eligible for federal funds. Uninsured citizens can directly apply for federal assistance. 

People should document any photos of property damage and keep receipts of all purchases related to the cleanup and repair, according to the FEMA website. 

To be eligible for disaster assistance, applicants must be U.S. citizens, noncitizen nationals or qualified immigrants. 

If an applicant does not meet the citizenship requirements, the household can still apply for certain forms of assistance if another household member or a minor child fits the criteria, Armstrong said. 

Eligible Texans who want to receive federal assistance should apply through the FEMA Disaster Assistance website

Those who cannot apply online can contact 800-621-3362 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can call 800-462-7585. 

Application waiting times may vary and could take a few days or even weeks to process, Armstrong said. 

U.S. Small Business Administration

In some cases, FEMA will refer small business owners to the U.S. Small Business Administration to apply for assistance. The organization offers low-interest loans and resources to small businesses because of President Joe Biden’s major disaster declaration. 

State assistance 

Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of Emergency Management are asking residents to complete a survey to help the state and emergency management officials identify damages that occurred during the storms. 

The voluntary survey is available in both English and Spanish. Residents who have limited or no internet access can call 844-844-3089 to submit their disaster damage information. 

The survey asks people to specify their location, describe the extent of the damage and upload damage photos.

City of Arlington assistance 

The city of Arlington will make billing changes for households that receive abnormal water bills from Feb. 13 to Feb. 28 due to plumbing, fire suppression, irrigation line breaks or dripping faucets to their homes or businesses. 

Arlington Water Utilities will provide a storm recovery credit based on the household’s water usage from previous billing periods. 

The credits will appear on bills for eligible households after March 1. It will also be issued to apartment complexes, condominiums and small businesses. 

Arlington Water Utilities is currently waiving late fees on bills dated Feb. 13 through Feb.22 because of difficulties in making payment. 

Low-income households may also apply for the Emergency Repair Grant for homeowners. The one-time grant will provide up to $5,000, covering plumbing, electrical and air conditioning or heating repairs for a three year period. Applicants must have a primary house in Arlington and not exceed the low-income category. 

The city has also waived any permit fees related to emergency repairs from the winter storm. Residents can apply for a permit and mention “February Winter Storm Damage” at arlingtonpermits.com. If homeowners and businesses cannot wait for a permit, they can contact 817-459-6502. 

@DangHLe

news-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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