Almost three months since the Sept. 9 major disaster declaration for the Texas wildland fires, assistance to survivors and affected communities has topped $32 million, recovery officials said today. Of the total, nearly $13 million is for state and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recovery grants.
The $13 million includes $10.5 million in rental assistance and grants to repair and rebuild homes, as well as $2.4 million for other disaster-related needs such as personal property, medical care and funeral expenses. More than $62,000 in Disaster Unemployment Assistance has gone to workers or the self-employed who lost their jobs or have been unable to work due to the disaster.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved more than $18 million in low-interest disaster loans for 162 homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes affected by the wildfires.
“Our primary goals have been to ensure wildfire survivors are safe and secure and that they get the assistance they need to begin rebuilding their lives,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin L. Hannes of FEMA. “Our assistance has averaged $10 million a month since the declaration, and that’s making a difference.”
Additionally, more than $1.3 million has been obligated to the state under FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program, whose applicants include the state and its agencies, local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations. Eligible applicants in 31 Texas counties can apply for FEMA PA reimbursements for the cost of removing wildfire-related debris from public rights of way, for measures taken to protect lives and property before, during and after the blazes, and to help defray the cost of repairing infrastructure damaged or destroyed as a result of the wildfires.
Since the disaster declaration, more than 4,000 wildfire survivors have registered with FEMA across the 23 counties designated for Individual Assistance. The registration deadline is Jan. 6.
Texas homeowners, renters, and business owners can register online or check on the status of an earlier registration at www.disasterassistance.gov, via Web-enabled phone at m.fema.gov, or by telephone via FEMA’s toll-free numbers: 1-800-621-3362 or TTY 1-800-462-7585. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services can call 1-800-621-3362. Assistants are available by phone from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.