ELGIN, Texas (Nexstar) — Gov. Greg Abbott said the tornado that touched down Monday in Elgin affected more than 100 homes there, destroying 19 of them.
During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Abbott said no one is in need of shelter, though, because people are staying with other family members or friends. However, one family is in a hotel for the time being, he said.
“The most important thing that came out of the storm that affected the Elgin area is the simple fact that no life was lost,” Abbott said. “Property damage is serious, and it can be frustrating and difficult and time consuming for people to overcome property damage. But if you lose your life, you can’t overcome anything.”
As he has in other Texas communities hit by tornadoes this week, the governor promised the state’s help to those affected in Elgin.
“We want to be with you every step of the way,” Abbott said. “We’re here to help to make the repair process, the restoration process go as swiftly as we possibly can.”
Bastrop County leaders shared a hotline for people to call if they need assistance securing things like clothing, appliances or furniture. The number to call is (512) 303-4300.
Abbott and other state officials also urged people to report damage to their homes or businesses at the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s website, which could later help the state secure assistance from the federal government.
The National Weather Service ranked the Elgin tornado as an EF-2, with wind speeds up to 130 mph. It’s the same tornado that flipped over a red pickup truck on Highway 290. A video of the truck driving through the tornado has gone viral, with hundreds of thousands of views worldwide.
Monday’s destruction also brought down power lines and destroyed buildings in Elgin, including a mobile home lifted atop a nearby warehouse that KXAN’s Jim Spencer discovered moments after the storm passed through.
Abbott went to Williamson County Monday evening, and traveled to Jacksboro and Crockett Tuesday. He also visited Sherman earlier in the day Wednesday, where he said the only death related to the storms happened.
How Texas could get FEMA aid
In order to qualify for federal relief dollars, Texas has to reach a certain threshold of damages to uninsured property. FEMA’s threshold for the Lone Star state is roughly $50 million of uninsured loss to public infrastructure and government buildings. Chief Nim Kidd of the Texas Division of Emergency Management says that equates to roughly 800 homes without insurance being majorly damaged or destroyed.
If that happens, FEMA will classify these tornadoes as a federal disaster and it will allow affected areas to be able to access resources.
Kidd said this is why it’s key for affected Texans to report damage and to file a claim with their insurance companies immediately, if they have coverage.
“After that we’ll be working with our city and county officials to do the damage assessments,” he said.
“We’re gathering those numbers together, we have a lot of volunteers that are out there…we will continue with the recovery process, we will work hand in glove with the cities and the counties of the state that are impacted.”
The governor said there are “a lot of potential avenues” to look at if Texas does not qualify for FEMA aid. In the interim, he and Kidd said local volunteers and leaders have been critical in assisting those in need.
“There’s all of these volunteer organizations that come together and they can rebuild homes in a matter of days,” Abbott said. “We will be tapping into those volunteer organizations, get them here in Elgin and help rebuild homes here, just like they did along the coastline in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.”