AUSTIN (KXAN) — Whether it’s too much water in your home, or not enough roof over your head, thousands of Texans are trying to pick up the pieces following last week’s historic winter storm.
After the initial shock of a disaster damaging your home subsides, a second wave of “What do I do now?” can hit soon after.
Fortunately, there are multiple agencies and organizations that stand ready to offer assistance wherever it’s needed.
Insurance experts say tens of thousands of claims have already been filed, primarily for flood damage due to broken pipes.
AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster said he’s never seen an event so far reaching as the current disaster.
He said the first step for anyone looking to recover is to file an insurance claim.
“You really want to start by photographing your home, paying special attention to your kitchen: your bathrooms, windows, doors, or any kind of personal property that is sentimental or has high value,” Armbruster said.
Once you’ve filed an insurance claim, the next step is filing a claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration Saturday for 77 of Texas’ 254 counties.
The disaster declaration includes Bastrop, Blanco, Caldwell, Gillespie, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties inCentral Texas.
To apply, go to DisasterAssistance.gov, download the FEMA smartphone app or call FEMA at (800) 621-3362. Once you get to the front page of the FEMA website, click “Apply Online” to get started.
“The claimant applies for a loan, it’s a low interest loan, and it should cover any expenses related to stuff your insurance company will not cover,” said insurance expert Andrew Hurst.
The Texas Department of Emergency Management is asking people to fill out an online survey to help the agency better understand the damages that have occurred as a result of the winter weather.
The agency said it will use this information to prioritize recovery efforts in the most affected areas.
The survey asks respondents to pinpoint their location on a map and answer questions about the extent of the damage. It also asks for uploaded photos of the damage.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Monday announced it was providing federal disaster assistance to homeowners and homebuyers in areas affected by the severe winter storms.
Texas counties under President Joe Biden’s major disaster declaration will be able to get foreclosure relief and other assistance from HUD:
Foreclosure relief: HUD’s automatic 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration-insured home mortgages began for the designated Texas counties on the date of the declaration. Borrowers who cannot make mortgage payments are urged to call their loan servicer.
Mortgage insurance: HUD is able to provide FHA insurance to disaster victims whose homes were destroyed or damaged to the point that reconstruction or replacement is necessary. For those facing rebuilding or buying another come, the program allows eligible borrowers to get 100% financing, including closing costs.
Insurance for both mortgages and home rehabilitation: One of HUD’s loan programs allows those who have lost their homes to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. Homeowners who have damaged homes will be able to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family home.
Counseling agencies: HUD-approved housing counseling agencies have counselors available to help those impacted by the storms.
Making info on housing providers available: HUD will share details with FEMA and the state on housing providers that may have available units in impacted areas.
The City of Austin has a website dedicated to home repairs.
Currently, the website has a message at the top of the page telling homeowners who need help as a result of the winter storm to check back later this week.
The website also says that the Housing & Planning Department has several home repair programs for income-eligible Austinites. These programs aim to help with home repairs and modifications with the goal to help residents stay in their homes.
The website also has a link to an application that asks homeowners about what kind of home repair they need in addition to asking about their current home and personal information.
Three non-profits, the Austin Disaster Relief Network, Central Texas Voluntary
Organizations Active in Disasters, and Crisis Clean Up are teaming up to help out Bastrop, Hays, Travis, and Williamson Counties.
Volunteer teams are currently helping people clean out their homes and remove debris.
Residents can call (800) 329-8052 to request assistance.
The “Crisis Clean Up” line will operate Mondays-Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. Homeowners can register for assistance through the “Crisis Clean Up” number until Tuesday, March 2.