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Next steps for Texas winter storm disaster survivors

What’s Happening

Hundreds of thousands are still without power in Texas and a water boil advisory still exists. Several days ago President Biden approved an emergency declaration for the state of Texas. This means that FEMA is mobilized to provide equipment and resources to alleviate the impact of the disaster. We’re waiting to see if Individual Assistance — funding that will go directly to individuals and families — will be approved. If so, people can begin the FEMA recovery process.

We have free resources for survivors to help navigate the post-disaster insurance and federal assistance processes, avoid contractor fraud and instructions for DIY muck and gut. These are easy-to-access PDFs and are available in Spanish and English.

Ben Torres for The Texas Tribune

Disasters impact minority communities more heavily

We’ve written before about how disasters increase inequalities and what’s happening in Texas is no exception. The New York Times reported a few days ago:

“While the rolling blackouts in Texas have left some 4 million residents without power in brutally cold weather, experts and community groups say that many marginalized communities were the first to be hit with power outages, and if history serves as a guide, could be among the last to be reconnected. This is particularly perilous, they say, given that low-income households can lack the financial resources to flee to safety, or to rebound after the disruption.”

Our work in the Houston area

We‘ve been rebuilding homes in the greater Houston area since Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, so we’re on the ground now assisting impacted low-income families whose homes have experienced damage. In addition to days without heat, power, methods of communication, or potable water, many of our clients have burst pipes, structural damage, and other pressing home repair needs. They are also at risk of contractor fraud and price gouging.

We are contacting all current and former clients to conduct wellness checks and assess their immediate needs regarding food, water, power, and housing conditions. We are also working with trusted plumbers and contractors to assess the damage and understand the scope of repairs to prevent opportunistic fraud.

We are working to support — with resources and funding — organizations working on the ground in other areas of Texas. If you’d like to give towards these efforts, you can do so here.