Governor Abbott Requests Presidential Disaster Declaration Following Severe Winter Storm

Governor Abbott in front of storm map
Photo credit Office of Governor FB page

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting a Presidential Disaster Declaration for Texas communities impacted by the severe winter storm earlier this month. The Governor’s request includes Bastrop, Blanco, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Delta, Denton, Falls, Hays, Henderson, Hopkins, Hunt, Kendall, Lamar, Lee, Leon, Milam, Red River, Robertson, Shelby, Smith, Travis, and Williamson counties.

“The severe winter storm that swept across our state caused damage of such severity and magnitude that I am requesting a Presidential Disaster Declaration,” said Governor Abbott. “This critical federal assistance will allow Texas communities to rebuild and recover by providing necessary financial resources for emergency response, debris removal, and infrastructure damages. I thank TDEM and our emergency response partners for working around the clock to meet the needs of their fellow Texans.”

The request to declare a major disaster for the State of Texas comes after an initial review of damage sustained by significant ice accumulation, fallen tree branches, and damage to local electricity infrastructure. Local jurisdictions have reported more than $63 million in public infrastructure damage estimates thus far, including disaster response costs and debris management.

If the Governor’s request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration is granted, jurisdictions in the designated counties would be eligible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance program, including grant funding for: debris removal, emergency protective measures, roads and bridges, water control facilities, public buildings and contents, public utilities, parks, recreational, and other facilities. Approval of the request would also authorize additional FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program resources statewide.

This is the latest action in the state’s ice storm response and recovery:

  • On Monday, Governor Abbott expanded the state’s disaster declaration to include additional Texas counties affected by the ice storm. His initial disaster declaration was issued February 4.
  • Governor Abbott directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to request FEMA provide personnel to certify reported damages through joint preliminary damage assessments in partnership with local and state officials.
  • Governor Abbott directed TDEM to deploy specialized teams throughout Texas’ recovery to work with utility providers and electric cooperatives in affected areas to capture infrastructure damages and identify potential opportunities for disaster assistance.
  • As the winter weather moved through the state, Governor Abbott urged Texans to report ice storm damage to homes and businesses using the Individual State of Texas Assessment Tool (iSTAT). The information submitted by affected Texans helps identify resource needs and gain an understanding of the extent of damage sustained across Texas communities.
  • On January 31, the Governor provided an update on the state of Texas’ response to the severe winter weather conditions at a press conference from the SOC.
  • On January 30, the Governor directed TDEM to increase the readiness level of the State Operations Center (SOC) to Level II (Escalated Response) and mobilize state emergency response resources as winter weather began impacting large portions of Texas.

Read the Governor’s letter.