Winter storm damages? Deadline to apply for federal disaster funds is May 20

Free legal assistance is available for people who were denied FEMA funds

San Antonio covered in snow Feb. 2021
San Antonio covered in snow Feb. 2021 (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – The deadline to apply for relief aid from February’s devastating and deadly winter storm in Texas is fast approaching.

Texans who sustained damages during the extreme weather event have until May 20 to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency funds.

Disaster survivors can register for FEMA assistance online or by phone. FEMA is primarily doing virtual inspections of damaged homes.

The FEMA website notes that financial assistance cannot be provided to homeowners whose losses are already being covered by insurance.

If you have applied for funds from FEMA and were denied, attorneys with the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) can help.

The disaster recovery centers for FEMA are not open for in-person appointments, and typically anyone who is applying for assistance or appealing a denial would be able to visit these centers and speak with a FEMA representative.

“The complete absence of disaster recovery centers means that people who have suffered damage from Winter Storm Uri are more likely to need help figuring out the financial assistance programs,” said the manager of TRLA’s disaster benefits team Brittany Perrigue Gomez.

The ongoing pandemic has made it harder to obtain FEMA assistance and is likely the cause of lower-than-expected applications for disaster recovery funds, according to TRLA.

“It’s just as important that people who have been denied FEMA assistance know when and how to file an appeal,” Gomez said. “We can help individuals gather the documents needed to file an effective appeal.”

TRLA data shows that counties that suffered the most severe damage from the winter storm are in areas that don’t experience disasters such as hurricanes and flooding, which has led to fewer applications for assistance in those areas.

“Many of the people who suffered damage from the winter storm don’t have the personal experience of navigating financial assistance programs,” Gomez said. “We’re here to provide that guidance.”

Anyone looking to apply for free legal services can call TRLA at 1-888-988-9996.

If you’ve been denied FEMA assistance, you have up to 60 days to appeal the denial.

To apply for federal assistance for your home damages that were caused by the winter storms, click here.


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