Originally appeared in the Texas Tribune
By Chuck Lindell
President Joe Biden issued a disaster declaration Saturday for 13 Texas counties, freeing federal relief for areas damaged in last winter’s crippling ice storms.
Disaster relief will be available for state agencies, local governments and some nonprofits “on a cost-sharing basis” to repair and replace damaged facilities and conduct other emergency work, the White House said.
Gov. Greg Abbott, who had requested a disaster declaration covering 23 counties, thanked Biden for the designation, calling it “a critical first step to helping Texans recover from this severe weather event.”
“Texas will continue to work with our federal partners to support recovery from damage that occurred as a result of this storm,” Abbott said in a statement.
Saturday’s disaster declaration included Travis County, home to the state capital, and nearby counties of Bastrop, Blanco, Burleson, Burnet, Hays, Lee, Milam and Williamson. Henderson County southeast of Dallas, Kendall County south of Fredericksburg and Leon and Robertson counties east of Waco also were included.
Money also will be available for hazard mitigation measures across Texas, the White House said, with additional disaster relief available if Texas requests help and future damage assessments find a need.
The storms in late January and early February left a damaging coat of ice across a broad swath of Texas, cutting power to more than 300,000 customers statewide and hitting the Central Texas region around Austin particularly hard.
In a February letter to Biden, Abbott had requested federal aid for 23 counties, including the 13 that were part of Saturday’s order. Left out of Biden’s declaration were Caldwell, Delta, Denton, Falls, Hopkins, Hunt, Lamar, Red River, Shelby and Smith counties.
Abbott said Saturday that he directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to ensure that other affected counties that can meet applicable damage thresholds will be added to the disaster declaration.