Texas Winter Storm Disaster Declaration & the Need or Resilience Planning

Over the course of the last couple weeks, Texas has seen one of the worst winter storms in its history. On February 14, President Joe Biden officially approved the emergency declaration for individual assistance in 77 counties across Texas. This comes after Governor Greg Abbot had requested individual and public assistance for all 254 Texas counties.  The declaration approval allows for FEMA to coordinate efforts of recovery moving forward, including grants for temporary housing and other programs for citizens and businesses to recover. 

This winter storm came as the country is still dealing with recovery options from the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted individuals and businesses across the entire United States. The winter storm had left many people across the state without power, heat, and/or running water. While temperatures in many areas of the state did not rise above freezing for multiple days, this is not a problem that Texas usually has to deal with. The roads were a risk for drivers and places like the Dallas Convention Center began to look like hurricane shelters for people searching for warmth. 

Billions of dollars in damages, the loss of life, and the failures of infrastructure have all occurred just in the last 10 days in Texas. As these ‘once in a generation’ natural weather events become more and more common in uncommon locations, communities must start moving toward active resiliency planning for not only these events, but the possibility of dual disasters like what Texas is dealing with today. Could there be changes to infrastructure, energy grids, costs, and regulations in Texas moving forward? It seems inevitable and the importance will be the reality that now is always better than later.

IEDC has a long history responding to disasters, and currently is engaged with the EDA’s Austin Regional Office to provide no-cost resiliency technical assistance to communities in and around Austin, Houston, College Station, Galveston, Port Arthur and Beaumont. For more information, reach out to IEDC’s Todd Lang at tlang@iedconline.org to find out if your community is eligible for this assistance.  And for all communities, keep visiting this site for more information on disaster recovery and resilience.

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