By Kathi Bliss
In response to a request made by Governor Rick Perry earlier this month, President Barak Obama declared a state of disaster for three Central Texas counties as a result of the devastating Halloween floods.
Under the declaration, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be able to make aid available to the State of Texas, which will help to supplement state and local recovery efforts.
“[The declaration] clears the way for FEMA reimbursements to support repairs to roads, bridges, dams and other public infrastructure damaged in the Halloween storm,” said Martin Ritchey, the volunteer coordinator for the Caldwell County Office of Emergency Management, who has been instrumental in assessing the damages and helping to secure the FEMA funding.
According to Ritchey, dozens of homes, possibly as many as 80, were damaged and two lives lost in Caldwell County during the devastating Halloween 2013 flooding event, when storms dumped up to 15 inches of rain across Central Texas, causing rivers and creeks to explode from their banks within a matter of hours of the first rainfall.
Under the rules of the declaration, federal funding will be available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the storms and flooding in Caldwell, Hays and Travis counties.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
William J. Doran III has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Doran said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
“The approval of this declaration is welcome news to the residents of Travis, Hays and Caldwell counties,” Perry said on Friday. “This means that much-needed assistance is on its way to these communities, and Central Texans affected by the severe floods can begin rebuilding their lives.”
An individual assistance request is still pending federal review, Perry’s office noted.
In addition to this approval, the Small Business Administration has also granted the governor’s request to provide disaster assistance, which will enable homeowners, renters and businesses in 11 Central Texas counties to apply for long-term, low-interest disaster loans.
Watch future editions of the Post-Register for additional information on requesting and receiving FEMA emergency funding for flood recovery.