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Biden’s disaster declaration excludes Bandera, 176 other counties

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Following a Feb.18  Major Disaster Declaration request from Governor Abbott for Individual Assistance and Public Assistance in all 254 Texas counties, President Biden approved requests on Feb. 20 for Individual Assistance in 77 counties and for Public Assistance (Emergency Protective Measures Only) in all 254 counties.

Individual Assistance is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) directly to eligible individuals and families who sustained losses due to disasters. Public Assistance from FEMA can reimburse for emergency protective measures, debris removal and infrastructure repairs or replacement due to disaster-related damage.

Bandera County is among the 176 counties not eligible for Individual Assistance, but Bandera Emergency Coordinator Carey Reed said Sunday morning the county is working on obtaining Public Assistance, which is done by filling out a Disaster Summary Outline (DSO) that is submitted to the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM). 

Reed said this could help Bandera obtain funding for relief, but they do not have access to the state form yet through an online account. 

Some counties approved for Individual Assistance had not submitted a DSO outline, according to a spreadsheet available on TDEM’s website, and many counties had yet to submit their DSO.

“I'd like to thank the Governor for seeking a presidential declaration. It is clearly needed,” said Lynn Hauter, Chair of Bandera County GOP. “I take exception, however, to the administration’s response as the citizens of Bandera County and every other county that was not included deserve as much consideration for the harm we’ve experienced as everyone else in the state. I know first hand of numerous friends, relatives and residents throughout the state who went without power and water, and some in very dangerous conditions.”

As of this article’s publication, the White House has not responded to the Bulletin's requests for comment. 

Abbott stated he and the Texas Division of Emergency Management will continue to work to ensure the federal government provides appropriate assistance to individual Texans as well as to the state and local governments.

"I thank President Biden for his assistance as we respond to impacts of winter weather across our state," said Governor Abbott. "While this partial approval is an important first step, Texas will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure all eligible Texans have access to the relief they need. The funds provided under the Major Disaster Declaration may provide crucial assistance to Texans as they begin to repair their homes and address property damage.”