How to Apply for FEMA Aid after the Texas Winter Storm

Texans impacted by the recent severe winter storm can apply online to receive assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Over 100 Texas counties have been approved for federal aid under President Joe Biden's "Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance."

Speaking to Newsweek, a spokesperson for FEMA said: "Those impacted by the winter storm must contact their insurance company first to begin the recovery process," before applying for assistance with FEMA.

The federal government website notes: "You may qualify for FEMA assistance even if you have insurance. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses covered by your insurance. So, you need to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible.

"Some agencies have conditions or limits to the amount of assistance offered. FEMA's Individuals and Households Program (IHP) gives financial help or direct services to people with essential needs not met through other means. The maximum amount offered under IHP is set on an annual basis. Not everyone will qualify for the maximum," the website advises.

The FEMA spokesperson added: "All disasters are different and no two claims are alike. There are different assistance programs for individual citizens versus public groups like government agencies and private nonprofit organizations."

How to apply for FEMA aid following Texas winter storm

"Individuals and business owners in counties included in the President's declaration who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585," the office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott advised.

At the aforementioned website, residents can enter their city and state or zip code in a search box to see if their "area has been declared for Individual Assistance."

Those who qualify for assistance can apply by selecting the "apply online" icon at the website. Residents are advised to "please ensure to select the cause of damage snow/ice amongst other damages that may have occurred.

"Applicants are required to inform FEMA of all insurance coverage such as flood, homeowners, renter's, etc. that may be available to them. Insured applicants must provide FEMA documentation such as an insurance settlement or denial letter to process their application.

"FEMA programs do not pay for fuel or cover food losses. If you have immediate needs for food or shelter, you may contact 2-1-1 for local resources," the website notes.

Clicking on the "apply online" icon will direct residents to a new page where they'll need to enter the "Captcha" characters shown on the page and click "submit" to continue. This will open a new page outlining what residents will need to complete their registration.

Users can then click the "start" icon at the bottom right corner of that page and follow the instructions thereafter to complete their application, which will take approximately 20 minutes, the website notes.

Residents must provide an email address to be able to review their registration status online. Those who don't provide an email address will have to contact FEMA for any updates on their registration.

"If you are applying for both home and business disaster assistance, complete one registration to cover both," the website notes.

What you'll need to complete your application

Below is the information you'll need to provide as part of your application.

Social Security number

The website notes: "You, another adult member or minor child in your household must have a Social Security number. You or they must also be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien."

Those who don't have a Social Security number can find instructions on how to apply for one at the Social Security Administration website.

Income

Applicants will need to provide their total annual household income, before taxes, at the time of the disaster.

Insurance

Residents will need to indicate the types of insurance they have, such as homeowners, flood, automobile or mobile home insurance.

Damages

Applicants will need to "describe the damage caused by the disaster," including the type of disaster, such as a flood, hurricane, or earthquake, and "the type of dwelling or vehicle (like a condo, mobile home or house, or a car or truck)," the website notes.

Contact information

Residents will need to provide the address and phone number of the property where the damage occurred as well as the current address and phone number where they can be reached.

Bank details

Those approved to receive assistance can have the funds deposited directly into their bank account. Applicants will need to provide the following banking information:

  • Bank name
  • Type of account (like checking or savings)
  • Routing number
  • Account number

Those having technical issues during the application process can contact FEMA's help desk at 1-800-745-0243, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

See the DisasterAssistance.gov website for more information.

This article has been updated with comment from FEMA.

Houston Texas February 2021
The U.S. and Texas flags flying in front of high voltage transmission towers on February 21 in Houston. Texans impacted by the recent severe winter storm can apply online to receive assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images