TEXARAKANA, Texas -- In just two weeks, state and federal officials have approved more than $536,785 in disaster recovery funds to help more than 69 individuals who have applied for help following the May 4 tornadoes that injured 22 people and killed one in Northeast Texas.
Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (DEM) today released the following figures on the status of disaster recovery assistance in the two declared counties, as of the close of business, Thursday, May 20:
TELEREGISTRATION AND HELPLINE CONTACTS
The first step by disaster victims in the recovery process is to register by telephone with the National Teleregistration Center (1-800-462-9029, TTY 1-800-462-7585). Those who suffered tornado losses should call to register for federal and state aid, including housing assistance, disaster unemployment assistance, low-interest loans, income tax and social security assistance, veteran's assistance, serious needs and necessary expenses, and answers to other questions. The Telerigistration lines are operational from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (CDT), seven days per week.
In addition, 72 calls were made to FEMA's Helpline number (1-800-525-0321, TTY 1-800-660-8005). This disaster Helpline is in operation from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. (CDT), Mondays through Saturdays.
DISASTER HOUSING ASSISTANCE CONTINUES
Federal disaster housing grants help with temporary rental assistance or emergency repairs needed to make a residence livable until more permanent repairs can be made.
As of the close of business May 19, checks totaling $46,182 had been disbursed to 40 individuals who had loss or damage from the Bowie and Red River counties tornadoes.
INDIVIDUAL AND FAMILY GRANTS
16 families and individuals have been approved by the Texas Department of Human Services to receive a combined total of $59,583 in state-administered, FEMA-and State-funded grants for serious needs and necessary expenses not covered by other assistance programs.
SBA APPLICATION IS IMPORTANT TO THE APPLICATION PROCESS
Many victims of the North Texas tornadoes are being referred to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan program. What most people don't know is that the SBA is a primary source of federally funded disaster assistance loans to homeowners, renters and businesses. SBA loans fund long-term recovery. SBA has approved 13 homeowner and business disaster loan applications for a total of $431,100, as of the close of business, May 20.
Even if disaster victims do not want a loan or do not think they will qualify for a loan, they must complete and return the SBA disaster applications as soon as possible. Referrals to other forms of assistance or grant programs cannot be made until the SBA has made a decision on a loan application.
BACKGROUND ON NORTHEAST TEXAS TORNADOES
On May 4, a storm system spawned several tornadoes in northeast Texas which touched down in Anderson, Bowie, Nacogdoches, Red River and Titus counties, severely damaging the down of DeKalb (population 2200) in Bowie County. At about 4 p.m., a tornado hit the central business district and nearby neighborhoods, causing extensive damage. The tornadoes injured 17 people in DeKalb and caused one death near Mt. Pleasant in neighboring Titus County. North of Clarksville in Red River County, five people were injured, two seriously.