AUSTIN, Texas -- State and federal emergency management officials have three important messages for renters who lost their homes or personal property as a result of the recent wildfires: Register, register, register!
Help from the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is available to eligible Texans in 16 counties who lived in apartments or other rental units before the wildfires -- but they must first register with FEMA.
"FEMA wants to ensure that all eligible survivors, regardless of whether they rent or own their home, get the assistance they need to recover from this disaster," said Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin L. Hannes.
Through Housing Assistance, FEMA offers two kinds of help to eligible renters:
- Money to rent a different place to live for a limited period of time while repairs are done to a home that was made unlivable by the disaster;
- A free referral service to find a safe replacement rental property.
Both renters and homeowners may also be eligible for Other Needs Assistance (ONA), designed to help survivors with uninsured or underinsured necessary expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster. ONA grants can be used for:
- Disaster-related medical and dental expenses;
- Disaster-related funeral and burial expenses;
- Replacement or repair of necessary personal property lost or damaged in the disaster, household items such as room furnishings or appliances, and tools and equipment required by the self-employed for their jobs, and;
- Primary vehicles and approved second vehicles damaged by the disaster.
Wildfire survivors in Bastrop, Cass, Colorado, Gregg, Grimes, Harrison, Houston, Leon, Marion, Montgomery, Smith, Travis, Walker, Waller, Williamson and Upshur counties can register online at www.disasterassistance.gov, via web-enabled phone at m.fema.gov, or by telephone via FEMA's toll-free numbers: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services can call 1-800-621-3362. Assistants are available by phone from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
For more information about wildfire disaster recovery, Texans can follow FEMA tweets at www.twitter.com/femaregion6. Other online resources are blog.fema.gov, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.