AUSTIN, Texas -- Texans from Cass, Gregg, Harrison, Marion, Rusk, Smith and Upshur counties who are rebuilding after the wildfires can receive a free consultation with hazard mitigation advisors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The consultations will be available on a walk-in basis at home improvement stores in Longview starting Monday.
The advisors can answer survivors’ questions about protecting homes from future disaster-related damage, as well as offer tips and techniques to build hazard-resistant homes. Most of the information and the free publications provided at the in-store FEMA information stations are geared for do-it-yourself work and general contractors.
The FEMA information centers will be at the following stores from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.:
3313 North Fourth Street
Longview, TX 75605
Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 7-8
Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 10-13
411 East Loop 281
Longview, TX 75605
Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 14-15
Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 17-20
“FEMA puts mitigation experts in home improvement stores because we know their rebuilding suggestions and techniques make homes stronger,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin L. Hannes of FEMA. “Survivors who take advantage of the consultations will walk away with some excellent project ideas.”
Fire safety topics will include creating a “defensible space” between a home and the surrounding plant growth, ideal materials for fire-resistant homes and other measures to make homes stronger and safer.
Flood mitigation methods will also be discussed because flooding risks can jump after a wildfire, even in areas far from the fire that were not previously considered as having moderate or high flood hazards.
Flooding may be the last disaster wildfire survivors think they should guard against. When fire burns away vegetation, however, there is nothing to soak up the water from the heavy rainstorms that can occur in Texas. Storm runoff can cause severe erosion, mudslides and flooding.
While the highest risk of flooding is for properties directly impacted by fire, it also rises for homes downstream or below scorched areas. At the consultation, the FEMA advisors will discuss measures to deflect water around buildings, erosion controls, ground plantings to stabilize soil and other techniques that can limit post-fire flooding hazards.
Texas homeowners, renters, and business owners can register online or check on the status of an earlier registration at www.disasterassistance.gov, via web-enabled phone at m.fema.gov, or by telephone via FEMA’s toll-free numbers: 1-800-621-3362 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.
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.