Compiled by Joe Southern
The heavy rains and flooding of last week has spilled over into this week.
Although Fort Bend County wasn’t hit as hard as Houston and Harris County, there has been significant flooding and wary eyes remain on the Brazos River.
Fort Bend County Judge Robert Hebert signed a local disaster declaration for Fort Bend County last week.
“Fort Bend County residents need to understand the severity of this incident,” he said. “This is not a normal rain storm like we’re all used to dealing with: this situation is severe and an abundance of caution is required of us all.”
Bands of rain pushed south of Interstate 10 dumping as much as 16 inches in areas of Fort Bend County on April 18. Addicks Reservoir flooded and has portions of Highway 6 closed just north of I-10.
As a result of the floods, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration.
“I do hereby declare a state of disaster in Austin, Bastrop, Colorado, Fort Bend, Grimes, Harris, Montgomery, Waller and Wharton counties in the State of Texas,” he said in a news release. He later added Bosque, Fayette, Liberty, Milam, Palo Pinto, Parker and San Jacinto counties.
U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) sent a letter to President Obama urging him to grant Abbott’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the recent severe weather and flooding that has affected Southeast Texas.
That request was granted. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and flooding April 17-24.
The President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Fayette, Grimes, Harris, and Parker counties. Fort Bend County was not included in the action.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
Kevin L. Hannes has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Hannes said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).
As the area moves into a recover phase – even as more rain is forecast – warnings are being issued for residents to be aware of scammers.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton reminded Texans to protect themselves against scams and be ready to report possible price gouging in the aftermath of recent flooding across the state, and particularly in Southeast Texas.
“Throughout the storms and floods of this week, we’ve witnessed the courage of our first responders and the generosity of neighbors coming together to help their fellow Texans, and our prayers remain with those whose lives have been altered or lost in these severe storms,” Paxton said. “Unfortunately, people who have already been through so much also need to be wary of bad actors taking advantage of their circumstances. To that end, I’d like to caution everyone in any area affected by storms and flood to be extremely careful with people offering to help you rebuild or reconstruct.”
Scams involving contractors failing to perform work they were paid to do are not uncommon following such disasters. Flood victims are reminded to be wary of contractors from out of the area, don’t rush into signing a contract, ask for references and check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure they’re working with a trustworthy business. In addition, under state law, once the governor issues a disaster declaration, vendors are prohibited from charging exorbitant prices for necessities during and after the crisis.
Texans in affected counties who believe they have been scammed or encountered price gouging should call the Office of the Attorney General’s toll-free complaint line at (800) 621-0508 or file a complaint online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.