Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to President Joe Biden on February 7, 2023, requesting a Presidential Disaster Declaration for counties located in Southeast Texas impacted by severe storms and tornadoes that caused widespread damage from January 23-25, 2023. The Governor’s request included Harris, Jefferson, Liberty, and Orange counties.
“To better help our fellow Texans and local communities recover and move forward from the widespread damage of last month’s severe weather and tornadoes, I am requesting a Presidential Disaster Declaration,” said Governor Abbott. “The magnitude of damage caused by these storms in Southeast Texas requires robust, comprehensive action by all levels of government to help Texans recover. Through a Presidential Disaster Declaration, we will bolster recovery efforts for Texans in Harris, Jefferson, Liberty, and Orange counties.”
The request to declare a major disaster for the State of Texas is in response to an analysis of damage sustained in the counties impacted by tornadic activity. This follows a review of disaster damage information self-reported by Texans through Individual State of Texas Assessment Tool (iSTAT) surveys.
On January 26, Governor Abbott issued a disaster declaration for impacted communities in Southeast Texas that suffered damage to homes and businesses. The Governor updated the declaration on January 30 to include additional affected counties. At the Governor’s direction, beginning January 23 and throughout the severe weather, the Texas Division of Emergency Management deployed state emergency response personnel to provide support to local jurisdictions and conduct preliminary damage assessments in coordination with local officials.
If the Governor’s request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration is granted, residents of the designated counties would be eligible for the following federal resources: Individual Assistance, including the Individuals and Households Programs (IA); Other Needs Assistance (ONA); Crisis Counseling; Disaster Unemployment Assistance; Disaster Legal Assistance; Disaster Case Management; and Direct Federal Assistance. The Governor also requested access to the U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Program for physical and economic loss for all counties requested. Approval of the request would authorize additional Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program resources statewide.