Joe Biden Denies Major Disaster Declaration For Texas

( Lawmakers in Texas are pushing for President Joe Biden to extend his federal disaster declaration to all 254 counties in the state.

On Saturday, the president signed his declaration that covers only 77 of the state’s counties. On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that 31 more counties had been added to the list by FEMA, but more still needs to be done.

In a letter sent to the White House, 27 Congressional leaders from Texas — Democrats and Republicans alike — said Biden’s declaration “falls far short of the actual needs of our state.”

“The continued delay of FEMA Individual Assistance to all 254 counties, in the State of Texas, will only prolong the suffering of millions of Americans,” the letter said.

Local NBC affiliate KXAN has been receiving messages from Texas residents who have said they’ve had no luck applying for disaster aid and need help from FEMA. One of those residents, Alan Crawford, wrote to the station:

“I live in Llano County and we were out of electricity from Sunday the 14th until late Friday evening the 19th with lows below 4 degrees F. We ALL suffered unlivable damage to our homes.”

And Kelly Sheppard wrote:

“I live in Llano County. I have every pipe under my home broken, 78609 zip code. I’m not included in the disaster relief. Why?”

Llano County is in the Austin area, where many people were left without power for many days. In addition, many of these people had to deal with having no running water. Still, the county isn’t included in the disaster relief area for some reason.

FEMA put out a statement Monday saying it was working to assess the damage done in other counties in Texas. They advised people to keep receipts for any repairs they had to do for their homes that were related to damage from the weather. The statement read:

“FEMA Major Disaster Declarations routinely begin with an initial set of counties for which damage information is available. The 77 counties authorized for Individual Assistance by the Major Disaster Declaration are a start. Additional designations may be made at a later date as we continue working with the state to review any further damage assessments.

“All insured Texas homeowners and renters should file a claim with their insurance provider, document damages to their home from the storm, and keep receipts for all expenses related to repairs.”

In the meantime, Texas politicians are urging FEMA and the Biden administration to quickly assess these other counties for damage so that the federal disaster aid can become available.

Republican Representative Chip Roy, who didn’t sign the letter mentioned above, sent his own letter to FEMA and the Texas Division of Emergency Management about the issue. He wrote:

“It is my understanding that these counties have not been denied Individual Assistance, but that the assessment of uninsured real and personal property damage for these counties has not yet been completed to determine their needs. Please make the completion of that assessment a priority so that these constituents have some certainty as to what resources are available to them.”