Thousands of Texans fled to hotels or outside of the region to escape the days-long power outages, water issues and other problems that cascaded across the state as winter storms rolled through the area.
Now, many are trying to recover.
If you or your family had to evacuate your home due to storm damage, and you have insurance, your policy might cover your costs, officials with the Texas Department of Insurance say.
Most insurance policies won't cover hotel costs if you went to stay somewhere to escape the power outages, according to officials with TDI, but many do cover hotel costs that arise from storm damages.
So, for example, if you went to stay in a hotel because a pipe burst in your home, you'll likely find your policy might pay for an alternative place to stay while you deal with repairs. It all depends on if the damage to your home is something your policy covers.
Most policies will, however, cover a new fridge full of groceries if yours spoiled from the power outages. Take pictures or keep a list of food that spoiled to help recoup some of that loss, TDI says.
No matter the reason, it's still important to call your insurance agent and check what your policy does and doesn't cover.
And if your insurance doesn't cover it, the federal government might.
"We can't help you with restocking your food, but if you have damages, we may be able to help there, if you had to go to a hotel, we may be able to help there," said Earl Armstrong, a FEMA spokesperson.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Saturday that residents who live in these 77 counties who suffered damage from the winter storm event can apply for disaster assistance.
Earlier in the day, the White House announced that President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Texas, and he's asked federal agencies to identify additional resources to help those in need.
If you have insurance and are applying for disaster assistance, you must also file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible.
FEMA said by law, it can't duplicate benefits for losses covered by insurance. If insurance does not cover all your damage, you may be eligible for federal assistance. The fastest way to apply is online at www.disasterassistance.gov.
If you don't have internet access you can register by calling 800-621-3362 or TTY: 800-462-7585. The phone lines operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT each day.
To apply for assistance, residents need to:
- Take photos of damaged home or belongings.
- Make a list of damaged or items lost due to disaster
- Have an insurance determination letter, documents proving your occupancy or ownership and proof of ID.
State officials are also asking residents across all 254 counties to report any damage to their homes from the storms in a state survey to share impact assessments with FEMA.
Filling out the survey, however, is not a substitute for filing a claim with FEMA or insurance.
Still have questions? You can call the Texas Department of Insurance hotline at 800-252-3439.