TASB Risk Management Fund
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How to Apply for Winter Storm Disaster Relief

March 01, 2021 Melanie Moss

Computer keyboard with an apply now key

Texas public schools and colleges could be eligible for 2021 winter storm disaster relief under the Public Assistance Program. The federally backed program supports recovery efforts such as debris removal, infrastructure repairs, and reimbursement for emergency and protective measures.

Eligibility

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of Texas jointly administer the Public Assistance Program. This FEMA map shows which counties have received disaster declarations to date. If your organization operates in any of those counties, you could be eligible for assistance. Even if it does not, you should still apply.

You might not receive aid, but eligibility is based on your area’s overall losses. By applying, you give officials a more complete picture of the storm’s impact. Ultimately, you could help other counties waiting for disaster declaration.

Before you apply

Schools can apply for assistance on their own or in conjunction with the county where the damage occurred. Before you apply, consider the pros and cons of both strategies.

By collaborating with your local emergency management officials, you can streamline the application process. If your operations overlap county lines, however, you might have to submit multiple applications based on where damages occurred.

Either way, school officials should communicate their disaster recovery efforts to local emergency managers.

Apply online

Public schools and community colleges can apply for assistance online. Applicants can create an account, submit documentation, and track the status of their application.

What if your application is denied?

If FEMA denies your organization’s request for public assistance, you can appeal the decision by reapplying for aid. Before you do, consult your local emergency manager for tips that could improve your chances of qualifying. If you do not know how to contact the emergency manager who serves your area, the Fund can help.

Filing coverage claims

In addition to applying for relief through the Public Assistance Program, schools should carefully document their losses and file claims with their coverage provider as appropriate. In fact, FEMA requires applicants to take reasonable efforts to pursue claims for eligible losses (See Duplicate benefits below). If your organization participates in the Fund’s Property coverage program, see this quick guide to addressing winter storm damage.

Duplicate benefits

FEMA cannot provide public assistance funding that duplicates insurance proceeds. If your organization receives duplicate benefits, FEMA will adjust the amount of public assistance you are eligible to receive. See the Duplication of Benefits section in this FEMA guide to learn which insurance-related documentation you are required to provide with your public assistance application.

More information

For more information on the Public Assistance Program, see this FAQ and visit the Texas Division of Emergency Management website. Fund members can also contact TASB Emergency Management and School Security Consultant Melanie Moss by email or phone at 512.505.2868.

Tagged: "emergency response", FEMA, "hot topic"