President Obama Signs Disaster Declaration for Harris County

Following a week of heavy anticipation, President Barack Obama has finally signed a disaster declaration for Harris County, along with three other Texas counties, after the historic floods last week. 

As of Sunday, Harris County estimated more than $43 million in residential damages, with more than 6,700 flooded homes — 1,800 of which were in the Greenspoint area alone — and more than $13 million in commercial damage. Now, affected residents can apply for up to $33,000 in Federal Emergency Management Assistance grants, which fluctuates depending on the level of damage. (Those with flood insurance aren't eligible, however.)*

Mayor Sylvester Turner had also said last week that he had been waiting on the FEMA assistance before performing more substantial damage assessments in the Meyerland area, and that the city could use the money to help displaced residents secure temporary housing vouchers.

As of Sunday, counselors working for the city had already interviewed more than 1,300 individuals to assess their needs, including the roughly 400 Greenspoint residents who had been living in the MO Campbell Education Center. Those who did not have anywhere else to go, such as to live with other family members or friends — numbering about 150 — were relocated to a hotel by Friday night, a promise that Turner managed to keep. They can stay for up to three weeks, costing the city about $150,000, which will come out of a separate storm-relief fund, as the Houston Chronicle reported.

Residents seeking assistance can apply by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or visiting m.fema.gov.

*Correction, 4/26/2016: Those who have flood insurance may still be eligible for FEMA assistance in some form; only damage that is covered by insurance is not covered by FEMA.

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