Executive Committee Member and Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas Legal Aid Managing Attorney, Kay Pechin shares with us these resources for those impacted by the recent winter storm.
Dear Community Partners,
We hope this email finds you safe and well. Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas (LANWT) remains committed to assisting our communities through this difficult time. Our organization offers free civil legal help to eligible community members in North and West Texas. To help our communities, we are sharing some information we hope will be helpful to you following the recent severe winter storm.
Federal Disaster-Related Assistance
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been directed to provide assistance following President Biden’s disaster declaration for several Texas counties based on the severity of the recent winter storm. Individuals and small businesses that sustained losses and live in eligible counties may apply for disaster assistance at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
To determine whether your county is included in the disaster declaration and what level of service the county is approved for, visit https://gis.fema.gov/maps/dec_4586.pdf. This information is regularly updated in the days following a disaster declaration, so if your county is not included, you may want to check back.
Because of safety concerns caused by the pandemic, there are no brick and mortar Disaster Response Centers (DRC) open in Texas. Those applicants who do not have internet access may apply for disaster assistance by calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 TTY.
Following the storm, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) issued an emergency order suspending the disconnection of utilities for nonpayment until further notice, including ordering utilities not to process any disconnections. Individuals who are receiving higher than normal utility bills may qualify for legal protections that prohibit price gouging.
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has suspended the work requirement statewide for the weeks ending February 20 and February 27. To assist customers, TWC will extend deadlines for any delays that occurred due to the winter storm. Employers may encourage employees who have lost wages due to being displaced from work by a natural disaster to apply for unemployment benefits. To apply for benefits, workers may apply online at www.twc.state.tx.us/jobseekers/unemployment-benefits-services or call 1-800-939-6631.
D-SNAP: Food Stamps for Those in Immediate Need
The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) offers short-term food assistance benefits to families recovering from a disaster. D-SNAP is designed to help once people return to their homes and have access to electricity and grocery stores. For eligibility information and instructions on how to apply for D-SNAP benefits, please visit https://hhs.texas.gov/services/financial/disaster-assistance/disaster-snap
Small Business Assistance
Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available to businesses, homeowners, and renters. Call the SBA at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 800-877-8339) or visit www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.
Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas
We hope the information we provided is helpful. Kindly share this info with the community at large as you wish. Individuals who need disaster-related legal help may contact LANWT’s Disaster Intake line at 1-888-548-8457 or visit our website at www.lanwt.org for instructions on how to apply. Our website also features important updates and useful information. If you need additional assistance—such as webinars, topic-specific legal presentations, or legal clinics—please contact your local LANWT office at 806-373-6808, Ext. 6500.
We appreciate all that you do to help our community and look forward to working together to help those in need.
Kay L. Pechin
Amarillo Branch Office
Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas