BOWIE COUNTY, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Bowie County and Texarkana, Texas officials are urging citizens and businesses to report damage from last week’s winter storms, which brought freezing temperatures along with ice and snow that caused widespread issues for water systems.
From frozen pipes and flooding to damage from collapsed structures, residents and business owners are now dealing with cleanup and costly repairs.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency last week approved Gov. Greg Abbott’s request to add 31 more counties to President Joe Biden’s Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance, including Bowie and Harrison.
Bowie County Judge Bobby Howell said it is important that those affected report their damage and expenses, not only in order to get disaster assistance, but also to help the state reach the threshhold of $38.9 million in damage
“It’s important that our citizens go online and request this assistance for a number of reasons,” Howell said.
Individual assistance through the FEMA program includes rental assistance, temporary lodging expenses, home repair and replacement, and other miscellaneous expenses such as personal property, moving and storage expenses, child care, transportation, cleaning and removal, and more.
In addition to the FEMA Individual Assistance Program, Texarkana Mayor Bob Bruggeman said the Texas Department of Emergency Management is asking counties in Texas to self-report storm damage at TDEM.TEXAS.GOV/WARM to qualify for additional funding categories for the recovery process. There, individuals and businesses can upload photos, describe damage and give details about their property.
“Individuals and businesses can report expenses and damage related to the winter weather event through this survey. Texas as a whole must prove damage that meets a threshold of $38.9 million, so every report we can identify in our county is important.”
Those who need help with survey can call the Texarkana Emergency Operations Center at at 903-255-5560.
Non-profit, governmental, medical, emergency, utility, educational, and custodial facilities agencies should report damage directly to the Texarkana Office of Emergency Management by emailing email@example.com. The EOC is also asking any non-profits and governmental agencies that are pooling resources to help those impacted by the storms are also asked to contact the EOC so that they can help coordinate and get the word out.
Bruggeman said they are still finding leaks throughout the city and county and asked anyone who finds one to contact the city immediately so that it can be addressed.
Texarkana, Texas Fire Chief Eric Schlotter, who also oversees the EOC, said the biggest need as the city transitions from response to recovery from the storms is for drinking water. He said there are still many residents in the city and especially in the more rural areas who are still without water.
The EOC received six truckloads with 120 pallets of water on Monday, which totals about 200,000 bottles, to be distributed to the six-county staging area the EOC is designated to cover. That water will be distributed at the EOC at 1101 W. 21st St. weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until they run out. Facilities who need water can also call the EOC hotline at 903-255-5560 to arrange delivery.
Another five trucks are expected in the next day or two, and Schlotter says they plan to carry out the mission as long as necessary to make sure gets the help they need.
“Our problems with our water system have nothing to do with our water system as a whole. It’s fully functional and there are no major issues being dealt with. The problems that we are experiencing are more in the form of a bunch of little problems. So, kind of like the saying goes, death by a million scratches. So all those little leaks, those leaks in houses are adding up into a big problem.”
Leaks are also still being discovered, and Schlotter urged citizens to check for leaks in their homes.
So we encourage everyone to check your house. These leaks can be subtle and hard to notice. One easy way to check for a leak is to turn off water in your house and then go look at your water meter. If it’s still spinning with everything off, then you have a problem at your house.