HURRICANE HARVEY RELIEF: DISASTER RECOVERY CENTERS, UN- EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE, SCHOOL START DATES, FINDING HOUSING, AND MORE

Hurricane Harvey Resources

Our office has been working hard since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas’ Gulf Coast. Below are some of the recovery efforts we have worked on to supply resources to families affected by Hurricane Harvey in Harris County, including arranging a Disaster Recovery Center in Houston and more.

DISASTER RECOVERY CENTERS

I worked with city and state officials to arrange a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) now open at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. I also worked to get SNAP benefits to disaster victims. I worked with DPS to set up a mobile temporary ID kiosk in the George R. Brown Convention Center. DRCs offer in-person support to individuals and businesses in 32 counties included in the Texas federal disaster declaration for Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent floods.

HOUSTON DRC:
George R. Brown Convention Center

1001 Avenida de las Americas
Houston, TX  77010

Recovery specialists will be at the centers to talk about assistance and to help anyone who needs guidance in filing an application.  The DRCs are accessible to people with disabilities and have assistive technology equipment, and accessible parking, ramps and restrooms.

If possible, homeowners, renters and businesses should register with FEMA before visiting a recovery center. Eligible residents may register for assistance the following ways:

The following information is helpful when registering:

  • Address of the location where the damage occurred (pre-disaster address).
  • Current mailing address.
  • Current telephone number.
  • Insurance information.
  • Total household annual income.
  • Routing and account number for checking or savings account (this allows FEMA to directly transfer disaster assistance funds into a bank account).
  • A description of disaster-caused damage and losses.

Disaster survivors can visit any of the centers for assistance. Locations of other recovery centers are online at www.fema.gov/DRC.

More Disaster Recovery Centers will be opening in Houston. I will continue to keep you updated.


HOW TO HELP

After receiving an overwhelming number of inquiries from citizens and companies who want to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Honorable Ed Emmett established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund that accepts tax-deductible flood relief donations for victims affected by the recent floods. Click here to donate.

Below is the mailing address:
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
Greater Houston Community Foundation
ATTN: Gift Processor
5120 Woodway Drive, Suite 6000
Houston, TX 77056


I have been working to supply residents of Harris County with some of the most needed supplies. They are in need of children’s diapers, specifically larger sizes (4,5,6) and disposable absorbent undergarments for adults. To help aid in the effort to collect these items, I am working with Representative Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) and Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis in creating an Amazon list with the needed items to ship directly to Commissioner Ellis’ office in Southeast Houston.  Please click here to go to the list and place an order for immediate shipment.

If you would rather ship directly or prefer to drop off items in person, the address is: 
Commissioner Rodney Ellis
2727 El Camino Street
Houston, Texas 77054


Thank you to Kimberly Clark for donating feminine hygiene products and diapers to the Harvey relief efforts. Kimberly-Clark encourages others to join in supporting relief efforts by donating to the National Diaper Bank Network to mobilize the delivery of basic need items.


Thank you to Procter & Gamble for supplying a mobile laundry truck to aid the Harvey relief. Click here for more information on the mobile laundry truck.


Thank you to BP and the BP Foundation for donating $750,000 to be split equally among the Red Cross, the Community Foundation of Greater Houston and the United Way of Greater Houston and for supplying our first responders with 100,000 gallons of gas.


DISASTER UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE

The Texas Workforce Committee (TWC) is accepting claims for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).  DUA, which is an unemployment insurance benefit made available especially for victims of disaster, is available to individuals who:

  • Have applied for and used all regular unemployment benefits from any state, or do not qualify for unemployment benefits
  • Worked or were self-employed or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment in the disaster area
  • Can no longer work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster
  • Establish that the work or self-employment they can no longer perform was their primary source of income
  • Cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury as a direct result of the disaster
  • Became the breadwinner or major support of a household because of the death of the head of household

Individuals affected by Hurricane Harvey can apply for DUA online or by calling a Texas Workforce Commission Tele-Center at 1-800-939-6631.  Click here for more information about Disaster Unemployment Assistance and for the online application for unemployment benefits.


SNAP & WIC

In response to Hurricane Harvey, I am working with the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to expand SNAP and health care benefits for flood victims in the Houston area. Currently, Texans who receive SNAP food benefits can buy hot food such as rotisserie chicken and prepared foods from a store’s deli through Sept. 30 at retailers who accept SNAP. Click here for more information.
WIC families who evacuated and lost or left behind WIC foods or formula already purchased can get replacement food benefits. Click here or call 1-800-942-3678 for more information. If you are in an area affected by Hurricane Harvey, please press option 3 to speak with an operator during business hours to find an open location near you.Click here for Hurricane Harvey Disaster Assistance from Texas Health & Human Services. If you have a question about your HHS benefits, such as SNAP food benefits, TANF, Medicaid or CHIP, dial 2-1-1 and select option 2. For other storm related services, including shelters for you and your pets, dial 2-1-1 and selection option 5.


RESOURCES FOR RENTERS AND PROPERTY OWNERS IMPACTED BY HARVEY

The Texas Apartment Association (TAA) is working with the Joint Housing Solutions Working Group to find housing for those recovering from the hurricane. In addition, several industry partners have created housing portals listing units that were not damaged and are available to rent.

Click here for resources for rental property owners and renters, such as rights and responsibilities under Texas law, how to terminate a lease if a property is uninhabitable, warnings against price gouging and links to SBA disaster relief loans.


SCHOOL INFORMATION

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) is implementing rolling start dates for the first day of school based on the level of flooding damage at campuses. Most schools will start this coming Monday, September 11th. CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT WHEN CLASSES START AT YOUR SCHOOL.

The following nine schools sustained substantial damage and students will be relocated to temporary campuses. New locations are to be determined and classes will begin on September 25th.

  • Askew Elementary, Burbank Middle, Braeburn Elementary,Hilliard Elementary, Kolter Elementary, Liberty High, Mitchell Elementary, Robinson Elementary, Scarborough Elementary
Free school meals
HISD is serving breakfast and lunch meals for free to all students until Sept. 30, 2017 under the National School Lunch/Breakfast Program. The district also recently got approval to serve free dinner to all students. HISD is still asking parents and guardians to complete and return the application. Click here to complete the application.Feeding the community
HISD is serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner free of charge at nine sites in the Houston area. The meals will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to all community members. Click here for a list of the nine meal sites in the Houston area.
Breakfast: 8 a.m.-9 a.m.
Lunch: 11 a.m.-noon
Dinner: 4 p.m.-5 p.m.

Free uniform fittings 
HISD will be distributing thousands of free school uniforms to students at seven locations across Houston from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9. Students must be present to be fitted in order to receive clothing. Click here for information on free school uniforms.
                         


FILING A CLAIM: HOW & WHEN
  • If possible, file your homeowner’s claim regarding damage from Hurricane Harvey or the flood as soon as possible.
    • All neighborhood libraries and multi-service centers provide computer access or complimentary wi-fi. A mobile hotspot can be checked out for three weeks from the Houston Public Library here.
  • Tell the insurance company your home or business suffered damage as a result of Hurricane Harvey or the flood and that the communication is intended to serve as notice of your claim
  • Document the damage with pictures and video of damage to your structure and belongings, paying close attention to your valuables. If possible, include a list of damaged personal items, including the date of purchase and approximate value of any damaged items.
  • DO NOT THROW DAMAGED ITEMS AWAY BEFORE YOU REPORT THEM AS DAMAGED WITH YOU INSURANCE.
  • KEEP RECEIPTS for all flood-repair purchases, experts advise
  • Please ensure the date you make your claim is clearly displayed on your written notice to your insurance company
    • Include your full name, address, and insurance policy number if you can
    • Keep a copy for your records

WINDSTORM INSURANCE

FLOOD INSURANCE
  • If your house flooded, your claim will most likely be governed by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which has strict proof requirements and any lawsuits must be filed in federal court
  • If your home flooded, and there is also water coming into your home from above (i.e. a leak in the roof), it is likely windstorm damage.
    • If so, you should file a claim with your private insurer under your homeowner’s policy IN ADDITION TO filing a flood claim under your NFIP flood policy
  • Since the federal government issued a disaster proclamation, limited non-insurance related assistance will be available. Click here for information and to see if you qualify.

INSPECTING YOUR PROPERTY
  • If you’ve been displaced, do NOT return to your property until local authorities have declared the area safe.
    • Contact 3-1-1 to find out if it’s safe to return to your area.
    • If you smell gas in the air, leave the area immediately and report it to authorities.
    • If you have suffered water damage or other damage in your roof, walls, or foundation, contact an electrician before flipping any switches.

IMPORTANT CONTACT INFORMATION
For disaster-related requests for food, clothing, evacuation, transportation assistance, or other immediate assistance, please contact the Red Cross or 2-1-1 Texas:
Houston Police Department: 713-884-3131
Harris County Sheriff’s Office: 713-695-2111To report a power outage, call CenterPoint Energy:
713-695-2111

To report flooding, call 3-1-1 or 713-837-0311


FEMA
Since the federal government issued a disaster proclamation, limited non-insurance related assistance will be available. If your house is flooded, please register with FEMA immediately, especially if you do not have insurance coverage.

FREE LEGAL HELP

Medicaid, CHIP, and Health Texas Woman (HTW) Benefits Extended for 6 Months in 29 Counties, including Harris County.

  • The benefit certification periods for clients in the 29 federally declared disaster counties are extended an additional 6 months to allow clients to receive their Medicaid, CHIP, or HTW benefits.
  • This applies to all to Medicaid, CHIP, and HTW renewals due in August, September, October, and November 2017.
  • Clients do not need to take any action to receive the 6 month extension but will receive a notice when it is time to renew their benefits.
  • Clients can use YourTexasBenefits.com or the Your Texas Benefits mobile app to manage their benefits case and to update HHS of any address changes.
  • Clients are encouraged to sign up for electronic notices to stay informed about their cases.

Clients whose benefits are (were) up for renewal in:

  • August 2017 were automatically extended through February 2018.
  • September 2017 will be automatically extended through March 2018.
  • October 2017 will be automatically extended through April 2018.
  • November 2017 will be automatically extended through May 2018.

HHS Office Closures and Reopenings
To find out the status of an HHS local office, click here.

Community Partner Support

If you have questions or need assistance, please click here for CPSS and RPS contact information.

Disaster Related HHS Benefit FAQs
Click Disaster Benefit FAQs to view a few questions and answers related to disaster benefits for HHS clients affected by Hurricane Harvey.


                   

Our song of the week is this impromptu performance at a Texas shelter for Harvey evacuees in Conroe, Texas.

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