Texas Winter Storm

Update – February 22, 2021

As of today, warmer temperatures have returned to our state – but people across Texas are still experiencing hardships. Below is an updated list of resources for the challenges that have come from the inclement weather conditions. If you need additional assistance through SNAP or other services, visit YourTexasBenefits.com.

FEMA Assistance

If you are in one of the 108 counties that has been declared a disaster area, you can register for assistance using the below:

Water Issues

If you are under a boil water notice, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has a useful guide with tips on boiling water for preparing food, feeding babies, pets, brushing teeth, and more.

If you’re in need of water, the Office of Public Utility Council has put together a list of water distribution centers across Texas.

Insurance

The Texas Department of Insurance has resources available for Texans who had their homes damaged during the winter storms. Visit their website here or call their Help Line between 8am and 5pm Central time, Monday to Friday at 1-800-252-3439.

Price Gouging

The Public Utility Commission of Texas has issued an order to ban energy companies from disconnecting power for non-payment.

If you have encountered any price gouging or other disaster-related scams, call the Texas Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-621-0508 or file a complaint on the Texas Attorney General’s website here.

Scams

For your awareness, the below scams and rumors have been circulating on social media and other channels. If you come across any of these, report them to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) immediately. For more information on additional winter storm scams, visit the FEMA Rumor Control website.

  • There is a false 800 number being circulated via social media and text messages claiming FEMA is paying people for hotel stays. A similar scam is claiming FEMA is providing direct food vouchers. Neither of these claims are true – if you need help, visit DisasterAssistance.gov to apply for disaster assistance if you live in a designated county.
  • Social media users are being asked to provide their private account numbers via text message. Additionally, some North Texans have received calls from individuals impersonating a utility company and threatening to shut off power. If anyone asks for your personal information, call your power company immediately and verify with them first.
  • Due to the current high demand for contractors, there has been an increase in scammers taking payment and not completing work. For more information, read the BBB’s tips on hiring a contractor

How You Can Help

If you are able to help others in need, below is a list of organizations that are working in communities across Texas to ensure needs are met:

 

Texas is enduring harsh winter storms, with sub-freezing temperatures, power outages across the state, frozen pipes, and dangerous road conditions. I joined Governor Abbott in calling on the Biden Administration to issue a Federal Disaster Declaration to help Texans during this difficult time. I also called on the U.S. Department of Energy to issue a waiver to allow Texas power generators to increase production.  Thanks to quick action, the Biden Administration granted these requests and authorized federal assistance for Texas.

 
Below is a list of helpful resources to assist you and your family during this extreme weather:
 

Warming Centers

Visit the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s interactive map to help find your nearest warming center.
 

2-1-1

If you’re in need of food, housing, a warming center, or help with your mental health during these difficult conditions, dial 2-1-1 or visit their website for help.
 
You can also call or text the national Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990.
 

Driving in Winter Weather

If the roads in your area are in poor condition, please stay at home if you are able. For those who must leave their home, the Texas Department of Transportation has put together helpful tips on driving in winter weather.
 

Electricity Updates

The ERCOT website has a page dedicated to updates on severe weather – follow them for information on power outages and restoration. If you have power, please try to conserve it.
 

Helpful Tips

  • If you still have power, conserve energy by setting thermostats to 68-degrees, turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances, and close shades and blinds to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows. (Source)
  • If you have lost power due to the storm, unplug electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges, keep refrigerators and freezers closed, close off rooms to avoid wasting heat, wear layers of warm clothing, avoid caffeine and alcohol, and stuff towels or rags in cracks under your doors. (Source)
  • If you have a generator, place it outdoors, away from windows, and at least 20 feet away from your home. Point the exhaust away from your home, keep it dry and properly grounded, install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home, and never plug your generator into a wall outlet or main electrical panel. (Source)
  • Make sure to bring your pets inside the house or garage and keep them away from any alternate heating sources to avoid burns. (Source)
  • When shoveling snow, keep a steady pace and take breaks as necessary - overexertion can bring on a heart attack. (Source)
  • If you’re able, avoid driving. If you are unable to stay home, slow down, maintain at least three times the normal following distance, stay at least 200 feet behind snow plows, and use extra caution on bridges, ramps, and overpasses. If your vehicle starts to slide, ease off the gas pedal or brakes and steer into the direction of the skid. Never walk on the highway as drivers could lose control and hit you. (Source)
 

Follow for Important Updates

You can also follow the social media accounts below  to receive timely updates on important information regarding weather conditions, safety tips, and more.
 
National Weather Service (NWS): Facebook | Twitter 
Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM): Facebook | Twitter
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT): Facebook | Twitter
Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT): Facebook | Twitter
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Facebook | Twitter
ReadyGov: Facebook | Twitter