Breckenridge Texan

Disaster declaration issued for Breckenridge, Stephens County due to storm damage

Disaster declaration issued for Breckenridge, Stephens County due to storm damage
May 15
20:53 2022

By Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Stephens County Judge Michael Roach and Breckenridge Mayor Bob Sims have issued a joint Disaster Declaration for Stephens County and Breckenridge in response to damage in the area caused by a severe thunderstorms on Friday evening, May 13.

According to the declaration, it was issued because the storms produced large hail for a prolonged period in Stephens County and Breckenridge, causing damaged roofs, broken windows, fallen limbs and other damages to automobiles, homes, non-profit organizations and businesses.

Roach said that while he was driving around surveying the area hit by the storm, he saw quite a bit of damage, including broken windows in businesses and homes, as well as some in the courthouse. He said there were downed tree limbs and power and communication lines, and lots of roof damage and yard lights and decorations at homes damaged. He said there was also a lot of hail damage to vehicles, including broken windshields.

What the declaration means

Roach said while there was significant damage to the area, there was not enough damage dollars-wise to meet the thresholds for FEMA or the State to get involved; however, the declaration does allow for assistance from non-profit organizations, like the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and groups like the Texas Baptist Men.

“We’re not anywhere near any of those thresholds,” Roach said. “So we’re not going to get, by our disaster declaration, any assistance from the state or federal government. So the purpose of the disaster declaration was that there are a lot of nonprofits that will help in a community that’s had a local disaster. So while it’s not state assistance, there’s quite a few resources that are available to local residents that are not state or federal, but they’re very, very helpful.”

He said groups like the Texas Baptist Men will come in and do things such as help victims who might be elderly, on a fixed income, or whose insurance claim is going to be a lengthy process put tarps over their roofs to protect their valuables in their home in case there’s more bad weather later.

“And then there are some programs that actually can help folks with more things than that. Maybe replace a roof or shingles in certain areas. It’s not extensive, and it’s not guaranteed,” Roach said. “So, what we need folks to do who need assistance, is fill out that assessment tool that’s available on our Facebook page. And it has a link there where you go in, and I did it. And it didn’t take me two minutes to fill it out. And just shows who you are, what you’re needing assistance with.”

He said, when people fill out the form, it creates a local database for Stephens County that Roach can see. He said there is also a button on the form that you click to share the information with the nonprofit groups that help the state.

“So basically, it gives them permission to see that, these other groups, Red Cross, Salvation Army…The Texas Baptist Men and whatnot,” Roach said. “And then (the nonprofit groups) can actually reach out to these folks directly and say, ‘Hey, how can we assist you?’”

He said the database helps the county and state know the scope of who all needs help. “We really don’t know that right now; we just know there’s a whole bunch of damage, not how severe it is, how many people are truly in need,” he said. “So this helps us see who needs assistance right away, to be able to preserve their property. Like, again, tarps over roofs or windows and things like that.”

Also, the database helps them narrow down a list of people who do not have insurance or can’t physically, maybe because of their age or disability, be able to help themselves and really need help. For example, if there is somebody who is disabled with damage to their property and it’s at risk from something like a hole in the roof, they may go to the front of the line first, before somebody who has insurance and is just waiting for their claim to be settled.

“So that tool helps us do that,” he said. “That’s the only way we’re going to really know who needs help. So right now, what we need folks to do is go in to that portal, fill that assessment tool out, submit that so we can see that data.”

Roach said he wants people to understand that by filling out the form, it is not a guarantee that somebody’s going to knock on their front door, 10 minutes later with a check, new roof or assistance. “It is just a tool to help us sort through what we’re looking at, and then start reaching out to people from there,” he said.

“I just want folks to realize, too, that filling out the assessment tool does not necessarily mean that it’s approval for assistance,” he said. “It’s just data, so we can then compile that and then put the high priority needs first, start there and see … what resources are available from these nonprofits to be able to help and then go from there. So the disaster declaration allows these people to come in. That tool that the State offers helps everybody look and see what the needs are, and then we can start reaching out and meeting those needs from there.”

 


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