FEMA in Williamson County to assess tornado damage from storms

The road to recovery continues for tornado survivors. Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were in Williamson County to conduct a damage assessment following the recent devastating tornadoes in Central Texas.

Just a thought of more aid coming brought hope to those hit hard by the storms. "It’s good news and I’m looking forward to whatever assistance they can provide," said Michael Talamantez whose home in Round Rock got destroyed.

FOX 7 Austin rode along with FEMA as they assessed the damage in Michael Talamantez‘s neighborhood. Throughout the day Wednesday FEMA took pictures and notes of the damage done to homes, as well as talking to those who live in the area. They plan to go to every home damaged by the tornados. This process is expected to take several days.

Williamson County officials recently completed their initial assessment of tornado damage. Officials reported more than 1,200 buildings received some type of damage from the tornadoes throughout the area. This number includes businesses. Just because FEMA has boots on the ground in the area does not mean federal money is available to these survivors. 

"FEMA is here to determine a need and if there is a need for federal support and if that is validated by the state of Texas and the White House then we will be here in the long run to support. It’s too early to tell whether or not that will be the case," said Ben Akers with FEMA external affairs.

The things FEMA is looking for are is the number of homes that are uninsured or underinsured. If they feel there is enough, then federal money comes into play. This decision typically takes about 30 days.

In the meantime, FEMA has urged tornado survivors to report damage to the state. "Disasters are locally managed, state-supported, and federally funded. It’s easier to start from the ground up, work with local officials, and make sure they have all the information needed to move forward," said Akers.

Survivors like Talamantez said they are grateful for all the help everyone has given them and welcome the idea of more aid if it becomes available. "Everybody has just been amazing so it’s been giving a lot of inspiration to begin rebuild as quickly as possible and that’s what we are going to do," said Talamantez.

Homeowners do not need to be home during these FEMA damage assessments. If FEMA shows up at a place where no one is, they will take pictures of what they can without trespassing on the property. 

For those affected by the tornadoes that need assistance, the MARC is open to anyone regardless if they live in the county or not. It is located at the Williamson County Expo Center at 5350 Bill Pickett Trail in Taylor. It is open Wednesday, March 30th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday, March 31 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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