Texas ice storm: Disaster declaration issued for Travis County

After boarding a StarFlight helicopter, Travis County judge Andy Brown got a birdseye view of the winter storm damage. 

He says areas Northwest of Austin were hit the hardest.

"Based on what we saw today and our discussions with our emergency response staff I intend to declare a disaster declaration today in Travis County," says Travis County Judge Andy Brown

Two disaster declarations, signed Friday afternoon by judge Brown and Austin mayor Kirk Watson, will provide FEMA public assistance funds.

"Under FEMA public assistance program the threshold is for accessing funds for Travis County is 5.7 million dollars. If that threshold is met, FEMA will reimburse 75 percent overall expenses which includes the cost of debris removal and protective measures and any damage the county owned facilities or obviously in the city's case the same for the city," says Judge Brown.

Some of the funds will also be used to help residents who have lost power.

"If somebody has some personal expenses, meaning to their household resulting needing to reconnect needing to hire an electrician, some of this money can go to that as well," says Austin Mayor Kirk Watson.

On Friday, Mayor Watson answered the question many were wondering, why did they wait until Friday to issue disaster declarations?

"One of the reasons why we are doing it now is because frankly you need to get through some of this, so you can actually assess the level of damage," says Mayor Watson.

Additional resources have already been called in to assist with winter storm recovery efforts especially with all the downed trees and debris.

"We asked the state for assistance they're going to be deploying five chainsaw teams," says Juan Ortiz, with the Emergency Management with the City of Austin.

Mayor Watson says after watching the series of events that happened this week, the city will now look at ways to improve their storm response and be prepared for storms like this.

"When I say we will look at this up and down we will look at what other cities do and did and try to overlay it here in Austin to see if it translates on what we out to be doing and should've been doing here in Austin," says Mayor Watson.

To assist those who are still without power, there will be a drive-thru food distribution event Saturday, Feb. 4 from 9-11 a.m. at the Onion Creek Soccer Complex.