Wichita County not approved for more FEMA assistance

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 7:30 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - FEMA has approved additional winter storm assistance for some Texas counties but not all of them. Wichita County is not one that received the full amount of assistance that was out there.

Only 44 out of 254 Texas counties received full assistance from FEMA for the winter storm. However, Wichita County did receive small amounts of additional assistance and officials said that they expected it to go this way.

“When you apply for damage, you apply for everything,” said John Henderson, emergency management coordinator for Wichita Falls.

Wichita County applied for additional winter storm assistance a few months ago. There were seven different categories, but there are a lot of specifics and guidelines to be able to qualify for each one and Wichita County did not meet most of them, including the minimum cost of damage from the storm.

“After we turned it in, FEMA disallowed $308,000 of what we submitted,” said Henderson. “That initially drops us well below $511,000. That’s probably the reason we were denied other categories.”

“While we look that we had damage, I just think that FEMA said we just didn’t have enough damage to warrant them paying for it,” said Henderson.

Henderson said if you look at other Texas counties, they got hit way harder than Wichita County did, so he understands FEMA’s decision on not giving them full additional assistance.

“We were lucky that we were only out three to four days,” said Henderson. “I think citizens remember that we didn’t run out of water. We had water, we had sewer, we never lost our plants.”

Although there is speculation that another freezing winter is around the corner following an abnormally cool summer, some experts don’t believe that is the case.

“The climate prediction center is actually saying that we have a 70-80% chance of seeing a fairly strong La Niña this year,” said Garrett James, News Channel 6 First Alert Meteorologist. “If that’s the case, then we are actually possibly looking at the case for a warmer and dryer winter this year.”

Although Wichita County did not receive the big check from FEMA, Henderson believes it won’t have a negative effect on the county if another winter storm was to hit.

“I don’t think it is going to hurt us,” said Henderson. “I think that having it has helped us. I think we have learned a few things. For one thing we know we were able to survive.”

“I feel like we could hold up fairly well,” said James. “We know some things more than we did last time and so I feel like if this was to happen again we would be ready to take it seriously instead of an I’ll believe it when I see it kind of thing.”

Wichita County has the opportunity to appeal the decision and submit additional costs from the winter storm by Oct. 1.

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