UPDATED: Wednesday, February 3, 2015

Questions about FEMA Assistance

Who is eligible for FEMA assistance?

FEMA and federal assistance is available for individuals and households in Travis, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Comal and certain other counties impacted by the severe storms, tornados, straight-line winds and flooding between October 22nd and 31st.

How do I get federal assistance from FEMA and federal agencies?

The first step to receive assistance from FEMA and other federal agencies is to register your loss by contacting FEMA. Survivors from the October severe weather can start registering for FEMA Assistance by calling 1-800-621-3362 or online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. FEMA inspectors will begin making appointments with residents that applied for assistance.

If I have homeowner or flood insurance, should I still register with FEMA?

Yes, FEMA and federal agencies may be able to provide assistance in the event that a survivor is under-insured, needs help financing repairs and construction, needs legal services. Federal assistance may help survivors with needs that are not covered by homeowner or flood insurance. In order to become eligible to federal assistance, you must register by calling 1-800-621-3362 or online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

What happens after I register my damaged home with FEMA?

When a survivor registers with FEMA and becomes eligible for a Damaged Housing Inspection, an inspection request is sent to a FEMA contractor inspector. The inspector contacts the survivor to set up an appointment for a time and date and also goes over what documentation needs to be provided for proof of residency. Then the inspector meets with the survivor at the residence and performs their inspection to document damages. The inspector will tell the survivor what they can except from FEMA after the inspection.

What types of assistance can FEMA provide?

Depending on the needs of Travis County, some of the services may include:

  • Guidance regarding disaster recovery
  • Clarification of any written correspondence received
  • Housing Assistance and Rental Resource information
  • Answers to questions, resolution to problems and referrals to agencies that may provide further assistance
  • Status of applications being processed by FEMA
  • SBA program information if there is a SBA Representative at the Disaster Recovery Center site
  • Crisis Counseling Program
  • Disaster Legal Services
  • Disaster Unemployment
  • Funeral Assistance - Individuals and Households Program

What if I need assistance that FEMA does not provide?

Travis County will work with FEMA to identify services needed by our community. The County and the State of Texas will continue to provide county and state services to citizens of Travis County. Additionally, the cities will continue to provide to city services to those within their city limits.

General Questions

Will the county help me with debris removal, including private property and roads?

Generally the County will not come onto private property to remove materials except in an emergency situation. Residents are encouraged to register with Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN) 512-806-0800. ADRN volunteers may be able to help with debris clean up. With Court authorization and as a last resort, the County (TNR) may be able to help if the property owner cannot afford to remove the debris and removal is not covered by insurance and the debris poses a health hazard.

What about removal of debris from creeks on my property?

Only storm debris will be collected. Trees and other vegetation that provide habitat for wildlife will not be removed.

Will the County remove vehicles or mobile homes from my property?

For vehicles or mobile homes that create a health and safety issue as determined by the Austin/Travis County Health Department, a Request for Assistance Form must be completed by the vehicle owner and by any property owner whose property must be crossed by the County to retrieve the vehicle or mobile home. A clear title to the vehicle or mobile home must be provided. If none exists then guidance from the County Attorney’s Office will be sought to determine the appropriate process for retrieving and disposing of the vehicle or mobile home.

If I need general assistance what number should I call?

There are various types of assistance. Generally, folks should be encouraged to register with Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN) at 512-806-0800. They can help with anything from volunteers to help clean up to help with temporary housing. Volunteer organizations are there to fill in the gaps and provide assistance where the Government or private/Federal flood insurance cannot.

If I need to rebuild- How soon can I have permit inspectors sent out?

Property owners or contractors can make application anytime online at MyPermitNow.org or at 700 Lavaca, 5th floor any business day between 8:30 AM and 4:00 PM. At a minimum, a contractor estimate for repair is required. Property owners do not have to use a contractor to complete the repair. A County inspection of the property is not required to apply for a permit.

Will I have to pay fees for the new permits?

It may be possible to have permit fees waived for income qualified property owners who did not have flood insurance; county staff will handle each request on a case-by-case basis. Property owners or contractors can make application anytime online at MyPermitNow.org or at 700 Lavaca, 5th floor any business day between 8:30 AM and 4:00 PM. In the project description, please note that your permit is related to flood repair and you are seeking a fee waiver. At a minimum, a contractor estimate for repair is required.

Will the County use existing or new Flood Insurance Rate Maps or new ones due out in January for processing permits to rebuild?

The Commissioners Court approved using the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps at the voting session on December 8, 2015.

What has or will the County do to determine why this event affected properties not in the designated floodplain?

The County is currently in the process of hiring a Consultant to complete an investigation. It is anticipated to take several months to hire a consultant, collect information, complete an analysis, and provide conclusions and recommendations. A schedule for completion of the work will be determined during contract negotiations.

What about Flood buyouts?

The County has not approved funding for buyouts associated with the October 2015 floods. We are evaluating flood damage reduction options for the affected areas. However, voluntary floodplain buyout may be an option for some flooded properties. Property owners interested in the voluntary buyout program are encouraged to submit an application to Travis County.

How do I start the buyout process?

Please contact Mickey Roberts at 512-854-6613 or Mickey.Robert@traviscountytx.gov. Applications are also available online.

Is this even possible to apply for buyout if the property is not in a flood plain?

To date the Commissioners Court has only purchased properties within the FEMA floodplain to mitigate for a flood hazard. However, the Court has the authority to conduct buy-outs outside the floodplain if they choose to do so.

What about pest management?

The county does not do any type of pest management or extraction. We pick up dead animals from the county right-of-way (contact TNR.Dispatch@traviscountytx.gov  or 512-854-9433) and TCSO has people that pick up living livestock from the public right-of-way. (If you feel it is an emergency, call 911. For all non-emergencies, contact the Travis County Sheriff’s Office at (512) 974-0845 OPT #3.

The City of Austin 311 helpline can also connect citizens to pick-up services for a dead animal. Vector control information, including information about rodents and mosquito control, is available online at http://www.austintexas.gov/department/vector-control. There is a concern regarding standing water, mosquitos and the potential spread of West Nile virus. The City of Austin 311 helpline, as well as the Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/westnile  is also a resource for this information.

If my home flooded and I do not reside in a flood plain, what are my next steps?

Property owners should first remove all of the wet materials from the structure. The structure should cleaned and be allowed to dry completely. A permit must be obtained prior to rebuilding the structure. Property owners or contractors can make application anytime online at MyPermitNow.org or at 700 Lavaca, 5th floor any business day between 8:30 AM and 4:00 PM.

How will the County help me?

Travis County Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program funds an owner occupied home repair program for homes outside the floodplain. Meals on Wheels and More (MOWAM) is the administrator of the program and have limited funds at this time, but are accepting applications. Additional CDBG funding is planned to be moved to the program to increase its capacity, but the process will take at least 60 days to do so. To learn more about the program, visit the Travis County website at: https://www.traviscountytx.gov/health-human-services/cdbg/current-projects  or you may contact MOWAM at 512-628-8171 or homerepair@mealsonwheelsandmore.org. Please note this program includes a forgivable loan of up to $24,999 and is fully forgiven after 5 years.

How does TNR’s role change throughout a flood event?

During the early stages of the event the priority is safety and to keep roads and bridges open for emergency service providers and evacuees to the extent possible and placing barricades at low water crossings. As the event moves into the recovery stage the following services were or are still being provided:

  • Remove storm debris from public property to maintain accessibility and support recovery;
  • Provide information and respond to requests for TNR assistance;
  • Accept and process applications for permits, buy-outs, and debris removal from private property;
  • Replace temporary repairs to public roads and bridges;
  • Provide dumpster services through its contractor;
  • Repair currently closed San Antonio Road bridge;
  • Provide 24/7 response to County road and bridge safety issues as they arise;
  • Perform damage assessments of private and public properties (assist FEMA as needed.)

What other county services are available to me and my family?

The Travis County Department of Health and Human Services and Veteran’s Services prides a variety of services through the Family Support Services division. Their website is a good place to start to see what services are available: https://www.traviscountytx.gov/health-human-services/divisions/family-support-services. Citizens can also call the 211 Helpline Navigation Center anytime. They provide simple, one-call access to call specialists and more than 30,000 nonprofit and government resources.

So a flood comes and completely destroys my home. What are all of my options for immediate shelter? What does the process look like & how long will this take? Who do I contact (County/State/City)?

There are various types of assistance. Generally, residents should be encouraged to register with Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN) at 512-806-0800. They can help with anything from volunteers to help clean up to help with temporary housing. Volunteer organizations are there to fill in the gaps and provide assistance where the Government or private/Federal flood insurance cannot. The 211 Helpline is also always available 24/7 as a resource.

Who do I contact if I am worried about looting?

If you feel it is an emergency, call 9-1-1. For all non-emergencies, contact the Travis County Sheriff’s Office at (512) 974-0845 OPT #3

I have no way to get to work. How can I get a bus pass?

You can buy CapMetro transit passes in person at the CapMetro Transit store and retail outlets like HEB and Randall’s, or you can go to their website for more information at http://www.capmetro.org/buy/ 

All of my forms of identification are gone after the flood. What is my first step and who/what office should I contact for this information?

It has been past practice to have the Texas Department of Public Safety at the Flood Assistance Center to provide new driver licenses for affected residents. There have also been contacts or other agencies as needed. Caseworkers and Social Workers know how to assist residents with the necessary referrals.

What do I do with my pet while I am in a shelter/temporary housing situation?

The City of Austin provides sheltering for pets at any time we have shelters opens for people. On a case-by-case basis, pets are permitted to stay in shelter while the people seek housing.

My child has special needs/I am disabled – what temporary housing options are available to us?

This answer is dependent upon individual circumstances. We would refer a family to Social Work Services.

In what ways will my immigration status impede access to any of the above-mentioned services?

The impact of immigration status will vary from program to program. Federal programs/funds will require citizenship questions.

Questions about Property in the County/State/City

What does it mean when someone’s property is in the County/State/City?

Someone’s property can only be in the city limits (ie: City of Austin) or outside city limits (County). If you are within a city limits, you have stricter zoning, are subject to City ordinances, and pay City taxes in order to receive city services like City Fire and Police. In the County, you do not have zoning and do not pay city taxes, but receive all County services such as Sheriff’s Office or Emergency Service Districts.

Why are properties separated in this way?

The Cities determine which areas to annex based on the tax revenue generated versus the cost of services to provide.

How do people find out what jurisdiction their property is in?

Call local City government, if in a City/Town/Village, etc.
Dial 311 or 512-974-2000

If not in a City/Town/Village, call their County government
Travis County TNR 512-854-9383

Look up their property taxing jurisdiction in http://www.traviscad.org/property_search.html 

Look up their location in https://www.traviscountytx.gov/maps 

Look up their location in the City of Austin maps http://www.austintexas.gov/GIS/developmentwebmap/ 

What are the e-mails, numbers and websites for people to call to find this out?

Call local City government, dial 311
City of Austin 512-974-2000
Submit request http://www.austintexas.gov/department/311 

Call Travis County TNR 512-854-9383
Email TNR.Web@TravisCountyTx.gov

Are they accessible to Spanish speakers?

The City of Austin has Spanish and/or language line

Travis County TNR has Spanish speakers available

Questions about Roads in the County/State/City

What does it mean when a road is a County/State/City road?

If a roadway has a number in its name like RM2222, FM973, US183, then it is a State highway maintained by TxDOT. All other roads are either County or City depending on if the roadway is located with City limits or outside city limits.

Why are roads separated in this way?

When a road is County/State/City, which means those respective entities maintain those roads specifically (Travis County, TxDOT, City of Austin.) There is no cross-maintenance between those entities. It is all based on funding sources for each jurisdiction.

What are the e-mails, numbers and website for people to call to find out who takes care of a particular road?

For roads inside a City, call the local information line, dial 311
Alternate number for the City of Austin 512-974-2000
Submit request http://www.austintexas.gov/department/311 

For roads outside a city.
Call Travis County TNR Roads Dispatch 512-854-9433
Email TNR.Dispatch@TravisCountyTx.gov 

For general overview map of County maintained roads https://www.traviscountytx.gov/maps 

For a specific road location of County maintained roads* http://traviscountytx.maps.arcgis.com/apps/SimpleViewer/index.html?appid=2c4151c6a74e40f4a07dd7241860261d 

For highways and tollroads, Call TxDOT 24 hour line at 512-974-0883. For TxDOT Spanish Speakers, Call the Austin District Main Office from 8 AM to 5 PM at 512-832-7000
http://www.txdot.gov/contact-us/form.html 

Are they accessible to Spanish speakers?

The City of Austin has Spanish and/or language line.

Travis County Dispatch has limited access to Spanish speakers.

TxDOT Austin District has limited access to Spanish speakers