Hundreds of thousands of customers across central and north Texas lost power for multiple days at the beginning of February due to downed power lines from ice buildup and fallen tree branches. According to the Public Utility Commission, the outage peak reached 422,000, 41 percent of which were in Travis County.
“The severe winter storm that swept across our state caused damage of such severity and magnitude that I am requesting a Presidential Disaster Declaration,” Abbott said in the letter. “This critical federal assistance will allow Texas communities to rebuild and recover by providing necessary financial resources for emergency response, debris removal, and infrastructure damages.”
According to the governor’s office, localities have reported more than $63 million in infrastructure damages. White House approval would greenlight the affected areas for FEMA assistance, which includes grant awards to pay for cleanup and infrastructural repairs.
Those counties included in the state’s disaster declaration are Bastrop, Blanco, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Delta, Denton, Falls, Hays, Henderson, Hopkins, Hunt, Kendall, Lamar, Lee, Leon, Milam, Red River, Robertson, Shelby, Smith, Travis, and Williamson.
After the 2021 blackouts, FEMA provided at least $202 million to Texas applicants for repairs to their property.
Abbott’s letter also requests a statewide grant for hazard mitigation.
The outages caused fallout in Austin, so much so that the city council fired City Manager Spencer Cronk after discovering he hadn’t implemented certain recommendations from the 2021 blackouts.
At one point, more than half the customers in Milam County were out of power.
Concluding his letter, Abbott told Biden, “We will rebuild and recover, but we are fatigued. The constant onslaught of record-breaking storms has affected our first responders, depleted our resources, and caused undue mental and financial stress to Texans.”
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.