Over the last week, millions of Texas have faced things they never thought they would have to face. But as always, Texas pulled together. Everything is bigger in Texas…including our toughness, tenacity, and caring for our fellow Texans.
Below you will find important information from the state and Governor Abbott and what they are doing in the aftermath of the storm to help Texans.
Governor Abbott, TDEM Urge Texans To Submit Self Reporting Damage Survey
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) are encouraging Texans to complete the Self Reporting Damage Survey to help the state identify damages across Texas and help emergency management officials gain an understanding of damages that occurred during the recent winter weather. This data is also needed to provide information to FEMA and highlight the need for federal disaster assistance for individuals.
The voluntary survey, available in both English and Spanish, can be accessed by visiting: www.TDEM.texas.gov/warm. Reporting damage to the Texas Division of Emergency Management is a voluntary activity, is not a substitute for reporting damage to an insurance agency, and does not guarantee disaster relief assistance.
“I urge Texans to fill out the Self Reporting Damage Survey and provide crucial information on the winter weather impacts to their home or property,” said Governor Abbott. “The information gleaned from this survey will help our state identify the full impact of this winter weather and help emergency management better serve Texans.”
Governor Abbott Holds Emergency Meeting With Legislature To Address Spike In Texas Energy Bills
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today convened a meeting with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan, and members of the Legislature to discuss the spike in energy bills affecting many Texans following the recent power outages throughout the state.
“We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills that are a result of the severe winter weather and power outages,” said Governor Abbott. “Today’s meeting was productive, and I applaud Republican and Democrat members of the Legislature for putting aside partisan politics to work together on this challenge. We are moving quickly to alleviate this problem and will continue to work collaboratively throughout this week on solutions to help Texas families and ensure they do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills.”
A readout of the meeting can be found below:
Governor Abbott opened the call by discussing financial challenges many Texans will face as a result of the winter storm. He also gave an update on his conversations with the White House and potential federal relief that may be available to Texans.
The Governor discussed the need to ensure that Texans are not left with unreasonable utility bills they cannot afford because of the temporary massive spike in the energy market.
Senator West stressed the need for Republicans and Democrats to work together on this issue. The Senator noted that this group of legislators and state leaders will not allow politics to get in the way of solving this problem for Texans. Lt. Governor Patrick and Speaker Phelan discussed the need to swiftly develop a solution for Texans.
The discussion with legislators focused on the need to quickly calculate the total cost of these energy bills and how the state can help reduce this burden.
The call concluded with a discussion about addressing the immediate needs of Texans and how to ensure that Texans are protected long-term.
In addition to the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House, the following legislators attended the meeting:
- Senate Jane Nelson – Chair of Senate Finance Committee
- Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. – Vice Chair of Senate Finance Committee
- Senator Kelly Hancock – Chair of Senate Business and Commerce Committee
- Senator Robert Nichols – Vice Chair of Senate Business and Commerce Committee
- Senator Royce West – Vice Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee
- Representative Greg Bonnen – Chair of House Appropriations Committee
- Representative Chris Paddie – Chair of House State Affairs Committee
- Representative Ana Hernandez – Vice Chair of House State Affairs Committee
- Representative Craig Goldman – Chair of House Energy Resources Committee
Governor Abbott Declares ERCOT Reform An Emergency Item
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today declared the reform of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) an emergency item this legislative session. In declaring this item an emergency, the Governor is calling on the legislature to investigate ERCOT and ensure Texans never again experience power outages on the scale they have seen over the past several days.
“The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours,” said Governor Abbott. “Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable. Reviewing the preparations and decisions by ERCOT is an emergency item so we can get a full picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions. I thank my partners in the House and Senate for acting quickly on this challenge, and I will work with them to enhance Texas’ electric grid and ensure that our state never experiences power outages like this again.”
White House Partially Approves Governor Abbott’s Request For A Major Disaster Declaration
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that President Biden has partially approved Texas’ request for a Major Disaster Declaration. The Governor requested the Major Disaster Declaration on Thursday for Individual Assistance and Public Assistance in all 254 counties. The Biden administration approved the request for Individual Assistance in 77 counties and for Public Assistance (Emergency Protective Measures Only) in all 254 counties.
The Governor and the Texas Division of Emergency Management will continue to work to ensure the federal government provides appropriate assistance to individual Texans as well as to the state and local governments.
“I thank President Biden for his assistance as we respond to impacts of winter weather across our state,” said Governor Abbott. “While this partial approval is an important first step, Texas will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure all eligible Texans have access to the relief they need. The funds provided under the Major Disaster Declaration may provide crucial assistance to Texans as they begin to repair their homes and address property damage.”
The Governor requested the Major Disaster Declaration in order to provide Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, and Hazard Mitigation for individuals and communities affected by this week’s severe winter weather.
The following counties were approved for Individual Assistance:
Angelina, Aransas, Bastrop, Bee, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Brazoria, Brazos, Brown, Burleson, Caldwell, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Collin, Comal, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Dallas, Denton, DeWitt, Ellis, Falls, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gillespie, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hood, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Kendall, Lavaca, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Maverick, McLennan, Montague, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Nueces, Orange, Palo Pinto, Panola, Parker, Polk, Rockwall, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Scurry, Shelby, Smith, Stephens, Tarrant, Travis, Tyler, Upshur, Van Zandt, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Wharton, Wichita, Williamson, Wilson, and Wise Counties.
Individuals and business owners in counties included in the President’s declaration who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585.
Governor Abbott Waives Certain Regulations To Allow Trucks From Alcohol Industry To Deliver Grocery Supplies
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today waived regulations to enable trucks from the alcohol industry to deliver non-alcoholic grocery supplies, including bottled water and other necessities, to grocery stores. These waivers will help expedite the delivery and replenishment of products in grocery stores across the state.
“These waivers will provide more trucks, drivers, and logistical support to retailers who are working to replenish their stock in the aftermath of the winter storm,” said Governor Abbott. “We are taking action to ensure Texans continue to have access to food as our state recovers.”
Governor Abbott Announces EPA Approval Of Waivers To Expedite Fuel To Texas Communities
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today issued a statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued waivers to increase access to gasoline and diesel fuel in certain Texas communities impacted by winter weather.
These waivers temporarily allow for the use of an additional or alternate type of fuel for Texas Low Emissions Diesel and oxygenated gasoline fuels. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality submitted a request for these waivers yesterday.
“Thank you to the Environmental Protection Agency for swiftly granting these waivers that will help increase access to fuel in our communities,” said Governor Abbott. “These waivers help ensure that our fuel supply can quickly reach communities as the state of Texas recovers from the impact of recent winter weather.”
Governor Abbott Waives Certain Regulations For Qualified Plumber’s Apprentices
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott has waived certain regulations for certain registered and qualified Plumber’s Apprentices in Texas. These waivers allow a Plumber’s Apprentice, who has met all other qualifications, to temporarily perform plumbing repairs without ‘direct’ supervision by a licensed plumber so long as the qualified Plumber’s Apprentice works under the general supervision of a responsible master plumber.
“These waivers will help meet the plumbing needs of Texans who have experienced burst pipes and other related damage from the severe winter weather,” said Governor Abbott. “By allowing certain registered and qualified Plumber’s Apprentices to perform these repairs, we will be able to expedite the recovery process throughout our communities.”
Governor Abbott, HHSC Waive Certain Regulations To Support Care Facilities’ Response To Winter Weather
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission have waived certain regulations related to the intake and transfer of Texans in assisted living facilities, nursing facilities, and other long-term care facilities to aid in the response to severe winter weather events.
These waivers provide flexibility for long-term care facilities to exceed the capacity limits established in their licenses and also provide flexibility for paperwork and processes to be completed prior to admitting, transferring, or discharging long-term care recipients.
These waivers also temporarily reduce limitations on the transfer of Medicaid beds between nursing facilities and allows a home and community-based services four-person residence to temporarily increase capacity.
“These waivers will help long-term care facilities respond to winter weather impacts by temporarily easing regulations related to capacity, transfers, intake, discharges, and related processes and paperwork,” said Governor Abbott. “We will continue to provide our communities with the flexibility and support they need to safely and efficiently respond to the impact of this winter weather.”
Comptroller’s Office Secures Temporary Waiver Of Restrictions To Help With Diesel Fuel Supply
AUSTIN — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced today that, in partnership with Gov. Greg Abbott, the Comptroller’s office has lifted state restrictions on the use of dyed diesel fuel for vehicles on Texas roadways and suspended requirements to pay the state motor fuels tax on dyed diesel.
Hegar also announced that the Comptroller’s office has secured a temporary waiver from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to waive penalties and help clear the way for off-road diesel fuel to be used by on-road vehicles in all 254 counties to ensure the availability of reliable fuel sources for disaster relief.
Diesel fuel meant for off-road use only, such as in farm and construction equipment, isn’t taxed. Since 1994, federal law has required such diesel fuel to be dyed bright red to signify its taxability status. Using dyed diesel on the highway, or knowingly selling it for such use, is illegal under both Texas and federal law.
If vehicles powered by dyed diesel fuel are used on highways, the operator or the person selling the fuel must pay the federal tax of 24.4 cents per gallon that is normally applied to diesel fuel for highway use. The IRS will not impose penalties for failure to make semimonthly deposits of this tax. The state motor fuels tax of 20.0 cents per gallon is temporarily waived.
“The state motor fuels tax waiver, and the IRS penalty waiver, will help ensure fuel supplies for vehicles used by emergency responders, power companies, and others to transport supplies and respond to the needs of Texans affected by this unprecedented winter storm,” Hegar said. “Supply chains for fuel sources have been disrupted, and it’s critical that we get fuel into these vehicles. Our disaster recovery can’t be hampered by concerns about whether the diesel has been taxed for on-road use.”
The IRS penalty waiver is retroactive to the beginning of the storm and covers the period of Feb. 12, 2021, through Feb. 26, 2021.
The suspension of state restrictions and the suspension of the requirement to pay state motor fuels taxes on dyed diesel is in effect from Feb. 12, 2021, until Feb. 26, 2021, unless otherwise terminated by the Office of the Governor.
Governor Abbott, DSHS Suspend Regulations To Help Provide Meals To Texas Families
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott has issued waivers suspending certain regulations to help facilitate the preparation and delivery of food for Texans in the aftermath of power and water outages caused by the severe winter weather.
Under these waivers, individuals and groups will be allowed to use unlicensed kitchens to prepare meals to donate to Texans so long as they follow the Department of State Health Services’ guidance on food safety.
“As the State of Texas responds to this emergency, we are using all the tools at our disposal to ensure Texans have the resources they need,” said Governor Abbott. “Temporarily suspending these regulations will allow Texans to prepare and donate meals to help ensure that families have the food they need to support their families.”
Governor Abbott, HHSC Announce Federal Approval For SNAP Benefit Replacements Due To Winter Storm
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has received federal approval to allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to apply for replacement benefits for food lost or destroyed due to the severe winter weather by dialing 2-1-1.
“I thank our federal partners for swiftly approving SNAP benefit replacements for food lost or destroyed in the wake of this winter weather disaster,” said Governor Abbott. “This support is essential to help Texans continue to provide nutritious meals for their families in these challenging times.”
“Texas is committed to helping SNAP clients throughout the state replace food lost from the winter storm,” said Wayne Salter, Texas HHS Access and Eligibility Services deputy executive commissioner.
SNAP recipients who have had food lost or destroyed due to the storm need to apply for replacement food benefits for regular SNAP allotments and SNAP emergency allotments that were provided in response to COVID-19.
SNAP clients are encouraged to stay home and request their replacement food benefits by dialing 2-1-1 and selecting option 2. Alternatively, recipients can download Form H1855 (Affidavit for Nonreceipt or Destroyed Food Stamp Benefits) on the HHSC website.
To limit exposure to COVID-19, recipients are encouraged to mail or fax the completed form to HHSC instead of visiting their local offices. Completed forms should be mailed to Texas Health and Human Services Commission, PO Box 149027, Austin, TX, 78714-9027, or faxed to 1-877-447-2839.
For more information, please visit hhs.texas.gov.
Governor Abbott Provides Update On Winter Weather Response
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today provided an update on the state’s ongoing response to winter weather events throughout the state.
The Governor laid out four immediate priorities for the State of Texas, as well as what the state is doing to restore power and water and ensure that food and fuel demands are met throughout Texas.
The first immediate priority is continuing to restore power to Texas homes. While there are no longer any residential power outages due to lack of power generation, there are still some Texans without power due to downed lines or the need for manual reconnection.
The Governor assured Texans without power that local providers are working diligently to restore electricity.
The second priority is supporting local officials as they work to restore water for Texans. Today, the Governor issued waivers to cut red tape to accelerate this process. The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ), as of 5 PM today, is standing up a phone bank for local water utilities who are unable to get water testing at their contracted labs.
This phone bank will connect local facilities with another lab that can test their water quickly. TCEQ has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stand up three mobile water testing labs. In addition, the state is partnering with local river authorities to use their water labs to assist locals with bacteria sampling. Texas has also partnered with the state of Arkansas to use their labs.
Additionally, TCEQ is coordinating with larger local labs that have testing availability to assist smaller municipalities. The Governor noted that he held a call earlier today with the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners (TSBPE) to discuss ways to quickly repair burst pipes for Texans across the state.
As of noon today, over 320 plumbers have renewed their license, and TSBPE is coordinating with multiple out-of-state plumbing companies to send additional plumbers to Texas.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) is continuing to deliver bottled water to communities facing water shortages or water quality issues. Over 1.7 million bottles of water have been delivered to communities across the state.
The third priority is ensuring Texans have the food and supplies they need. The Governor noted that he has already suspended some regulations relating to commercial vehicles, which will speed the delivery of food and other resources to communities across the state.
The State is taking steps to open new fuel supply lines to ensure truckers, agriculture producers, emergency responders, and anyone else that runs on diesel will be able to get food to stores and supplies to Texans in need. The Governor announced that he is allowing the use of off-road road diesel on Texas roads.
Governor Abbott and Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar are requesting fuel waivers from the EPA and the IRS to allow for the use of all forms of diesel on Texas roads to keep our truckers moving. As road conditions continue to improve, more food and supplies will be delivered to grocery stores across the state.
The fourth priority is helping refineries get back up and running to provide Texans with the fuel they need. In addition to fuel regulation suspensions previously mentioned, the Governor spoke with oil and gas refineries earlier today to work on strategies to get their operations up and running again.
“Thanks to the efforts of linemen, plumbers, first responders, truckers, farmers, ranchers, grocery store workers, refinery workers, and more, we continue to make tremendous strides to overcome the challenges of the past week,” said Governor Abbott. “We know that this past week has been challenging for far too many Texans. Our state agencies are working around the clock to restore power and water, and to ensure Texans have food and supplies. I want to reassure the people of Texas that we are using every tool at our disposal to help those in need. We have overcome challenges in the past, and we will overcome this challenge together.”
For winter weather resources, including a map of warming centers and ways to help Texans in need, visit: https://open.texas.gov/winter
Governor Abbott Holds Call With Representative From Oil And Gas Refinery Industry
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today held a call with oil and gas refinery organizations to discuss efforts to support refineries following the severe winter weather and water and power outages.
The Governor was joined for the call by refinery representatives who explained the challenges and needs facing their industry as they work to get their operations up and running to provide gasoline for Texas families and businesses.
A readout of the call can be found below:
Governor Abbott began the call by thanking refinery representatives and their workers for their efforts in response to the severe winter weather events. The Governor stressed the important role that these refineries play in ensuring the supply of gasoline that Texas families need to fuel their vehicles and that businesses need to transports goods and supplies throughout the state.
The Governor also discussed actions the State of Texas is already taking to restore power and water, as well as actions to support refineries.
Following the Governor’s remarks, representatives from the refinery industry provided Governor Abbott with a detailed explanation of the challenges they’re facing, as well as solutions to get their refineries up and running again.
The representatives on the call also discussed additional steps that the State of Texas can take to expedite the process for refineries to come back online to continue producing gasoline for Texas families and businesses.
The Governor closed out the call by thanking members of the oil and gas refinery industry for their tireless work and by promising that the State of Texas will use all available tools and resources to help the industry supply Texas families and businesses with the fuel they need.
Governor Abbott Holds Call With Texas State Board Of Plumbing Examiners
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbot today held a call with the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners (TSBPE) to discuss the current response to severe winter weather that has impacted Texas. A readout of the call can be found below:
The Governor thanked the members of the TSBPE for helping their fellow Texans throughout the severe winter weather over the past week. Governor Abbott discussed actions that the State has already taken to help Texans with burst pipes and other plumbing-related damages from the winter weather.
The Governor heard from members of the TSBPE on other ways the state can assist Texans in need, as well as ways to support plumbers who are working across the state of Texas.
The Governor ended the call by extending the state of Texas’ gratitude for plumbers across the state and assured TSBPE that the state will continue to do whatever it takes to help plumbers efficiently and safely serve their fellow Texans.
Governor Abbott Requests USDA Disaster Designation In Response To Winter Weather Impact
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott has requested a USDA disaster designation for Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy counties in response to severe winter weather that has impacted the state.
This designation would make federal assistance, such as emergency loans, available to agricultural producers who have suffered losses in designated counties, as well as in counties that are contiguous to a designated county.
As additional production losses or losses to quality are assessed, the Governor will request that USDA extend its disaster designation to additional counties in Texas.
“Texas agricultural producers continue to be greatly affected by the severe ice and freezing temperatures; these weather conditions have substantially affected producers and caused severe production losses,” reads the letter. “These producers are in need of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assistance to return to normal operations.
For example, early estimates made by Texas Citrus Mutual show Texas citrus sustained approximately $305.0 million loss to the crop in Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy counties.
Total damage assessments are still being calculated, but daily agriculture operations across the entire state have been slowed both by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and by loss of electricity and continued freezing temperatures caused by severe winter weather.”
Governor Abbott Waives Certain Regulations To Help Deliver Resources To Texas Families
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today temporarily waived certain regulations from the Department of Motor Vehicles to aid in the response to winter weather and power outages throughout the state.
The waivers issued by the Governor will allow commercial vehicles conducting responsive activities to travel in Texas as long as the vehicle is registered elsewhere.
They will also allow commercial vehicles conducting responsive activities not currently registered under the International Registration Plan to travel in Texas, so long as the vehicle is registered in one of the 48 contiguous states in the U.S.
These waivers are helping increase the delivery of water, food, and other supplies to Texas communities dealing with power and water outages.
“As we continue to bring power and water back online throughout the state, it is essential that we deliver the food, water, and supplies that Texans need during these challenging times,” said Governor Abbott. “These waivers will help us provide more of these vital resources to communities across the state and ensure that Texas families have the supplies they need to stay safe as we work to overcome this emergency.”
These suspensions are in addition to the oversize and overweight permitting waivers and the hours of service requirement waivers issued by Governor Abbott last Friday, which allow critical infrastructure, food, water, and supplies to travel on the state highway system to areas of need.
Governor Abbott Declares Power System Winterization, Related Funding As Emergency Items, Provides Update On Winter Weather Response
Requests Major Disaster Declaration For Individual And Public Assistance
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today provided an update on the state’s response to winter weather and power outages. As part of his update, the Governor declared a new emergency item for this legislative session.
The Governor is asking the Legislature to mandate the winterization of Texas’ power system and for the Legislature to ensure the necessary funding for winterization.
In addition, the Governor announced he is requesting a Major Disaster Declaration — which includes Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program — from the White House.
This declaration will allow eligible Texans to apply for assistance to help address broken pipes and related property damage. The Governor previously requested a Federal Emergency Declaration from the White House which was granted on Sunday.
Power has been restored to nearly 2 million homes across Texas since yesterday’s briefing. This number continues to climb, and there are no more outages due to a lack of generation.
Every available repair truck in Texas has been dispatched to address downed power lines that are causing continued outages.
Earlier today, the Governor held calls with power and water providers to develop strategies that will increase access to additional power, as well as restore water and expedite additional clean water in communities across the state.
The state is also working to distribute food, water, generators, and additional supplies to Texas communities. Additionally, more warming centers continue to be established every day. For winter weather resources, including a map of warming centers and ways to help Texans in need, visit https://open.texas.gov/winter.
“The past several days have been beyond challenging, but with every passing hour we are restoring power and water for families across Texas,” said Governor Abbott. “We are doing all we can to make it through this challenge, and the state continues to deploy resources and personnel throughout the state. I want to thank the men and women who are working around the clock in harsh conditions to get the power up and running again, and I ask all Texans to keep them in their prayers. Texans should continue to take proper precautions and follow local guidance to stay safe and warm. We will get through this together.”
Comptroller’s Office Extends Due Date For Taxes And Fees
AUSTIN — Because of the winter storm and widespread power outages, the Feb. 22 due date for state taxes and fees to be reported and paid will be extended by one week, to March 1, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced today.
The due date extension applies to all state taxpayers. It is automatic, and taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms. A list of the affected taxes and fees can be found on the Comptroller’s website.
“In coping with this unprecedented weather event and the resulting blackouts, we understand the difficulty Texas businesses may face in filing returns by the Feb. 22 due date,” Hegar said. “Right now, we want business owners to focus on their own safety and ensuring their families, friends, neighbors, and loved ones get through this dangerous and challenging time.”
For more information, call the Comptroller’s toll-free tax assistance line at 800-252-5555.
Governor Abbott Announces Approval Of Federal Emergency Declaration For Severe Winter Weather
AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the White House has issued a Federal Emergency Declaration for Texas in response to the severe winter weather throughout the state. The Governor submitted a request for this declaration on Saturday to assist the State in response efforts related to the storm.
This Federal Emergency Declaration authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide emergency protective measures for mass care and sheltering and Direct Federal Assistance for all 254 counties in Texas.
“I thank President Biden for quickly issuing a Federal Emergency Declaration for Texas as we continue to respond to severe winter weather conditions throughout the state,” said Governor Abbott. “This disaster declaration provides Texas with additional resources and assistance that will help our communities respond to this winter weather.”