Recovery process continues in Brazos Valley following storms, tornadoes

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While aid totaling more than $2 million has been approved so far for Brazos Valley residents affected by the tornadoes and flooding in late May, area emergency management coordinators say the recovery process will be slow as people continue to report losses and work with FEMA to obtain financial assistance.

Brazos, Grimes and Washington counties were among 12 Texas counties included in a federal disaster declaration June 11 following severe flooding across the state. Burleson County was one of seven added to the declaration later. Residents in the designated counties could be eligible for individual assistance grants, as well as low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

According to figures released Tuesday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 132 residents have received aid totaling $637,445 in Brazos County and 32 people in Burleson County have received $193,888 in aid. In Grimes County, 117 residents have received a total of $443,933, while in Washington County 206 residents have been helped for a total of $878,444.

In Grimes County, where a separate federal disaster declaration was approved in April, some residents devastated by flooding were hit a second time a month later following heavy rains and twisters — the National Weather Service confirmed one EF-1 and another EF-2 tornado in Navasota on May 26. Grimes County Emergency Management Coordinator David Lilly said at least 100 homes have been reported damaged.

“In some cases, folks had minimal damage, but in other cases a number of residents lost their home either due to tornados or flooding,” Lilly said. “We had several locations where folks were impacted again by flooding. The recovery process is a slow one, but the folks in Grimes County are recovering and FEMA has been an immense help to a lot of our folks in terms of getting claims processed and helping them get back on their feet.”

Lilly said residents who had property damaged in the April storms need to make a separate registration with FEMA if more damage occurred in May. He also encourages residents to file a claim for damages to driveways and private roads, even if their homes were not affected. FEMA will cover the cost of basic repairs to make the roads drivable again, and if repair work has already been done, Lilly said residents can submit receipts for the incurred costs.

While FEMA is processing claims, Lilly said he’s aware of a number of people who have already made repairs and rebuilt. One problem seen in Grimes County in the aftermath, Lilly said, is the mold left behind after the flood waters receded. He’s also noticed a lack of proper chemicals in stock at area stores needed to effectively remove mold from porous surfaces.

In Burleson County, Emergency Management Coordinator Duane Strange said one problem he’s noticed is some residents haven’t registered with FEMA because they thought it was done when representatives went door-to-door while touring the area following the storms. FEMA reminds residents that reporting damage to a county emergency management agency or getting help from the American Red Cross is not the same as registering for federal disaster assistance.

Strange said like in Grimes County, many Burleson County residents had private roads and driveways that were impassable. An estimated 90 homes were damaged — 21 were considered destroyed, mostly mobile homes, and 16 had major damage.

Residents who are doing repairs need to make sure to keep all receipts, take photos and document everything, Strange said. FEMA spokeswoman Rita Egan also recommends this, as well as checking with a municipality to see if building permits are required.

Washington County Emergency Management Coordinator Bryan Ruemke said he’s heard from some residents who are unhappy with what FEMA has offered them. In that case, he said, it’s best to communicate. FEMA also recommends Texans who receive letters telling them they’re ineligible for disaster assistance to not give up and to call back immediately if they disagree or have questions.

About 228 homes were damaged in Washington County and 18 were destroyed. Ruemke said some residents are still displaced, and the main goal is to get them back into their homes.

Michelle Meade, Brazos County’s emergency management coordinator, also said the recovery process is slowly moving along, with much of the work now being putting paperwork together to submit to the state. More than 200 homes and businesses were damaged in Brazos County following the May 26 tornado in Bryan and the heavy rains that followed.

Egan reminds residents that while there are three Disaster Recovery Centers open in Brazos, Grimes and Burleson counties where people can register, ask questions and write letters of appeal, there is a misconception that they may only visit the DRC in their county or immediate area. Egan said victims of the storms can go to any DRC, and can also call 800-621-3362 or visit to get help.


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Kyrie Wagner

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