Houston relief fund on the way in wake of historic winter storm

Like past disasters such as Harvey and Imelda, Houstonians are in for a long recovery. A fund will be able to help those who need relief the most.

Video Transcript

SAMICA KNIGHT: If you are one of the thousands in need of some help fixing your damaged home, federal help is available. Action 13's Jeff Ehling joins us now live with what you need to know about the FEMA application process.

JEFF EHLING: Yeah, Samica and Tom, you throw out that number, $45, $50 billion. Our house had a leak. It costs $500 just for one leak. Imagine all those houses all across Texas that are going to need help.

If you've got damage to your home, now is the time to get that FEMA application started. 77 counties in Texas are in the disaster declaration, of course, including Harris County. Here are some very important numbers that you're going to want to write down.

Don't worry if you miss these numbers that are on your screen right now. Don't stress out. We do have these numbers on our website, ABC13.com, so you can get them very quickly. You can apply for aid online by visiting disasterassistance.gov.

There's also a mobile app. You can just use your mobile phone if you want to download that app. You can also, of course, use your telephone and call toll free that number 800-621-3362. That will help you to start this process.

But here's the thing. Before you call, there are some steps that you're going to need to take in order to get through this rather quickly. Make sure you've got pictures of your damaged items and damage in your house. Make a list of all of the items that were damaged. Keep that list handy, and, remember, if you have insurance, you're supposed to file a claim with your insurance company before you contact FEMA. Very important there.

As for those who got those outrageous power bills that Tom and Samica were speaking about, the bills that were in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, the state is working to make sure you're not going to have to pay those massive bills.

- If the retail electric providers will not amend their bills, if they will not amend their bills, then the state should assume that added cost that resulted as a result of the blackouts that occurred this past week.

JEFF EHLING: And Governor Greg Abbott has gone on the record already stating that the process to protect families from those high-cost power bills has already started. He says, that legislation is already currently on a fast track in Austin.

Again, as for that FEMA information, we've got it on our website, ABC13.com. But the best advice, go ahead and take lots of pictures of your damage. List all of that stuff separately. Then make the call. Don't forget, if you have homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance, contact your insurance company first, guys.

TOM KOCH: Yeah. Well, the governor and all state lawmakers are under a lot of pressure to get some things done right away, right?

JEFF EHLING: I tell you what, there is a very urgent need to get a lot of this stuff taken care of immediately. When the governor talked about having an emergency meeting to start this process, this ball rolling, it has begun. So yeah, a lot of Texans are in need right now. The governor knows that. The president knows it. There's a lot of help available for people who need that help so desperately this morning.