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Disaster relief is now available for 35 Texas counties after severe storms. Here's how to get it

An American flag flies in the wind. Behind it is a large pile of broken wood and other rubble.
Toluwani Osibamowo
Damage left behind by a tornado that passed through Valley View, Texas, over Memorial Day weekend on May 25, 2024.

Ellis, Navarro and Terrell counties are the latest Texas counties added to the Federal Disaster Declaration for severe storm damage throughout the state.

There are now 35 total counties eligible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's individual assistance program. That includes Cooke County, where a Disaster Recovery Center opened last week.

The recovery center is located in Valley View, at Valley View Elementary School and is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Disaster registration through FEMA has a deadline of July 16. But FEMA spokesperson Nikki Gaskins Campbell said the disaster recovery center will be open for as long they see a community need for it.

"Whether you are uninsured or underinsured, reach out to us and see how we can help you with the process and navigate the process," she said.

Valley View sustained significant damage Memorial Day weekend when an estimated EF-3 tornado ripped through the community of about 800 people. At least seven people were killed in Cooke County and residents in Valley View are still attempting to rebuild their lives.

As part of its disaster assistance response, Gaskins Campbell said FEMA also has crews going door to door in affected areas to find out how they can assist residents.

"We're just trying to cross all our T's and dot all our I's to make sure we're trying to reach as many people as possible," she said.

What to know about disaster recovery relief

If you live in a county listed under the Federal Disaster Declaration and sustained damage to your primary residence, you may be eligible for FEMA disaster assistance.

Gaskins Campbell said disaster assistance can come in the form of grant money that does not have to be repaid.

"One of the big ways this money can be used for you is for your recovery. For basic home repairs, we want to get you back in your home so it's safe, sanitary and habitable," she said. "Some other ways this disaster assistance can be used is for medical, dental."

The assistance can also be used for funeral expenses.

However, Gaskins Campbell said people with homeowners' or renters' insurance should always go to their provider first before applying for FEMA aid.

"We will want to know what your insurance is going to cover to to determine to see what we may be able to offer you," she said.

The Small Business Administration is also stationed at the Valley View disaster recovery center.

SBA spokesperson Javier Caltenco said their assistance extends to businesses of all sizes and includes homeowners and renters.

The SBA offers loans — which have to be paid back — for both physical and economic damages.

"We understand that they may be a little more challenging, you know, financially," he said. "So therefore, we want to make sure that they're able to make those payments that they have, like, for example, water, electricity, payroll, et cetera."

Additional assistance is available through the Texas Workforce Commission, which added eight additional counties to its eligibility list for Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

Residents in Collin, Cooke, Dallas and Denton counties are among those eligible in North Texas.

Workers and self-employed people in the eligible counties unable to work due to severe weather damage can apply for the disaster unemployment assistance.

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Megan Cardona is a daily news reporter for KERA News. She was born and raised in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and previously worked at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.