Shortly before noon today, Feb. 22, Kerr County Judge Rob Kelly signed a proclamation declaring the county in a “Local State of Disaster” due to the severe and damaging winter weather experienced last week here and in surrounding areas of the Texas Hill Country. The move gets local residents and business owners one step closer to being able to receive federal funds to repair and recover from damages caused during the extreme winter storm.
After the Kerr County Courthouse, 700 Main Street in Kerrville, was closed for an entire week, because employees and county elected officials could not safely travel there, and the commissioners’ court session originally schedule today, Feb. 22, was postponed to the following Monday, March 1, the county judge said he felt it imperative to wait no longer to get this designation on record.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had signed a statewide disaster declaration before the winter weather event on Feb. 12, and requested both public assistance and individual assistance in getting Texans through this historic, once-in-a-century storm.
Originally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency – FEMA – had approved 77 counties for both public and individual assistance. Kerr County was only approved for public assistance at the time, according to Kerr County Emergency Management Coordinator William B. “Dub” Thomas.
FEMA defines individual assistance as money given directly to residents who “sustained losses due to disaster” to help them repair and recover, while public assistance is provided to repair or replace infrastructure damaged or destroyed by disaster, Thomas explained.
“Since Kerr County has already been included in the disaster declaration for public assistance, we have been given a tool that will greatly help local, emergency management, as well as state and federal government determine the scope of the damage,” Thomas said.