Breaking News
More () »

Why can't I sign up for FEMA assistance after Imelda?

Southeast Texas has to reach a threshold before getting FEMA assistance.

BEAUMONT, Texas — As the floodwaters from Tropical Storm Imelda recede, the biggest question on many southeast Texans' mind is how do I get help recovering? 

Despite widespread flooding across the area from Imelda, Beaumont is still well below the threshold to receive federal funding, according to State Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-District 22. 

According to a post on Deshotel's Facebook page, there has been $3 million in reported public assistance damages. The FEMA requirement is $37.7 million. 

Deshotel told 12 News that it's critical for anyone with flood or storm damage to report it as soon as possible. A FEMA spokesperson told 12 Newsyou cannot register with FEMA until a disaster is declared.

Here is a guide for how to report damage.

County-by-county list of how to report storm damage

For individual assistance, Deshotel said there needs to be about 800 homes with 18 inches or more of water that do not have insurance. As of 10 a.m. Saturday, there have been about 2,400 insurance claims and only 300 reported without insurance. 

Deshotel said FEMA teams will arrive in Beaumont Monday to assess the damage. Crews from the State of Texas and local officials are already assessing damage in the area. 

FEMA assistance is not available yet. There are three steps required before FEMA assistance is available according to Chambers County Emergency Management. First, the local jurisdiction has to issue a disaster declaration and send to the Governor, which Judge Sylvia did on the 9-18-19. Secondly, Governor Abbott has to issue a state declaration and sends to the President, which he has. Thirdly, the President has to make a declaration, which then opens the door to potential FEMA assistance.  As of Thursday, this declaration has not happened.  It does not mean it will not happen, it means that information and damage reports are being compiled by the state to send to the President.

RELATED: Flooded home? Here's how to get started with cleanup

If your home has flood damage and you don't know where to begin, here are the first steps you should take.

  • Be careful entering your home: If possible, wear protective shoes and clothing.
  • Document the damage: Take lots of pictures and jot down notes before cleaning up.
  • Contact Entergy: If outlets and fuse boxes got wet, don't touch them until you get the OK.
  • Drying out: Remove all standing water and clean surfaces with bleach.
  • Beware of mold: It can form 24 to 48 hours after a flood.

If you have flood insurance, file a claim with your insurance company. An insurance adjuster will come to inspect your home. You will work with the adjuster on what your policy covers. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out