East Texans look to insurance companies, FEMA to help pay for winter storm damage

Residents in 20 East Texas counties now eligible for federal help

Help with winter storm damage

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - East Texans are getting a better idea of the damage from last week’s winter storm. So far, hundreds of thousands of Texans have filed insurance claims and more are expected.

“From Tyler to El Paso we’re hearing from customers with damage and much of the damage is connected to frozen and burst water pipes and associated water damage,” said State Farm’s Chris Pilcic.

Pilcic said the company had 75 claims in Texas last year dealing with frozen and burst water pipes. That number this year is already up to 34,000.

“And we expect that number to go up in the coming days,” Pilcic said.

Insurance agents say claims are pouring in from across East Texas, much like the water that went pouring into the home of Jill Lovelady in Flint.

“My bathroom is flooded, my master closet, my bedroom, water seeped into one of the spare bedrooms and my living room,” she said.

Lovelady didn’t have renters insurance, meaning federal aid is her first stop. Smith County is one of the twenty East Texas counties currently included in President Joe Biden’s Major Disaster Declaration. Gov. Greg Abbott has requested all counties be covered by the declaration, which allows residents to file for individual assistance.

“I’ve applied for help with FEMA,” Lovelady said. “The application process is still pending. I’m waiting on an inspector to call me and then my case status will be updated, but they’re so backed up right now.”

For those with insurance, FEMA can help cover what insurance doesn’t. FEMA spokesman Earl Armstrong said if you are covered, you must first file a claim with your insurance company.

Click here to apply for help from FEMA

“If you’ve had to buy supplies or pay somebody, we might be able to reimburse you for the things that your insurance company doesn’t,” he said. “If you had to leave your home, you may be eligible for some rental assistance.”

Both FEMA and the insurance companies agree that it’s important to document everything.

“It’s always a good idea to document all of the work that you’re doing by taking pictures and video and saving all of your receipts,” Pilcic said. “You also want to make sure you’re trustful of the contractor working on your home. Ask friends and colleagues and get multiple estimates that are detailed and in writing. And if you have any questions for you insurance company, reach out and help us guide you on that road to recovery.”


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