Governor Abbott Requests SBA Disaster Declaration After FEMA Denies Disaster Aid For Southeast Texas Tornadoes

March 17, 2023 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott today announced that he directed Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to request a disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for Texas communities affected by severe weather and tornadoes in January, after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied Texas’ request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration on Wednesday. An SBA declaration would make federal assistance available in the form of disaster loans for Harris, Orange, and surrounding counties.
"While we are disappointed in the Biden Administration’s decision not to support communities impacted by severe weather with FEMA assistance, the State of Texas will continue to exhaust all available options to support our fellow Texans in need,” said Governor Abbott. “I urge the SBA to provide disaster loans for these impacted communities, and I thank TDEM for working to determine the state’s eligibility for assistance. There is no force more powerful than Texans helping Texans, and together we will continue to support those needing assistance so they can recover and move forward." 
If the state’s request is approved, the SBA would provide low-interest loans through its disaster programs to qualifying Texans whose homes and businesses sustained damage during the severe weather. 
Last month, the Governor requested President Biden declare a major disaster for the State of Texas in response to the severe weather that impacted Southeast Texas, which would have provided several types of federal resources to the residents of designated counties. 
Local, state, and federal officials conducted an analysis of damage sustained in Southeast Texas, which verifies that Harris and Orange counties meet the federally required thresholds for SBA assistance. Officials also reviewed disaster damage information self-reported by Texans through Individual State of Texas Assessment Tool (iSTAT) surveys.
On January 26, Governor Abbott issued a disaster declaration for impacted communities in Southeast Texas that suffered damage to homes and businesses. The Governor updated the declaration on January 30 to include additional affected counties. At the Governor's direction, beginning January 23 and throughout the severe weather event, TDEM deployed state emergency response personnel to provide support to local jurisdictions and conduct preliminary damage assessments in coordination with local officials.