Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

 

 

3100 State Agencies

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

 

3110 Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Overview

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

 

HHSC is assigned the following responsibilities under the State of Texas Emergency Management Plan:

  • Coordinate with other State Emergency Management Council (SEMC) members in developing a program and state plan for the prevention of and reaction to natural disasters, man-made disasters, nuclear disasters or crisis relocation.
  • Provide, in coordination with other council members, services to evacuees from disaster areas. Services are provided in cooperation with recognized volunteer organizations and include family welfare inquiries, care, shelter, feeding and financial assistance as authorized by state and federal statutes.
  • Function as a liaison between the council and the federal Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Texas Department of Agriculture.
  • Prepare and maintain Annex V of the State of Texas Emergency Management Plan.

In the state plan, HHSC is the primary agency responsible for the Food and Water Emergency Support Function (ESF). HHSC is responsible for providing supplemental assistance to local governments by identifying and obtaining good water and ice resources for distribution to areas affected by a disaster.

Within HHSC, the Emergency Services Program of the office of Business and Regional Services is responsible for coordinating these efforts.

The Texas Disaster Act of 1975 delegated administration of the Individual and Family Grant Program (IFGP) to HHSC. The IFGP has been eliminated and replaced with the Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program (IHP). The IHP was established by an October 2000 congressional amendment to the Stafford Act. The Other Needs Assistance (ONA) provision of the IHP is administered by the state.

 

Other Needs Assistance (ONA) Program

After the president declares a major disaster, several state and federal assistance programs may be available to victims in the designated disaster area. One of these state and federal assistance programs is the ONA program, through which the governor may request that federal funds be made available to the state. The ONA program provides funds to individuals and families who are unable to meet necessary expenses or serious needs as a result of a major disaster.

These grants enable the individuals or families to meet necessary expenses or serious needs for which other governmental assistance is either unavailable or inadequate. However, the grants are not intended to repay individuals or families for all disaster losses or to allow purchase of items or services that are nonessential, luxury or decorative. ONA staff may also award grants for emergency needs when victims face an unreasonable delay in receiving assistance from other means. The individual must repay the grant when he receives other assistance that duplicates the grant awarded by the ONA.

Eligible Categories — Eligible serious need and necessary expense categories are as follows:

  • Personal property
  • Transportation
  • Medical and dental
  • Funeral
  • Moving and storage
  • Child care
  • Flood insurance
  • Other

Grant Amounts — The maximum grant amount is adjusted annually in October, at the beginning of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA's) fiscal year, to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. The total grant amount must not exceed the maximum amount as provided by federal law for the fiscal year the disaster is declared. The total federal grant is 100 percent of Housing Assistance and 75 percent of Other Needs Assistance. Housing Assistance is funded and administered by FEMA. ONA is administered by the state. The federal government contributes 75 percent of ONA funds only on condition that the state contributes the remaining 25 percent. The federal contribution includes up to 5 percent of the federal share of grants for administrative purposes in the ONA provision of the IHP.

Grant Coordinating Officer (GCO) — In this handbook, the grant coordinating officer (GCO) is assigned management responsibility for the ONA provision of the IHP. Federal regulations define the GCO as the state official assigned management responsibility for the ONA program.

 

3120 Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM)

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), formerly known as the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management (GDEM), is the entity designated by the Governor to administer and supervise disaster recovery operations in Texas. TDEM is a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). The director of the division serves as chairperson of the Governor's Disaster Emergency Management Council.

TDEM staff supervises disaster response and recovery operations supplied by several major state agencies. These state agencies operate within or adjacent to the disaster area. Staff assist victims in leaving or returning to their homes, and they also attempt to prevent looting. If disasters are severe enough, local peace officers and the National Guard or military forces assist staff in these activities. Major state agencies that provide evacuation and protective services are the National Guard (operating under orders from the Governor), Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Texas Disaster Act of 1975

The Texas Disaster Act of 1975 (H.B. 2032, 64th Legislature and amendments) provides that preparation for a disaster be structured around organized government. The Governor is responsible for ensuring that the state and its people are protected from disaster-caused dangers. The Governor appoints the director of DPS as director of TDEM. The director serves as the Governor's designated agent in the administration and supervision of the provisions of the Texas Disaster Act of 1975. The director of TDEM is the designated chairperson of the Governor's Disaster Emergency Management Council as established by the Texas Disaster Act of 1975. The director then appoints the state coordinating officer.

State Coordinating Officer (SCO)

The state coordinating officer (SCO) coordinates and allocates state resources related to the disaster recovery effort. The SCO works with the federal coordinating officer (FCO) to establish and operate disaster recovery centers (see Item 3211, Federal Emergency Management Agency). The purpose of disaster recovery centers (DRCs) is to provide information to disaster victims about their application for assistance. After the President declares a major disaster or emergency, the state coordinating officer prepares necessary documents for recovery and rehabilitation on behalf of the Governor and the state. He also certifies applications for public assistance. The state coordinating officer is responsible for coordinating with FEMA to publicize the availability of the IHP to potential applicants. He reports on the operation of the ONA provision of the IHP to TDEM, and is responsible for ensuring that both state and federal audits are carried out.

Every November, the HHSC Emergency Services Program (ESP) leader, FEMA's Region VI Disaster Response and Recovery Division director, and the SCO review the state administrative plan for the ONA provision of IHP. This review is for compliance with state and federal laws and regulations and other FEMA guidelines. As the authorized representative of the director of TDEM, the SCO uses powers granted the Governor by the Texas Disaster Act of 1975.

State Operations Center (SOC)

The State Operations Center (SOC) is located at the DPS headquarters in Austin. The center houses TDEM's administrative offices and serves as the nucleus of a communications network. The SOC is located 30 feet underground and can also serve as a secure location from which state government can operate during a natural or man-made catastrophe.

Representatives selected from the state agencies participating in the Governor's Disaster Emergency Management Council staff the state operations center. The center operates 24 hours a day if a disaster threatens the people or property of the state. ESP staff train HHSC volunteer staff. HHSC volunteer staff will serve at the state operations center in the event that ESP staff is unavailable. The list of volunteers is updated annually. TDEM staff also operate local emergency operations centers. Regional disaster assistance coordinators act as liaisons with local emergency operations center directors.

Regions are notified of the HHSC telephone number at the SOC when the center is opened. People attempting to send information to or receive information from the SOC contact the HHSC representative in the center. If telephones are not working, an HHSC employee with proper identification may send a brief message to the HHSC representative in the SOC through any DPS car radio.

 

3130 Texas Department of Insurance (TDI)

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has staff available to victims at disaster recovery centers. Staff assists victims in interpreting their insurance coverage. Staff provides information about filing insurance loss claims and offer advice on future insurance.

 

3140 Texas Workforce Commission (TWC)

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has staff available to victims at disaster recovery centers. Staff accepts applications for unemployment insurance for victims whose jobs were adversely affected by disasters. If possible, staff also assists in placing victims in new jobs.

 

3150 Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) staff provides floodplain information to disaster assistance programs. Some programs use the information to determine who is required to purchase and maintain flood insurance as a condition of receiving assistance.

 

3200 Federal Agencies

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

 

 

3210 Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is directly in charge of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

 

3211 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for coordinating federal response to disasters. When the President declares a major disaster, FEMA appoints a federal coordinating officer (FCO) for the disaster area. The FCO serves as chairperson for a council of representatives from other federal, state, local and volunteer agencies that responds to the needs of disaster victims.

Federal and state coordinating officers work together to provide coordinated services to victims. The federal and state coordinating officers manage the operation of disaster recovery centers. The purpose of disaster recovery centers (DRCs) is to provide information to disaster victims about their application for assistance. Their responsibilities include the following:

  • Determining the number and location of the centers, if any.
  • Opening and closing centers, or consolidating centers when services are no longer needed in all locations.
  • Ensuring that centers are adequately staffed.
  • Releasing announcements to the media about recovery operations, center locations and services, and hours of operation.

National Processing Service Center (NPSC)

FEMA's National Processing Service Centers (NPSC), located in Denton, Texas; Hyattsville, Maryland; and Mt. Weather, Virginia, administer inspection services and provide central database maintenance and operations for disaster assistance applications. Each disaster declaration is assigned to a NPSC for processing. NPSC transmits application and inspection information to the ONA Program Office. In addition, NPSC's database includes information on assistance provided to an applicant from all disaster recovery programs. ONA workers use this information to avoid duplication of benefits.

National Teleregistration Center (NTC)

FEMA's National Teleregistration Center (NTC), located in Denton, Texas, takes applications for assistance from disaster victims over a toll-free telephone line. In addition, applications taken at Disaster Recovery Centers are forwarded to NTC for inclusion in the database. NTC transmits application information to the NPSC for further processing.

Housing Assistance Program (HA)

FEMA's Housing Assistance (HA) Program is responsible for accepting applications from victims who need temporary assistance in meeting housing needs. Housing Assistance is a provision of the Individuals and Households Program (IHP). Housing Assistance provides disaster-related assistance for applicants displaced from their pre-disaster primary residences and/or whose pre-disaster residences are rendered uninhabitable. Assistance is only provided if the applicant is uninsured or under-insured.

Types of housing assistance provided:

  • Temporary housing
  • Financial
  • Lodging expenses
  • Rental
  • Repairs
  • Replacement
  • Permanent housing construction

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

FEMA's NFIP provides flood insurance to people living in communities with flood hazard areas. The rates are made affordable through a federal subsidy. In return, communities must adopt and administer local floodplain management measures to help protect lives and prevent property from future flooding. In disaster recovery centers, NFIP representatives are available to assist victims in filing claims through their flood insurance policies.

 

3220 Small Business Administration (SBA)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

In addition to loaning funds to small businesses, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is authorized to loan up to $200,000 to victims for permanent repair of housing and/or for up to $40,000 for replacement of personal property. SBA loans funds to victims if they can show the ability to repay it. These funds are loaned at an interest rate substantially below the rate for regular lending agencies. Victims must use these proceeds to restore real property and household goods to pre-disaster conditions or as close to pre-disaster conditions as possible. Victims may not use SBA loans to upgrade property. SBA's disaster loan program is designed to cover losses for which victims have not received insurance recoveries or other assistance.

SBA coordinates with FEMA to enable disaster victims to apply for assistance. In each disaster declaration, SBA provides income eligibility criteria for FEMA application takers to use when completing the application. Victims whose incomes are inadequate or who cannot qualify for a loan are given an "instant decline" to show that they did apply to SBA and did not qualify for a loan. These applicants are referred to the ONA for grant consideration. Victims who meet the minimum income criteria are sent an SBA application packet to complete and are advised how to obtain assistance in completing the application. Once the application is received by SBA, a credit check is conducted. Next, SBA inspectors verify the extent of the damage and estimate the cost of repairing the property. Loan representatives then notify both the victims and FEMA staff of the amount of the loan if victims are determined eligible or, if they are denied, the reason for loan denial. Those victims denied for financial reasons are referred to the ONA provision of the IHP.

 

3230 Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides consultants in disaster recovery centers to inform victims about procedures for claiming losses on their income tax returns. Immediate adjustments may be made on returns for the previous year in order to obtain a refund, or the losses may be claimed on the current year's tax return.

 

3300 Volunteer Agencies

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

 

3310 American Red Cross (ARC)

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

The American Red Cross (ARC) establishes shelters to house victims during and after disasters. Shelters may be open for several days or until victims can return to their homes or arrange for more appropriate facilities. ARC staff also feed, provide cots and blankets, and attempt to meet the immediate needs of victims.

The ARC also provides the following:

  • Counseling
  • Reuniting families
  • Authorizing payments for home repairs
  • Providing first aid supplies
  • Replacing eyeglasses
  • Meeting emergency health needs
  • Issuing vouchers

Note: These vouchers are used to purchase food, clothing, personal items, transportation, cleaning supplies and housing up to 30 days, utility deposits and limited amounts of emergency furniture or appliances.

ARC staff provide assistance during the emergency period in disaster recovery centers and for several months after the disaster, if necessary.

Applicants who receive maximum grants and have remaining unmet needs are referred to the ARC for additional assistance.

 

3320 Other Volunteer Agencies

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

Churches and service organizations provide other sources of support to victims. Staff of organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Mennonites may provide emergency supplies of food and clothing or assist in repairing damaged homes. Various church and service groups may be organized in a disaster area under a governing body, such as Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAID). These groups may provide various forms of aid, including transportation to governmental disaster program offices. Staff may also help victims apply for assistance from other disaster assistance programs and obtain the requested documents to support applications.