Following a disaster, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission coordinates efforts to provide information and help to Texans. During a disaster this page will provide information on office openings, benefits and information about other groups offering aid. Read below for the types of help provided in past disasters.
Event Specific Assistance Information
Crisis Counseling – Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
While many are concerned with the coronavirus specifically, difficult feelings can also emerge due to uncertainty about financial and employment circumstances; stressors like grief and loss, decision-making and school and child care closures; and adjusting to what some are referring to as the “new normal.”
Where Can I Get Help?
In a statewide response to COVID-19, multiple local mental health authorities are providing crisis counseling services to all persons seeking mental health support and referral services. All persons seeking services may also call the statewide COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line (PDF), 833-986-1919, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or contact their local mental health authority for assistance.
- Tips for the Public: Managing Your Stress (PDF)
- Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health — Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation During an Infectious Disease Outbreak (PDF)
- Intimate Partner Violence and Child Abuse Considerations During COVID-19 (PDF)
- Tips for Survivors of a Disaster or Traumatic Event (PDF)
- Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks (PDF)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Resources for Managing Stress
Hurricane Laura Assistance
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration that provides assistance for Texans affected by Hurricane Laura. SNAP customers in the counties with a disaster declaration might be able to get replacement benefits for food lost or destroyed because of Hurricane Laura. (If you are a current SNAP recipient, this includes your regular SNAP allotment and SNAP supplement because of the pandemic. It does not include P-EBT benefits.)
You do not need to go to an HHSC local office for replacement benefits.
Counties Part of the Disaster Declaration:
Anderson, Angelina, Aransas, Bexar, Bowie, Brazoria, Calhoun, Cameron, Camp, Cass, Chambers, Cherokee, Dallas, Ellis, Fort Bend, Franklin, Galveston, Gregg, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Harrison, Houston, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Liberty, Leon, Madison, Marion, Matagorda, Montgomery, Morris, Nacogdoches, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Panola, Polk, Red River, Refugio, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Shelby, Smith, Tarrant, Titus, Travis, Trinity, Tyler, Upshur, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Wharton, Willacy and Wood
Food and Shelter: You can call 2-1-1 and select Option 1 to find resources in your area.
Automatic Replacement Benefits: SNAP customers in Hardin, Jefferson, Newton, Orange, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby and Tyler counties will automatically receive replacement benefits for food lost or destroyed due to Hurricane Laura. SNAP recipients in these counties do not need to take any action to receive the replacement of SNAP benefits. A percentage of the regular allotment of benefits will be automatically placed on their Lone Star cards.
Replacement Benefits: SNAP customers in the counties that were a part of Gov. Abbott’s disaster declaration can request a benefit replacement for food lost or destroyed because of Hurricane Laura.
To request a benefit replacement, customers should call 2-1-1 and after selecting a language choose Option 2. The agent can assist the customer with their request over the phone.
Customers can also complete the required form below:
The form needs to be printed, completed and mailed to Texas Health and Human Services Commission, PO Box 149027, Austin, TX 78714-9027, or faxed to 877-447-2839.
You have until September 30 to request benefit replacement.
General Disaster Assistance Information
When a disaster strikes, HHSC will work with the federal government to make sure services such as SNAP food benefits remain available to our clients. In addition to administering Disaster SNAP, you might be able to get benefits early, have benefits replaced, buy hot foods with your Lone Star Card or have your benefits renewed automatically. In the event of an emergency lost Lone Star Cards can be replaced in a local office.
WIC can play an important role in helping families impacted by disasters get back on their feet. WIC benefits will continue to be provided during a disaster.
HHSC realizes a disaster can force families out of their homes, making it difficult to find health care. If a disaster strikes, HHSC and medical plans may work to:
- Make sure you can see an out-of-network provider for emergency and non-emergency services if you evacuate.
- Help you find a new doctor if you can't see your old doctor.
- Make sure your service authorizations can be extended if the disaster affects your ability to get a new service authorization.
- Reschedule your fair hearing if you miss the hearing because of the disaster.
- Waive your CHIP co-payments for a period of time.
When a disaster strikes, you can get information from your medical plan or on this page about temporary adjustments to processes and policies HHSC implements as a result of a disaster.
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) oversees and gives this type of help. It includes:
- Housing for a limited time
- Home repair and building
- Another home (replacement)
Who is it for?
Home owners and renters whose property has been damaged or destroyed in a federally declared disaster.
If a person living in the home isn’t a spouse or dependent, they must apply for help on their own. To find out if someone is a dependent, go to www.irs.gov.
People visiting or passing through when the disaster happened also might be able to get help if they had damages.
FEMA Housing Assistance
Other Needs Assistance
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission works with FEMA in giving this type of help. It helps pay for disaster-related costs such as:
- Furniture and appliances
- Vehicle repair and replacement
- Moving and storage
- Medical and dental needs
- Funeral needs
- Child care
To get Other Needs Assistance these rules must be met:
- The county where you live must be declared a federal disaster area.
- You must apply for disaster help and be approved by FEMA.
- If you need help paying for furniture, appliances or damaged vehicles, you may first need to apply for a Small Business Administration(SBA) loan .This could be required even if you don’t own a business. Contact the SBA for more information regarding this.
- If you have insurance (home, health, flood, or car), you need to file a claim with your insurance company. Keep insurance records of the money they give you for losses.
- You must first use all insurance benefits and any other help you can get from federal, state, and local agencies (for example, insurance settlements, disaster loans, and help from the Red Cross and Salvation Army).
- You can’t get Other Needs Assistance if you turn down other help.
- You must be a U.S. citizen. Certain legal immigrants also might be able to get help. If only your child is a U.S. citizen or a legal immigrant who meets certain rules, you can apply for help on your child’s behalf.
Texas HHSC Other Needs Assistance
Phone: 1-800-582-5233 (toll-free)
HHSC Disaster Assistance MC Y-950
P.O. Box 149030
Austin, TX 78714
U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Disaster Assistance
State Hospitals and State Supported Living Centers
Each state supported living center and state hospital has extensive evacuation plans and designated shelter sites in case we need to move our residents. Should an evacuation become necessary, we will contact the family as soon as possible.
We will update this site during an evacuation to identify the evacuating facility as well as the shelter site location. If you can't reach the facility through the social worker or switchboard during an emergency, call the HSCS Emergency Operations Center 512-206-5435.