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Local Disaster Declaration Issued For Hopkins County Due To Winter Weather

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Disaster Summary Paperwork Has Been Submitted Requesting Consideration To Be Added To President’s List Of Counties Eligible To Apply For Additional Individual Assistance For Weather-Related Damages

Hopkins County Commissioners Court Monday morning issued a local disaster declaration for Hopkins County due to the impact last week’s winter weather had not only on rural county residents and businesses but also residents of Sulphur Springs, Tira, Como and Cumby.

This step could potentially increase Hopkins County’s potential eligibility to receive weather-related disaster assistance from the state and federal governments. The disaster began on Feb. 11, resulted in widespread continuing damages and loss of property or imminent threat of those things due to heavy prolong snow fall and freezing temperatures, utility outages, excessive flooding, deterioration of roads, Hopkins County Judge Robert Newsom cited from the local disaster declaration.

The judge determined that “extraordinary measures must be taken to alleviate the hardship of people and protect, including but not limited to rehabilitation of property, private and governmental, of the impact” from the winter weather which included excessive prolonged freezing temperatures, heavy snow and flooding, resulting water damages, deterioration of roads, widespread and severe damage and loss of property to the county citizens including water supplies, electrical grids, county and citizen infrastructure, bridges culverts.

“Therefore, we authorize the public resources of Hopkins County and cities of this county to use all available resources to cope with this disaster. Now, therefore let it be proclaimed by the Commissioners Court of Hopkins County that a local disaster state of disaster is declared for Hopkins County, that the county’s emergency management plan has been implemented, that the state of disaster shall continue indefinitely by consent of the Commissioners Court of Hopkins County. The disaster declaration shall take effect immediately from issuance,” Newsom said Monday.

Beth Wisenbaker, local grants coordinator, noted that while Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a disaster for all 254 counties in Texas due to the weather and President Joe Biden declared Texas a Federal Disaster Area, but only designated individual help for 77 counties; Hopkins County is not one of the 77 counties named.

Wisenbaker said she and Hopkins County Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Endsley have already begun the process over the weekend and have filed a disaster summary, which hopefully will allow Hopkins County to be added to the list of Texas counties approved by the president, which would make more assistance available to individuals, who could apply on for assistance for damages not covered by insurance.

“I’ve got all our paperwork. I’ve made the contacts. I just need something back from the state that says the president has added us to that 70-plus. Nobody seems to think that’s going to be a problem. We’ll see. It’s FEMA,” Wisenbaker said. “We appreciate everything they do. It’s help we wouldn’t normally have. If we get declared that, we will let the media, Facebook or the judge will contact whoever he needs to contact to let everybody know they can start the process. Other than that, it’s FEMA, it’s paperwork and it just takes a while, but we’re rolling through it.”

She extended thanks to the Commissioners and Endsley for “saving the courthouse” during the extremely frigid weather last week.

“The fire suppression system, they thought to drain it. They also had an individual staying up here and babysitting throughout so we didn’t have to worry about it losing it’s heat and pipes freezing. Because this is close to my heart, I know y’all have done lots of wonderful things that save people’s lives, but this was awesome and I thank you for it,” Wisenbaker said.

Author: Faith Huffman

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