Dallas Tornado Damage May Fall Short of FEMA Aid

Steven Pickering
December 10, 2019 - 5:49 pm
tornado damage dallas

Austin York

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DALLAS (KRLD) - The City of Dallas has gotten some feedback from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as the city seeks federal funds to help recover from the tornado that touched down on October 20th. The storm damaged several city facilities including streets, traffic signals and city-owned buildings.

"We had submitted $43 million in costs for consideration, and FEMA validated $26 million of that," Dallas Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz told members of the City Council on Tuesday. Even adding in damage to city-owned facilities in Richardson and Garland, Vaz said, the region came up about $5.5 million short of the threshold needed to qualify for FEMA aid.

The initial estimate of damage to city-owned facilities included damage to street lights and traffic signals at school crossings. "A majority...if not all...of the streetlights belonged to ONCOR, and they are not eligible for reimbursements," Vaz said. "A lot of the school flashers and stop signs that we assumed were damaged heavily and needed complete replacement, it ended up that that's not the case. A lot of them are able to be fixed at relatively low cost."

Council Member encouraged Vaz to continue his efforts to secure a Presidential disaster declaration. "This is an enormous part of the city's tax base, and we're going to feel it for a long time," said Council Member Jennifer Staubach Gates. "It's the right thing to do to help everybody rebuild. It's the right thing for us to do as a city to help expedite the process."

FEMA does have the ability to make an exception to its normal guidelines, Vaz said, so the City of Dallas could still receive some federal financial aid. The deadline for the city to submit more information to FEMA is set for December 20th, but the City has asked the State of Texas to submit a request to extend that deadline by 30 days. City officials will coordinate with the Dallas ISD and several private schools in the storm zone to tabulate the losses from the tornado.