HOUSTON — Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration Thursday for communities in Southeast Texas impacted by severe storms.
The National Weather Service confirmed an EF2 and an EF3 tornado hit parts of the Houston area. The tornadoes caused massive damage to homes, vehicles, and businesses.
Editor's note: The main video in this story is from an earlier report.
The governor’s office said in a news release that the disaster declaration includes Harris and Orange counties and will “further support the State of Texas' recovery efforts in response to extensive damage sustained due to tornadic activity in Pasadena, Deer Park, and neighboring Southeast Texas communities.” More counties may be added to the declaration as damage is assessed, the release said.
“The State of Texas is ready to assist Texans and businesses impacted by tornados in Southeast Texas communities,” Abbott said. "This disaster declaration will swiftly provide all necessary resources to help Texans navigate the recovery process during this difficult time. Texans impacted by severe weather are encouraged to self-report sustained damages to their homes or businesses through the iSTAT survey. Join Cecilia and me in praying for Texans and communities affected by these tornados as they begin to recover."
Texas Division of Emergency Management sent state emergency response personnel on Wednesday to the hard-hit areas to assess the damage. Abbott also directed TDEM to prepare response resources ahead of the severe weather threats and engage state assets in support of local officials across Texas.
TDEM requested that FEMA provide personnel to participate in joint preliminary damage assessments to certify the damage. This will help determine whether Texas meets federal requirements for disaster assistance.
Abbott, on Wednesday, urged all impacted Texans to complete TDEM’s iSTAT self-reporting damage survey to help emergency management officials understand the damages that occurred during Tuesday’s tornados to help expedite federal disaster assistance. The survey, available in English and Spanish, can be found at damage.tdem.texas.gov. The governor’s office says reporting damage to TDEM is voluntary and those affected should still report damage to their insurance agency. Reporting to TDEM also does not guarantee disaster relief assistance.