By JOHN KANELIS / firstname.lastname@example.org
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wanted all 254 of Texas’s counties to qualify for “major disaster” relief from the U.S. government.
President Biden granted that status to 77 of them, or a just a bit less than one-third of what Abbott had sought in the wake of the terrible Texas snow and ice storm.
I saw the list of all the counties and, as a Collin County resident, I was heartened to see my county on the list of declared places, along with Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties. Others in our immediate area received the designation. So did other major counties, such as Bexar, Travis, Harris and their immediate surrounding jurisdictions.
One of the regions where I once lived, the Golden Triangle, also got the disaster declaration, but the Texas Panhandle did not get that designation.
I was struck, though, by the absence of Hunt County from the list of counties to receive federal aid under the designation. Commerce’s water supply system went kaput. It came back, but the city has been on a boil-water advisory for several days; the advisory is expected to last a while longer.
What does it take, therefore, for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to declare a county a “major disaster” when that county is suffering through, um, a major disaster?
I cannot really know what goes into the decision-making processes within FEMA. I just am an observer of how various jurisdictions within my particular orbit are dealing with the mess that the storm has left behind. From my perch in Collin County, it looks for all the world like our neighbors to our east — in Hunt County — are going through precisely the same tragedy that Mother Nature brought to my neighbors and my family members.
Abbott called the disaster declaration from President Biden a “good first step” in helping our state recover. Perhaps a “good next step” would be to expand the list of counties that receive this disaster declaration.