The NCSL Blog


By Lucia Bragg

President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration last week for the entire state of Texas following widespread power outages and cascading system failures from a severe winter storm that continues to overwhelm the area in record low temperatures.

People waited in line for more than an hour in freezing rain to fill propane tanks Feb. 17 in Houston. Credit: David J. Phillip, AP.The declaration approves funding at 75% federal, 25% state cost share for Public Assistance, Category B Emergency Protective Measures authorized under Title V of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. In addition, the declaration approves Individual Assistance as well as for certain counties. Funding is provided directly to states, as well as certain private nonprofit organizations, and can be used for:

Individual Assistance

  • Grants for temporary housing and home repairs.
  • Low-cost loans to cover uninsured losses.

Public Assistance

  • Use or lease of temporary generators for facilities that provide essential community services.
  • Dissemination of information to the public to provide warnings and guidance about health and safety hazards using various strategies, such as flyers, public service announcements, or newspaper campaigns.
  • Snow-related activities, including snow removal, snow dumps, de-icing, salting, and sanding of roads and other eligible facilities.
  • Supplies and commodities.
  • Medical care and transportation.
  • Evacuation and sheltering.
  • Childcare.
  • Search and rescue.

This declaration will help mobilize needed support for Texans impacted by rolling blackouts, burst pipes, and storm-induced damage to homes. The impacts highlight the role of energy grid back-up capacity, the benefit of resilience and grid-hardening measures, and the increasing intensity and unpredictability of extreme weather. Residents can start applying for assistance by registering online at the Disaster Assistance website.

For more information on state legislative action in natural disasters is provided below.

Lucia Bragg is a senior policy specialist in NCSL's State-Federal Relations Program.

Email Lucia.



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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.