Local Government

FEMA Extends Grace Period for Flood Insurance Renewal Premiums 

FEMA continues to take proactive steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to help serve its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) customers who may be experiencing financial hardships, the agency is extending the grace period to renew flood insurance policies from 30 to 120 days.

This extension will allow additional time for policyholders who may be struggling financially to pay insurance premiums and ensure their policies are not cancelled for nonpayment of premium due to circumstances beyond their control.

If a policy has an expiration date between February 13, 2020 and June 15, 2020, then the NFIP insurer must receive the appropriate renewal premium within 120 days of the expiration date to avoid a lapse in coverage. Likewise, if a policyholder receives an underpayment notice dated between February 13, 2020, and June 15, 2020, then the NFIP insurer must receive the additional premium amount requested within 120 days of the date of the notice.

Policyholders who need additional time to pay their premiums, beyond the 120-day extension, should contact their agent or insurer to inquire about other options the insurer may offer for premium payment.

While COVID-19 is facing us right now, we are helping everyone keep their outlook knowing that hurricane season is just around the corner.

If you have any questions, please contact the Office of External Affairs, Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs Division at (202) 646-3444 or at  FEMA-IGA@fema.dhs.gov.

Covid-19 Community Impact Survey

Local agencies and non-profits are working in the community with churches, community leaders and other organizations to help fill gaps caused by COVID-19.

Please take the Covid-19 Community Impact Survey, send it to your friends and family in the area and share the link: GulfCoastCovidSurvey.org

The information you provide will be used to help local non-profits understand the economic and social needs of households affected by Coronavirus | Covid-19.

TAKE THE SURVEY: GulfCoastCovidSurvey.org

Note: This survey is not for medical help. If you or someone you know is sick, please call your doctor or primary health care provider and your local public health department.

Shelter In Place Order

What is a Stay at Home Order? 

Harris, Galveston, and Fort Bend Counties have issued stay-at-home orders effective at midnight today (March 24) until April 3. It is expected that many more counties in the Greater Houston area will follow suit.

This action orders the following: 

  • Remain at your place of residence unless engaging in essential activities, providing essential governmental functions, or operating essential businesses.
  • All businesses, except essential businesses, should cease all activities at facilities.
  • All public or private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single house or living unit are prohibited
  • Restaurants may only provide take-out, delivery, or drive-through services as allowed by law
  • Religious and worship services may only be provided by video and teleconferencing while limiting in-person staff to ten people or less
  • All elective medical, surgical, and dental procedures are prohibited
  • If someone tests positive for Coronavirus, the whole household must quarantine for 14 days
  • Nursing homes, retirement communities and long-term care facilities are to prohibit non-essential visitors

According to the federal government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency guidelines, there are 16 sectors considered essential that can stay open:

  • Communications
  • Chemical
  • Critical Manufacturing
  • Commercial Facilities
  • Dams
  • Defense Industrial Base
  • Emergency Services
  • Energy
  • Financial
  • Food & Agriculture
  • Government Facilities
  • Healthcare & Public Health
  • Information Technology
  • Nuclear Reactors, Materials and Waste
  • Transportation Systems
  • Water

Under the order, grocery stores will stay open.

Parks will remain open, but no playgrounds, benches, exercise equipment or basketball courts may be used. People who enjoy the outdoor spaces must maintain social distancing.

Restaurants can continue providing takeout and drive-thru service, but must maintain social distancing between customers as well.

Day Care Centers that provide care for employees of essential businesses can remain open.

Religious and worship services are to be streamed online only, but one-on-one counseling between leaders and parishioners is allowed in an effort to help with mental health.

 

A Word from Lina Hidalgo, Harris County Judge

Welcome to ReadyHarris.org.

Harris County faces a wide array of potential threats, from hurricanes and severe flooding to hazardous materials incidents and active shooter situations. Some of these disasters are forecasted with several days notice, but many can — and will — happen without warning.

The good news is that we are not powerless against these challenges.

We know that families that take action to prepare before disaster strikes can avoid or lessen the impact of a catastrophic event. They also often suffer less trauma and recover more quickly. Since day one of my administration, I have prioritized work to fund and expedite critical infrastructure projects designed to reduce the impact of severe weather. That is what our Harris Thrives campaign is doing. We’re creating the conditions for a faster, fairer, and smarter way to protect Harris County from flooding. But being prepared for disasters is a shared responsibility. All of us play a role.

ReadyHarris is designed to promote a culture of preparedness across our region that will be more inclusive of the role individual families, nonprofit groups, and the private sector play before, during, and after an emergency. This site provides user-friendly access to information on how to prepare for all types of disasters, highlights access to real-time alerts regarding ongoing emergencies, and connects you with state-of-the-art tools available to help you plan, recover, and stay safe.

It is a simple fact that when disasters strike, the first responders are often neighbors helping neighbors and non-governmental organizations who provide immediate support. That’s what makes our communities strong. Our job is to make sure we are all connected and sharing the latest information we need to be ready. We hope you will join us in taking action to prepare and we look forward to continuing to update this resource with even more features and content as we adapt to the reality of more frequent and severe disasters.

Lina Hidalgo
Harris County Judge

SBA Disaster Assistance Loans

SBA To Provide Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Up to $2 Million in Disaster Assistance Loans

WASHINGTON – SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza issued the following statement today in response to the President’s address to the nation:

“The President took bold, decisive action to make our 30 million small businesses more resilient to Coronavirus-related economic disruptions. Small businesses are vital economic engines in every community and state, and they have helped make our economy the strongest in the world. Our Agency will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses that have been severely impacted by the situation. Additionally, the SBA continues to assist small businesses with counseling and navigating their own preparedness plans through our network of 68 District Offices and numerous Resource Partners located around the country. The SBA will continue to provide every small business with the most effective and customer-focused response possible during these times of uncertainty.”

Process for Accessing SBA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Lending

• The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low- interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.

• Any such Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance declaration issued by the SBA makes loans available to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations in designated areas of a state or territory to help alleviate economic injury caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

• SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with the state’s or territory’s Governor
to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance.
Once a declaration is made for designated areas within a state, the information on the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance will be made available to all affected communities.

• SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

• These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.

• SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.

• SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.

• For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

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About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.