Rep. Shawn Thierry (D-Houston) posted pictures and video on Twitter of serious water damage to her home caused by pipes that had burst when power was restored after having been off for four days.
“WARNING and tip that I wish I had known,” Thierry wrote. “If your power is out, & water pressure is already low, just turn off your main water valve and drain the pipes. It can prevent the pipes from bursting when they begin to thaw.”
The images and videos depict several rooms of Thierry’s house that were flooded and many of her belongings that had been destroyed.
The state representative said that her family is safe, but they will need to “relocate for months.”
As many people will likely find themselves in a situation similar to Thierry’s, Gov. Greg Abbott warned the public in a press conference to turn off the water flow to their homes if they have broken pipes to avoid flooding when water is restored.
Additionally, the governor encouraged Texans to begin exploring their options to pay for the destruction that the winter storm and accompanying power outages have left behind.
“We also urge all homeowners to, as quickly as possible, like as in beginning now if you haven’t already done so, begin to work with a plumber, get plumbers lined up, and work with your insurance company in advance,” Abbott said. “If you’re a homeowner you should have homeowners insurance that would address this. Talk to your agent today, tonight, tomorrow, immediately.”
He also encouraged renters to work with their landlords and renters’ insurance companies.
In view of the fact that President Biden on Saturday granted Texas a federal disaster declaration, Abbott mentioned that some may be eligible for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and should keep a record of repair expenses, including receipts.
“If you have damage from these storms, or have been severely impacted, check your insurance policies or call your local agent for assistance you may be eligible to receive,” FEMA advised in a press statement on Thursday.
Abbott said that he has ordered a waiver that will permit plumbers to work even if their licenses have expired in the past two years due to unmet continuing education requirements.
The governor also said insurance adjusters and plumbers from outside the state will be eligible for temporary licenses to help facilitate the titanic number of claims that are likely to be filed and the extensive repairs that will be needed.
The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) is advising the public to ask their insurance companies about “advance payments” for immediate assistance and to keep a detailed record of their interactions with their insurance providers.
On its frequently asked questions page, TDI explains that it is better not to make lasting repairs until an insurance adjuster has examined the property.
“Generally, you should make temporary repairs if necessary to protect your property from more damage,” the agency says.
“Do not make permanent repairs until an adjuster has inspected the damage. Your policy covers the cost of necessary temporary repairs, so save your receipts for materials and labor. You should take pictures of the damage before making temporary repairs.”