E-News from the Office of Senator Van de Putte
I am writing to you regarding our state recovery plans in the wake of Hurricane Ike. Ike made landfall in Southeast Texas on September 13th, as a fierce category 2 hurricane. Currently seven fatalities in Texas have resulted, and the mounting physical devastation is expected to exceed $15 billion. Ike is also the largest utility outage event in Texas' history, with close to 4 million affected.
As of Sunday morning, 254 shelters were open throughout Texas to house more than 37,000 evacuees; and FEMA is also setting up points of distribution throughout the Houston area to be staffed by Texas Military Forces. Of course, Texas' main priority remains the unprecedented search and rescue, with nearly 3,000 storm victims already rescued. We are also seeking to restore utility services as soon as possible, as an estimated 2.4 million customers are still without electric power (however this could take several weeks).
Information from the Texas Comptroller
To assist Texans whose homes and businesses were damaged by Hurricane Ike, the Texas Comptroller's office created a one-stop web page for hurricane-related tax information. Following a disaster declaration from the Governor, the law provides tax exemptions for certain cleanup and recovery services and hotel stays in some cases.
Likely businesses damaged by Hurricane Ike may postpone paying state taxes, if necessary, while they clean up wind and flood damage. Upon request, taxpayers may be granted an extension of up to 90 days to file state tax returns due in September and October.
This information page can be found at: www.window.state.tx.us/disaster
If you have questions about paying tax on storm recovery services, you can also call: (800) 252-5555.
Information from the Attorney General
Texas consumers are urged to report price gouging on necessities, including groceries, clothing, medical supplies, lodging, repair work and fuel during and after the hurricane. Complaints can be made online at: www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or www.oag.state.tx.us
The Office of the Attorney General has extended hours for its consumer complaint hot line, 800-252-8011. Consumers can call from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Texas Department of Insurance toll-free Consumer Help Line, 800-252-3439, also has extended hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. A Hurricane Ike Consumer Resource Page is available on the agency’s Web site at: www.tdi.state.tx.us/consumer/storms/cpmhurrike.html
What You Can Do to Help
- The San Antonio Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (SAVOAD) is seeking volunteers. Members of the community wishing to help, please contact (210) 224-5365.
- Medical volunteers are also needed. Those able to assist are asked to contact the Medical Volunteer Coordination Center at (210) 233-5910.
- OneStar Foundation: Texas Center for Social Impact has completed preparations to respond to the influx of donations expected from Hurricane Ike’s aftermath. OneStar is responding to Hurricane Ike by serving as the State of Texas’ donations and volunteer portal under the state emergency plan. For more information, visit: www.onestarfoundation.org
Texas' primary focus is to ensure the welfare of our residents. Additionally, we will be monitoring the financial implications of this extraordinary emergency situation. My heart goes out to all those affected by this tragedy.
Continued updates will be posted at the sites below:
Office of the Governor Hurricane site: www.governor.state.tx.us/hurricane
The City of Houston – Hurricane site: www.houstontx.gov
HOW TO CONTACT SENATOR VAN DE PUTTE
700 N. St. Mary's St. #1725
San Antonio, Texas 78205
(210) 733-6605 - fax