In the aftermath of the high winds that raked parts of Hopkins County and Sulphur Springs last Monday and abnormally high rainfall amounts this spring, County Judge Robert Newsom declared Monday that the county is in a state of disaster.
“The reason we needed to file the disaster declaration is it just was not last Monday, but if we wanted to look at it, the whole spring we have had this year with an over abundance of rain, ice, snow, tornadoes and high winds which came in last week,” Newsom said. “We've had quite a bit of destruction, some to private property, but a whole lot to public property this year — which is somewhat unusual.”
The scope of the disaster declaration not only covers Hopkins County but also Sulphur Springs, Como and Cumby and opens the door for aid from both the state and federal governments.
“That's the reason we filed,” he said. “The declaration is first. The next thing I will do this week is file a request for assistance that will go through the Texas program and we will be able to apply for both state and federal funds.”
The application, Newsom said, would not only be for assistance to the county and municipal governments but would be open to private applications as well.
“We’re doing this because of the devastation we've had, not only to our roads — we've lost one bridge I know of,” the judge said. “If you've driven by the city park, there are tremendous expenses in cleaning up the park, airport and hospital. We have roads that were under water, as the citizens can tell you. In the city and county our roads are in the worst condition I ever remember them being in. It's not through the fault of the commissioners or the city — it's the fault of the rains, the snows and sleet that we've experienced this year.”
Newsom said there may be some loan programs that would be open to individuals.
“I've looked at that and right now, we don't qualify,” he said. “We don't have a high enough threshold to get some private [assistance] in here.”
“Now, as to the public, a lot of [damage] was not covered by insurance,” Newsom continued. “Our threshold is a little over $125,000 for the entire county. I've already talked to one commissioner who said 'In my precinct alone, I'm going to have more than that,' so, we are going to reach the threshold. I'm working with[Sulphur Springs City Manager] Marc Maxwell and the city as well as with the other two cities, Como and Cumby, and all of our precincts, so we're going to cover the entire county.
”We believe we will easily exceed the threshold,” he said. “We hope we will be able to get some assistance in here because our residents have been overwhelmed by the weather and we have just so many resources to draw from.”
Newsom said the declaration activates the county's Emergency Management Plan and will remain in effect for seven days unless continued by the commissioners court.
The declaration, along with damage assessments, will be forwarded to the state's emergency division this week.