Help for Houston tornado victims: Low-interest loans available

Help for Houston tornado victims: Low-interest loans available

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Low-interest loans are now available for residents and businesses that were impacted by the tornado that devastated parts of the Houston area in January.

Those locations include, Brazoria, Chamers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller. 

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the federal government approved the county and state’s request for aid after a request for direct grants was rejected.  

“I know a lot of members in our community are still hurting from the tornado earlier this year,” Hidalgo said. “I hope folks apply for this aid and spread the word. I’m grateful to the Biden Administration for helping us move toward recovery, and we remain in touch with our affected communities and nonprofit partners to offer all the support that we can.”

For residents, only one member of the household can apply for the loan and the resident must be a U.S. citizen. 

Applicants can apply online or in person starting March 21 at the Disaster Loan Outreach Center at the John Phelps Courthouse Annex. The address is 101 S. Richey St., Pasadena, TX.

A Deer Park location will be available next week. 

‘It was terrifying’

The tornado that ripped through southeast Houston on Jan. 24 came as a complete shock to residents in the area. 

Pasadena ISD’s Beverly Hills Intermediate got hit hard. 

Principal Stacey Barber said they heard the siren and had about two minutes to get 900 students to safety, away from exteriors and glass windows. 

It remains very emotional for her.  

“Not that I would ever want to experience it again… but absolutely want to experience it with the team that I had,” Barber said. “You’re just lucky.”

READ: Deer Park, Pasadena ISDs impacted by tornado, storm that devastated communities 

Outside the school, Barber estimated more than 100 staff vehicles were damaged. Row after row of vehicles had windows blown out and debris had shot through or pelted cars.

Just 16 minutes away,  Irma Cantu, her daughter and her grandson rode out the tornado in an SUV. 

“I just looked around there was nowhere that we could go,” Cantu said. “So I just put the car in park, I put my emergency break on.”

READ: ‘It was terrifying’ | Pasadena grandmother rides out tornado in SUV with daughter, grandson

Then things got noisier as the twister got closer.

“I could feel objects hitting my car repeatedly,” Cantu said. “It was terrifying.”

As the tornado got closer, Cantu’s daughter began to pray.

Cantu, however, appeared to stay calm.

“I guess you’re either going to panic or you’re not,” Cantu said. “No matter what happened, I knew that we would be OK, regardless of what did happen.”

How to help Houston tornado victims

If you’re looking for a way to help, experts say the best thing you can do, at this point, is to donate money to disaster relief organizations. 

“Cash is the best contribution since items can be purchased within the affected areas to meet the specific needs of victims,” Deer Park city leaders advised.

The agencies include:

For those who prefer to donate goods or services, check with the relief agencies to find out the immediate needs of people in the affected areas. 

Unsolicited donations such as clothing, while well-intentioned, can create additional problems for communities that aren’t prepared to store or distribute them.  


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