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Dallas ISD Insurer To Provide FEMA Key Information About Tornado Losses

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Dallas ISD says its insurance company will soon provide more specific numbers about how much it will reimburse the district for it's three schools hit hard by last October's EF-3 tornado.

The school district's Chief of Financial Services, Dwayne Thompson, said the insurance company would provide that information by Friday, but a district spokeswoman said it didn't receive an update late Friday afternoon and that the district doesn't know when it will.

FEMA requested the information during a meeting Monday with the school district's consultants so it can determine how much federal disaster aid to provide the Dallas area.

More than three months after the tornado, Dallas area leaders are still waiting for the federal disaster declaration.

Without it, local property taxpayers face tens of millions of dollars in losses to public infrastructure.

Thompson said its insurer knows timing is important. "Our insurance company knows full well the declaration hinges on the allowable cost that we may be able to justify to FEMA. Our insurance company knows that but they also have a set of guidelines they have to go through to make sure they're meeting their company standards."

The insurance company declared Cary Middle School a total loss, but that's not the case for the other two schools, Walnut Hill Elementary and Thomas Jefferson High.

Last week, the school board voted to build a brand new, combined elementary and middle school, while renovating the high school at a total cost of nearly $132 million.

Thompson said the insurance company will pay at least $65 million to reimburse the district, leaving the school district to pay the difference.

But he said the insurance company may reimburse the district more than that.

Federal disaster assistance would help the district.

Thompson said there's a reason the calculations are taking this much time. "Three months may seem like a long time, but when you're talking about the size of the damage that has occurred, if all three buildings from the very beginning were determined to be a loss, the process would be a lot quicker."

Governor Greg Abbott mentioned the challenges in his written request to President Donald Trump earlier this month.

And twice this month, Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz have pushed for the aid in letters to the President and to FEMA.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson met with FEMA's new administrator Peter Gaynor last week. "I think it's a priority of theirs. I think it's evidenced by the fact within a week of being on the job, the newly confirmed FEMA Administrator, that we got a face to face meeting with him. He looked me in the eye and told me they are very committed to making sure Dallas gets help from the federal government."

The city of Dallas has been waiting for the disaster declaration too because without it, the city is staring at $45 million dollars in uninsured losses to its infrastructure.

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