AUSTIN – As Texans battle widespread flooding due to Tropical Storm Imelda, Attorney General Ken Paxton warned residents of southeast Texas that state law prohibits price gouging in the wake of a declared disaster.

“Any person or business selling goods must be aware that they are prohibited by law from engaging in price gouging during or after a disaster,” said Attorney General Paxton. “My office will work aggressively to prevent disaster scams and stands ready to prosecute any price-gouger who takes advantage of rebuilding and recovering Texans.”

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for the counties of Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Orange and San Jacinto. Under state law, once the governor issues a declaration, vendors are prohibited from charging exorbitant prices for necessities such as drinking water, food, batteries, generators, towing, clothing, medical supplies, lodging, repair work and fuel during and after the crisis.

Currently, the disaster declaration prompted by the widespread damage from flooding is effective only in the 13 named counties. Price gouging is illegal, and a disaster declaration triggers stiffer penalties under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.