What Happened with the Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts?
Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston in 2017, becoming the second most expensive storm in U.S. history. Now the residents in Harris County, Texas to determine how to prepare for the next hurricane.
HOUSTON – a teenager, Gayle Hillman’s grandmother survived the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which killed thousands and is still the deadliest hurricane in AMERICAN history.
The 85-year-old grew up hearing her grandmother’s stories of that storm, never knowing that more than a hundred years later, and fifty miles from the coast, they would survive the worst rainfall event in AMERICAN history.
Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 50 mm of rain in the greater Houston area and beyond, causing more than sixty deaths and at least $125 billion dollars in damage.
A year later, Hillman, and so many like her are just started to regain a sense of normalcy.
“Everything was gone,” she said as she showed off her new living room, “so we had to buy everything new here.”
Hillman is back in her house, but it is a long, difficult road.
It is difficult for the square to her being brand new house with the ripped up, sopping mess of a skeleton that stood in the same place a year ago – and that was when Fox News first met Hillman, and her daughter, Susan Thomas, a few days after the storm hit.
Thomas’ house was still flooded with several meters of water, so they came to her to help her mother.
“At the time, I thought, it’s just stuff, it doesn’t matter,” Thomas told Fox News. “I kept thinking that the whole experience, how blessed I am able to have insurance, to be able to rebuild.”
In contrast to her mother, Thomas’ house is not yet ready. She and her husband are living out of one room, such as contractors work to finish the rest.
Thomas street, in a suburb of Houston, can serve as a good example of what happens on the field.
In just one block, there are houses in every state, fully completed still in ruins. There are new built houses and empty lots where beloved neighbors used to live. Some estimates say ten thousand people are still in homes even now, a year after the storm.
Now, Hillman and Thomas are the support of a new $2.5 billion bond measure on the ballot in Harris County this weekend – they hope to help them to prepare for any future storms.
The bond measure would help matching funds for federal grants, as well as widen bayous and the creation of new detention basins, large areas where rain water can sit until it drains back into the bayous and the sea.
“This would double or triple our budget and allows us to really strive for larger projects,” said Matt Zeve with the Harris County Flood Control District.
A recent University of Houston study found 62 percent of voters who say they will vote in the bond election support. The administrator of Harris County says he is not surprised it is a problem that is a strictly non-partisan.
“There is nothing political about this bond,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. “This is really, everyone says we have to do this.”
That spirit of cooperation can be a thing that harkens back to the dark days of the storm.
Jim McIngvale, affectionately known around Houston as “Mattress Mack,” opened his furniture storage space for refugees during and after the storm.
“Everybody to a person,” McIngvale told Fox News, “they gave, was the people, and the care of people.”
He added: “And that is what we need to do every day.”
He and other supporters say the bond will be the first step in doing that.
As for Hillman, and Thomas, despite the harrowing experience of life by Harvey and the headaches of reconstruction, they say, they are grateful.
“I learned a lot about the power of nature,” said Thomas. “But I have also learned about the power of the man.”
Thomas’ mother agreed.
“Everyone was so friendly,” says Hillman. “They went further than what you expect from people.”
All the neighbors and friends and even complete strangers, who helped the grandmother to go to flourish and live to tell of her own grandchildren, her survival story of a major hurricane.
Casey stegall joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2007 and currently serves as a correspondent based in the Dallas bureau. He worked as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.