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Houston residents may need to raise homes after Harvey

HOUSTON – More than 1,600 Houston residents whose properties are flooded during and after Hurricane Harvey may be required to elevate their homes if they want to continue to live.

The city of the Public Works Department is ready to notify property owners in the floodplain that their structures are declared “substantially damaged.” The department said more than 30,500 structures sit within the city’s floodplains, the number of floods of the hurricane and the heavy rains that followed, the Houston Chronicle.

These homes will have extra, expensive repairs to meet current building regulations. Such repairs may mean that physically, the increase of houses, an upgrade officials said could cost more than $150,000.

Public Works officials said more than 1,600 letters are going out this month the first set of properties are identified as such damaged that repair would cost more than 50 percent of the structure of the market value.

“The letter of substantial damage is a tool for the city of Houston and ensures that people do not repair homes that really should not be repaired,” said Ed Wolff, a resident who received the letter Tuesday.

Wolff said that his house should be the designation so he can be eligible for a reduction of the loan to increase his house, which flooded for the third time in three years. Wolff said that he plans to elevate his home 6 feet (1.8 meters), which is 3 feet (1 meter) above the waterline of Harvey. He said that the increase will cost more than $270,000.

“The costs are huge,” said Houston Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen. “It is difficult, but there are decisions that need to be made.”

The Public Works Department is still working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to have a final count of properties that have been identified.

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Information: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com

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