Some homeowners in Houston’s Meyerland neighborhood hammered repeatedly by flooding since 2015 got some long-awaited relief Wednesday.
Houston City Council members approved beginning construction on elevating nine homes near Brays Bayou, the first of 42 homes funded by nearly $15 million in FEMA money.
Three of the homes will be on North Braeswood Boulevard, two on Braesvalley Drive, with the others on Breakwood Drive, Cadman Court, Kit Street and Cliffwood.
Mayor Sylvester Turner says 600 families applied for help, 42 were chosen, but 12 dropped out, so 30 homes remain. Each home will be elevated by at least 12 inches, and the money will also cover temporary housing for the homeowners for up to eight weeks during construction.
Staff members of Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen, whose District C covers Meyerland, tells KHOU homes qualified by being labeled by FEMA as a ‘repetitive loss’ or ‘severe repetitive loss’. According to FEMA’s website, these include homes that have flooded at least twice and hit a certain damage threshold.
During his weekly press conference following the meeting, Mayor Turner told reporters he feels lucky to get access to federal dollars in a program that lets longtime owners stay put.
“It keeps the neighborhood together,” Turner said. “Meyerland is very important to the city of Houston, and it’s important to continue, if possible, to have people stay there.”
Turner added, “From FEMA’s point of view, they’re balancing insurance risk, and they made their own assessment that it’s much cheaper in the long term to provide this funding to elevate people’s homes.”
This new FEMA money is in addition to more than $66 million given to the city by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department for recovery from the 2015 Memorial Day and October floods.
City council got the ball rolling on this project with a vote in September 2016, so Turner says the contractors have already been vetted and picked.
Turner says state law only allows construction on ten homes at a time, but once 75 percent of the work is done, the city can vote to add more homes to the list.