Houston’s neighborhoods are drying out, roads are re-opening, and city leaders say the city is back open for business.
But depending on where someone is in the city, it can feel like a tale of two cities, and sometimes the difference can be measured in blocks.
On Monday, just before 1 p.m., it was the classic lunchtime scene along Post Oak Boulevard near the Galleria, one of Houston’s most iconic spots: busy Galleria restaurants, pristine homes, big businesses in full swing and towering construction.
But take a quick drive to the other side of Highway 59, and it feels like a totally different city.
“You drive by the Galleria and you see the parking lot’s full, everybody’s shopping,” said Max Brown, who lives in Southwest Houston.
Brown has been spending the last two weeks clearing out waterlogged furniture and salvaging belongings from his apartment near Brays Bayou, which took on about 18 inches of water during Harvey.
However, many of his neighbors near Brays Bayou fared much worse, some with several feet of water inside their homes.
Monday was moving day for Brown, his girlfriend and his 4-month-old daughter.
“Every hotel in Houston is booked, but we managed to find a place way up in Northwest Houston,” said Brown. “It’s about 45 minutes’ drive back each way. Traffic’s always bad and (my daughter) gets grumpy.”
Across Meyerland, down Braeswood Boulevard and throughout many other Houston-area neighborhoods, the chaotic aftermath of the last two weeks clashes with the peaceful calm of spots like Discovery Green.
“It feels like Hurricane Harvey never even happened,” said Christian Brown on Monday afternoon at the downtown park. “Things changed.”
Brown says while his own home and car escaped damage, his grandmother’s home flooded.
“For the good God, thank the man above, He fixed it, got everything good,” said Brown. “FEMA and everybody helped us out.”
Although Stephanie Santoyo escaped damage, her neighbors on the Northeast side weren’t as lucky.
“I think it feels different,” said Santoyo, of Houston. “Not a lot of people out here on the streets like before.”
While many flooded roads crossing Buffalo Bayou in West Houston have reopened, the city’s mandatory curfew is still in effect for some nearby neighborhoods, which were the most recent ones underwater.
People in eight ZIP codes across the westside are also still being asked to conserve water after two of the city’s wastewater treatment plants flooded.