How a Community Was Sacrificed to Save Houston | Times Documentaries

How a Community Was Sacrificed to Save Houston | Times Documentaries


“We never anticipated having
that sense of community on our doorstep.” “It was a hell of a good
home, and we could afford it.” “Hopefully, our authorities
can win our trust back again.” “Harvey took away from us
our normal everyday life that you go through.” “Nobody anticipated it,
so very few people really were prepared for it.” “Our community is right
next to the reservoir. And they knew that,
because they designed it.” “The nation’s fourth
largest city, Houston, bracing for
catastrophic flooding.” “The Army Corps of
Engineers say in order to save homes downstream, it
has to flood others upstream. That includes homes in
Cinco Ranch and Bear Creek.” “3,000 homes got water
behind the Barker Reservoir. Harvey didn’t flood them —
the federal government flooded them.” “A lot of people think that
they did that to save downtown, and I understand. But now we need help. We need help, too.” “What do we do next? How do we solve this thing
without going dead broke?” “Much of our developed area on
the east side of the county is protected by levees. The reservoir was backing
up like a bathtub filling. We didn’t know exactly
how high it would rise.” “This storm, 38 inches of rain
in about a three day period, is probably almost total for
the year what we normally get. Had those flows gone
around the ends of the dam, they would have caused a
great deal of flooding. So we had to make
a tough decision.” “We have opened the gates,
and we are actually flooding homes downstream now.” “This area is designed to
hold that water if necessary. It’s unfortunate for you all,
but that’s how it’s designed.” “Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Already has — already
has mold growing. God. Almost no one around
here has flood insurance. It’s not supposed to
be an area that floods.” “Everything I own
was in that house. I lost my wife about a year ago. And so there was a lot of
emotion, and a lot of memories that I have to not think about.” “As we were driving into the
neighborhood, Lily kept saying, it feels so weird to be here. We were trying to
kind of prepare her that it’s going to
look a lot different.” “And it’s like it’s
a huge stupid beach. It’s usually like
there’s so much grass. All the kids running around. It just feels weird
seeing it like this, because all this
trash is never here. It was like so high and scary. Like, first the
water was up to here. Then it started getting
into the houses. See this like
Post-it note thing? My mom told me it was like, make
sure there’s no dead bodies.” “He has been so
obsessed with looking through flooding pictures. At least five times a day,
he wants to look and see the house when it first
flooded and the picture of Lily’s school.” “So the grant is
a max of $33,300, and you can only get that
once you’ve been inspected. We have almost
800,000 registrations in the state of Texas alone. Right now it’s just
a waiting process, because it does take while
for them to get to you.” “So what’s going to happen
is, don’t freak out, you’re going to get a
denial letter from FEMA, because you have a homeowners. But when you get your reward
letter from your homeowners, telling how much
they’re paying you, you’re going bring a copy
of that letter to me. And I’m going to fax
it to Washington, and then FEMA picks back up
what the homeowners didn’t pay.” “O.K. But then — O.K.” “O.K.?” “Now what do I do for wheels?” “For that? I don’t know.” “I mean, you’re it? I don’t qualify?” “It’s left up to your inspector. It ain’t left up to me.” “How about accommodations? My daughter is
selling her house. I’m out of — I have no place to go.” “I’ll put that in your notes.” “Homes were
substantially destroyed, and I think you really have
to make a serious decisions as to whether you want to rebuild. If I lived behind that
reservoir and my house had four or four and a
half feet of water in it, I don’t think I could rebuild. I wouldn’t want to rebuild.” “We’re paying the
mortgage and the rent. We do get a low
interest loan from FEMA, and so that helps a lot. We live with my
daughter and her kids. We want my grandkids to grow up here.” “There were lots of
sleepless nights — where was the money going
to come from in order to rebuild our house? But we did receive a
small grant from FEMA, and the church was able to cover
three months worth of rent. I think we both just
sat there and cried. It was so overwhelming. We were so fortunate. None of my other neighbors
are in a similar situation.” “So the hurricane hit, right? Now, it’s react time. What are you going to
do with your property? The longer you
hesitate, the more damage that’s going to
accrue on your house. As horrible as it’s
been, everybody has been pretty
upbeat and happy. Hello, sir. Not everybody, but most people. Hey, how are you doing, sir? I’m James. I’m James Smith with Keller
Williams Energy Corridor Realty. How are you? I was just wondering
how everybody is doing?” “About in the same shape. Waiting on FEMA, most of us. And S.B.A. loans.” “Got you.” “Just in a holding pattern
until we can repair our homes.” “If you give me a
call, I can give you some information on the
proper people that come in and get in contact with. All my advice is going
to be at no cost to you. And if I ever can help
you, just give me a call.” “Appreciate it.” “No problem. I’ll let you get
back to work, sir. So there’s a lot
of properties that actually went into foreclosure. A lot of those
now the bank owns. Let’s go. You be careful. Now, they’re going to
be totally renovated with all the new items on it. Because there’s too
many people selling — that’s going to create
a buyer’s market. They can kind of set the price.” “I’m 87. I’m not going to spend the last
years of my life building back a house that I ain’t
going to go and live in. I’m going to sell it. We just don’t talk about
what has gone and will never be back.” “There’s Dad. Look at my beautiful mother.” “See, all that furniture
sitting out on the lawn was 62 years of
accumulation, of memories. And, that hurts.” “For a while there, it looked
like a ghost town in here. I’d say, like a quarter
of the community is back. All right. We still have a lot of little
things that have to be done, but we’re home.” “It feels exciting to
be back in the house, and a little bit overwhelming.” “Where are all the
flooded pictures?” “You want to see all
the flooded pictures?” “Yeah. Where are they?” “Remember when our
house looked like that?” “Yeah. I want to see the X on it.” “Oh, I don’t think I took
a picture of the X. You know what? Maybe I did. Hold on, let me look. There it is.” “I love to move back in.” “We already moved
back in, didn’t we? So did we get to take that down?” “Yeah.” “Yeah, it’s not there
anymore, is it? I can’t describe how happy I
am to be back in my own house. I do you have a sense of guilt
that comes along with it. There’s a lot of people
that haven’t even had their FEMA visits.” “For my own sanity, I got to stay
positive and moving forward.” “Our community never should
have been developed. It’s hundreds and
hundreds of houses. Now we are proof that we
need better regulations.”

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

14 thoughts on “How a Community Was Sacrificed to Save Houston | Times Documentaries

  1. If your house is dry because of a levy you should not be able to buy insurance or expect the .gov to bail you out. Build on high ground.

  2. People in east Houston were completely forgotten about, lied to, and shunned. It has been 3 years and still no aid.

  3. this is heartbreaking. i know several girls from the high school but i never knew this could even happen. how was this allowed to happen?any of it?

  4. If you rebuild the houses rebuild them on 12 foot high cement foundations. I'm not saying what they did was right but come on people it sounds like you all new it was a flood plain.

  5. Wow. I live in Cinco Ranch, and I know for a fact IT WAS NOT MADE TO FLOOD. There was a rain storm a few weeks ago, and the water went up to the windows of the Cinco Ranch Junior High School.

  6. facts i was wondering why nobody talked about this…they flooded those homes on purpose and they knew they were going to do that…a power plant also exploded and they knew days before it would happen

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