In 2017, one of the biggest tropical cyclones to ever hit Houston, Hurricane Harvey, flooded the metropolitan and South Texas area. The damage was so extensive that it’s tied to the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, both being two of the most costliest hurricanes to ever hit the country with damages amounting to more than $200 billion in total.
Two years after Hurricane Harvey landed, residents from Houston are still feeling its effects. Most homeowners have been able to repair their homes while some were forced to take out low-cost loans to help them rebuild their homes. Because of these repairs, it raises the question of whether or not Harvey flood victims should pay a certain amount for the repairs they’re making to their homes.
Buyouts as a solution
The effects of Hurricane Harvey will be felt for years, or maybe even decades, to come. It has left many homes destroyed with little to no chance of being repaired. This leaves homeowners not just with a damaged home but also a property that has depreciated after the flood. Some residents are doing their best to sell their homes while others are talking to the government for solutions that could benefit them financially.
Experts have decided to focus on buyouts as a solution to take these homes and turn them into an open space to improve drainage systems and lower the risk of flooding in the future. This has been a solution for Harris County since 1985, making it the county that made the most buyouts throughout America.
It has worked before, but with the increased flooding that’s been happening in Houston, buyouts can’t keep up with the aftereffects of flooding. Funding for the Harris County Flood Control District also has limited funding, dealing with more victims of damaged properties than their available funds can handle. This makes buyouts more optional than required and leaves many homeowners waiting for a solution that they can use to move in a better home.
The next steps for homeowners
If buyouts aren’t working, what’s next for the residents of Houston? Most of them don’t have flood insurance, which doesn’t apply to water rising from the ground up. As a plan of action, most Houston residents are suing the government for allowing contractors to build in the reservoir and saying that it was permitted.
Going back to the question of whether or not homeowners should be penalized for making repairs to their homes, it’s up to appraisal districts to see how these repairs affect the value of their land. Even if the damages left by Hurricane Harvey are repaired, the value of the land depreciates mainly because of its location – potential buyers may see that there’s a high chance of flooding happening again, especially to levels that extreme. As of right now, homeowners are just looking at buyouts and hoping that they get to let their damaged property go in hopes of buying and settling in a newer and safer space.
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