Conroe, October 15 – Emergency Management Director Darren Hess presented a bleak disaster recovery update to the Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday, October 10, 2017, with respect to the Tropical Storm Harvey/San Jacinto River Authority flooding. As Hess presented the report, Woodloch Mayor Diane Lincoln broke into tears on the front row, as essentially every home in Woodloch suffered major destruction during the Harvey/SJRA flooding.
Hess told the meeting that the Harvey/SJRA flooding impacted 4,768 homes, as confirmed to date in a collaborative effort between Hess’ office and the Montgomery Central Appraisal District. Hess noted that there are between five and six thousand homes that still require assessment and could join the impact list.
As of October 10, 2017, 18,384 Montgomery County residents had registered for assistance with the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency, although Hess explained that number is steadily rising.
Fifty of the 4,768 homes which suffered during the Harvey/SJRA flooding also are the subject of federal buyouts after the Memorial Day, 2016, storm. Hess said that those homes are just beginning to receive buyout funds more than fourteen months after the federal disaster declaration.
The federal government, through the action of the Congress and President Donald Trump, has approved $7.5 billion in funds for Texas to rebuild or buy out homes arising from the Harvey storm. “We are continually in talks with the federal government to move the buyouts forward,” Hess said. Hess warned that FEMA would likely not even provide an answer whether buyouts will be an option for flood-damaged homes in Montgomery County for at least another six months, although that process could take as long as two years.
It’s unclear what local agency will administer the federal buyout program. The State of Texas General Land Office, Community Development Block Grants, and the Houston-Galveston Area Council are possible agencies that may administer the federal buyout program for residences in Montgomery County.
Hess also warned that Montgomery County’s government may have to match up to 25% for the buyout program.
The Emergency Management Director also reported that debris removal contractors in Montgomery County have already collected over 92,000 cubic yards of debris from Montgomery County residences, while the original estimate had been in the range of 200,000 cubic yards. “There’s one street left for them to pick up in the first round of debris removal pickups,” Hess added.