City worried about reaching owners of flooded homes

From The Galveston Daily | Click Here to Read the Full Article

The status of more than 100 homes in Friendswood that flooded during Hurricane Harvey remains as murky as Clear Creek.

It’s also not clear whether all the affected homeowners got letters from the city informing them that the Federal Emergency Management Agency labeled their structures as substantially damaged.

FEMA contractors determined that 114 homes in Friendswood had the specific label of “substantially damaged,” but that’s not the last word, Assistant City Manager Morad Kabiri said.

“It’s a very fluid situation,” Kabiri said.

The FEMA contractors made an initial assessment by walking up to exteriors of houses and did not go inside, he said.

If invited, the city would go inside a home and make its determination, but to be invited would mean that homeowners read the letter, Kabiri said. Some have extended the invitation and shared their insurance adjustment information, while others have already started rebuilding their homes, he said.

“Others have yet to get in touch with us,” Kabiri said.

City staff mailed letters to the 114 home addresses, spokesman Jeff Newpher said.

Councilman Mike Foreman is concerned that residents also don’t know about other assistance available from community organizations for the same reason — no one is sure the people who need the information are checking their mail because they aren’t staying in the houses that flooded.

“It’s personal for me,” Foreman said.

Foreman, who is running for mayor, is rebuilding his house, which was flooded with 2.5 feet of water, he said. It’s not one of the 114 substantially damaged homes, but he’s concerned about the homeowners who haven’t contacted the city, he said.

“Homeowners need to reach out to the city manager’s office,” he said. “We are really just beginning the process. We need homeowner involvement.”

Friendswood officials estimated damage from Harvey, which caused massive flooding in late August, to be near $82.7 million citywide.

Damage to single-family houses in Friendswood was about $62.1 million. Of 2,410 single-family homes damaged, more than 190 were destroyed, with more than 48 inches of water inside, officials said.