Photo: Yi-Chin Lee, Staff
For residents of Nottingham Forest in West Houston, the impact of Harvey “still goes on” as this weekend they began gutting and repairing flood-damaged homes.
Neighbors whose homes were spared the brunt of Harvey turned out in support of their displaced neighbors, cooking dinners, housing friends and organizing supply drives with food and cleaning supplies.
Now, homeowners have banded together in an effort to repair the damage done to their community. Tents were set up by Saturday where residents passed out water, bleach, trash bags and other supplies to those trudging out of the still flooded Kellywood Dr, the only street that leads to Hickory Post Lane.
“While other parts of Houston have outwardly returned to normal, many Nottingham Forest homeowners said they are upset that they have yet to receive any major assistance from the city. However, they acknowledged that Mayor Sylvester Turner visited the neighborhood last week.
Homeowners said Turner promised to have the large trees felled across Hickory Post Lane cleared by Saturday which would allow vehicles to access the road and assist in cleaning debris. By Saturday evening the trees remained.
“The city resources were probably utilized to the best of their use for most of the storm but the storm still goes on for us,” said Hal Lynde, who has lived on Hickory Post Lane for 20 years. “Twenty percent of these people in this neighborhood are retired and they don’t have the benefit that I do of having a large family and huge group of friends that can come in and help me, it’s gonna be a rough ride for all of us but especially those people.”
‘It’s a waiting game’
When the flooding occurred, those trapped in their homes organized rescues via social media, using Facebook groups to connect with neighbors patrolling on small personal watercraft and kayaks. Eventually fan boats would be brought in by some residents to expedite the process.
“You couldn’t float down the street without somebody needing help,” said Lynde, who used his boat to assist in evacuating neighbors during Harvey and has helped ferry residents through the flooded streets of Nottingham Forest since. “Not one time as of this moment have we seen one city or county rescue vehicle other than when the mayor was here,”
Without flood insurance homeowner Jaime Watts and her husband Kristian said they’re financially unable to relocate or even repair the damages to their house without assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency which they said has not yet given them any concrete details on financial assistance.
“FEMA doesn’t tell you much, you really don’t get a lot of information,” said Jaime Watts who described her encounter with a FEMA representative at a supply drive set up by other Nottingham Forest residents as the only time she got any decent information.
“It’s a waiting game,” Watts said. “I think living here would be the best option financially, but I mean who’s gonna buy (the house) right now?”
Last week, Turner cited the massive nature of the hurricane. ” This was an historic, unprecedented rainfall, where homes didn’t just get one or two inches. They got feet of water in their homes. So, literally, people are emptying out their home, OK?
“For every big truck that we’re sending out, we can only probably get the debris from one particular house, one truck, one house. Probably in terms of units that were impacted, it could have been well over 100,000 units.
“In some cases, we’re going to be dealing with homes that simply cannot be rehabbed, so to speak. They may have to be rebuilt.”
Fear future flooding
Many Hickory Post Lane residents acknowledged they won’t be able to live in their homes again for at least another year. Though they look forward to moving back in, they fear future flooding.
“My issue in this whole deal is the county’s willingness to destroy these neighborhoods along the bayou, essentially picking winners and losers in this,” said homeowner Frank Simonton. “All of these homeowners pay an exorbitant amount of property taxes and we’ve essentially become a retention pond for the county.”