TOPICS > Nation

In west Houston, evacuees eager to start repairs

September 3, 2017 at 5:54 PM EDT
More than 39,000 people are still in shelters after Hurricane Harvey brought extensive flooding to Gulf Coast cities and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has received 507,000 requests for disaster aid. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that the cost of damage from the storm could surpass that of Hurricane Katrina. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Marcia Biggs reports on the latest from Houston.

MARCIA BIGGS, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND: This is what it looks like inside the kitchen of Matt and Mariana Kremers’ home in west Houston. Floodwaters are up to the counters. That’s part of their sofa, which floated in from the living room.

Just last night, for the first time since Harvey hit, Houston officials ordered a mandatory evacuation for their neighborhood, where floodwaters have yet to recede.

Today, Matt tried to get back to check on their home, but police turned him away.

Even though Mariana is 8 months pregnant, the Kremers initially decided to stay put and ride out the storm. But their living room slowly turned from this… to this.

MARIANA KREMERS: “You’ve got to hold mommy’s hand.”

Six days ago, they decided to flee.

Mariana filmed the family boarding a Good Samaritan’s boat that rescued them, along with their three-year-old son, George, a dog and two cats. Not knowing where they would go, she posted the video to Facebook.

So sad to leave our home behind but grateful for this brave man to picked us up. Now what, question mark? We don’t know.”

BIGGS: And you still feel that way?

KREMERS: And I still feel that way.

BIGGS: Mariana says her streets were clear until the city released water from two reservoirs, an effort to keep antiquated dams from buckling.

KREMERS: That’s the part I just can’t get over. Why weren’t we warned?

BIGGS: Are you angry with the city of Houston?

KREMERS: I just don’t understand why the communication wasn’t better. they should have known that the neighborhoods behind the bayou were going to be severely affected. Yet, nobody said anything to us. Why? That’s not ok and I want answers and so do my neighbors. I feel like the sacrificial lamb.

BIGGS: Residents of a nearby, flood-ridden neighborhood that is also under an evacuation took time this weekend to protest being barred from starting to repair their homes.

ELI MAGANA, FLOOD VICTIM: I think a lot of us are frustrated because we want to get back to our homes, we want to start fixing stuff.

BOB HEBERT, JUDGE, FORT BEND COUNTY: We have a lot of these folks can’t even get into their homes yet to start taking up the carpet and sheetrock and just at least stop the deterioration.

BIGGS: The Kremers are now in limbo — living with Mariana’s parents in the town of Katy, a-half hour from a home they can’t reach or inhabit, and they’re about to have a second child.

KREMERS: We’re one of the lucky ones, but we can’t live with my family forever, unless you have insurance, which 80% of the people affected do not. There’s no answers for the rest of us.

BIGGS: With no flood insurance, they’ve applied to FEMA for aid, but their case is still pending. All they can do is wait.

SHARE VIA TEXT