Some still living in trailers two years after Ike

September 13, 2010 6:15:20 PM PDT
To some, it may seem like a lifetime ago; to others, it seems just like yesterday that Hurricane Ike came roaring ashore. Now, two years later, you would think a lot of the damage has been repaired and folks are back in their homes, but for hundreds of people, that's not the case.

There is some rebuilding going on in Shore Acres, but for many, they're still living in trailers. To date, the Harris County Homeowner Disaster Recovery Program has not paid out a cent to homeowners.

Two years after Hurricane Ike, the pathway to Rogers Thomson's home still leads to trailers. There's one for him and one for his wife, who is battling leukemia.

"I have been on an intense effort to get this effort to get this house completed before that disease runs its course," Thompson said.

The hospice chaplain has prayed for aid. Insurance and savings helped build only part of their new home.

"When we decided to rebuild, we ran out of money before we ran out of house," he said.

[IKE ANNIVERSARY: Look back at the storm that changed SE Texas]

The Thomsons are among the 17,000 homeowners in Harris County who have applied for aid from the Homeowner Disaster Recovery Program, which has been in existence for a year and not cut a single check.

"There are no homes under construction today. That's very frustrating," said Daphne LeMelle, the deputy director of the program.

Under the $56 million program, those with repairable damage can be eligible for up to $80,000. Those who must rebuild entirely can get up to $120,000.

But program directors blame state-level "red tape" and continuing changes to state requirements for the lack of funding distribution through that program.

LeMelle says the state's requirements, which she claims have changed repeatedly in just the past year, have slowed disbursement.

"If the blame has to go anywhere, I would have to say it has to be the rules of the state that we're having have to follow," she said.

The county says it has to make sure those who are to receive money don't owe back child support and making sure they are the property owner of record giving permission for the work.

The executive director of The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, which oversees that program, says, "There is nothing that the state is doing to delay folks from receiving help. ... Federal rules come with federal strings."

He blames federal requirements for any delays.


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