Meyerland residents still dealing with fallout from last year's Memorial Day flood

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A year after the devastating 2015 Memorial Day flood, many in the Houston area are still struggling to pick up the pieces. (KTRK)

A year after the devastating 2015 Memorial Day flood, many in the Houston area are still struggling to pick up the pieces. For those in hardest hit neighborhoods like Meyerland, flooding from this year's April storms have only made for an even more difficult recovery.

"It's a real downer to come back here," said one Meyerland resident of her home, still a mess, a full year after the flood. "Here we were with towels and it was like going after an elephant with a fly swatter."

Tim Ryan's home was reduced to studs after what happened last Memorial Day. He thought his house and his family's lives might be put back together by now, but a year after his first storm damage estimate from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he has dug into $30,000 of the family's savings, waiting for a settlement as he battles with insurance adjusters.

Ryan says there are just some things you can't get back. "You lose things that have value to you," he said.

For Meyerland mother and daughter Rici and Dena, the 2015 Memorial Day flood brought a sea of change to the tight knit community.

"The community has gone, the people have disbursed," said Rici. She ended up selling her property for half of its value and downsizing, while her daughter, Dena, remodeled.

"Shell shock, not sure what to do, what to move first, what to pick up," said Dena. Then came the April flooding, adding insult to injury. "I would love to sell my house," said Dena. "I've spoken to investors, they don't want to purchase it," she said of her attempt to leave the neighborhood, much like her mother. "I've been told raise it or tear it down --we've looked into both of those, because of the structure and the way the house is built, you can't lift it," Dena said.

In the same neighborhood, Michelle Howard and her family are on a waiting list for a grant to have their home elevated.

"I was not going to move back into my house unless it was elevated," said Howard. Fed up with the constant threat of destructive flooding, Howard says the answers from the city and the county aren't cutting it. "It kind of seems to me this isn't rocket science that the infrastructure is no longer sufficient," she said.

Project Brays program manager Gary Zika says there is movement to reduce flood risks but admits there is a key factor many in Meyerland have overlooked.

"You've gotta almost go back to when those houses were originally built," said Zika. "They were built on rice fields and in some of those areas, they were built where the bayou used to run --the regulations today wouldn't allow them to build those same houses at those same elevations," Zika said.

A major, joint-effort between the Harris County Flood Control District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Project Brays is aimed at reducing flooding risks by widening channels of the bayou, creating detention basins and replacing old bridges with better engineering to increase water flow by eliminating some of the supports that trap debris.

Bridge improvements will continue through 2021.

"What we're trying to do is lower the risk to anybody that's in the flood plain," said Zika. Though, he admits he can't stop the rain, "We're not saying we're going to eliminate it in any way, we're lowering the risk."

Work on the Meyerland segment of Project Brays is still two years away. Zika estimates that once the project is finished, it will be able to move 30-percent more water, but for one Meyerland resident, that's not enough.

"I hate to give up my home, I love my home but I don't have confidence this is not going to happen again."
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