Hurricane Harvey, 5 years later: Some Kashmere Gardens residents wait for federal money to rebuild

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Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Kashmere Gardens residents struggle to recover 5 years after Harvey
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Kashmere Gardens in northeast Houston are still struggling to recover five years after Hurricane Harvey. Some residents live on fixed incomes.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- At 99 years young, Pinkie Cooper has seen a lot in her time early on. Hurricane Harvey, however, stands out.

"It was real bad, and water was so high. And the truck couldn't come here," Pinkie Cooper said, standing on her pink-edged home in her pink robe. "I had to walk out to the street."

She has lived in her Kashmere Gardens home since 1955. She'll never forget that day in 2017, when water came rushing in.

"We had to hold her up so the water wouldn't be over her head," her son Rodney Cooper said.

It's a story that's all too common in Kashmere Gardens, a community where many residents are elderly and on fixed incomes. The recovery has been even more challenging.

More ABC13 stories on Hurricane Harvey, 5 years later:

"The affluent, they have parachutes to fall back on," Keith Downey, president of the Kashmere Gardens Super Neighborhood Association, said. "In communities such as ours, people freefall, and they land where they land, sometimes on their backs."

"I never would have thought I would be experiencing all of this," Sylvia Scarbrough, another longtime resident, said.

Her home remains in disrepair five years after Hurricane Harvey. A hole on her living room floor means anyone can look down straight to the dirt beneath.

"Where I can walk around and put a hole in the outside of my house, and where I can sit on my toilet, and see the walls splitting?" she asks, shaking her head. "I've gone through hell and high water and hell again."

She is hoping federal funds will finally trickle down to her sometime in 2023 so her house can be rebuilt.

Cooper was a bit more lucky. Her grandson had purchased some insurance on her home. Her children offered up some of their savings. Together, they were able to scrape together enough money to rebuild on their own.

"I'm just blessed that I'm back in my home, and doing pretty good," Pinkie said.

For Downey, he says the biggest improvement for the entire region happened after voters approved a multi-billion dollar flood bond program. About $100 million was slated for the Hunting Bayou watershed, and the work is obvious.

The detention basins surrounding the bayous are wider, the banks steeper, and even jogging trails are visible.

"Vastly improved. This $100 million was served well from (Harris) County," Downey said.

Still, nobody in the area was eager to test out the improved drainage. They worry it still won't be enough.

ABC13 Town Hall: Hurricane Harvey's lingering impact 5 years later

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