Meyerland homes either sold or lifted after years of Houston flooding anguish that peaked during Harvey

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Hurricane Harvey reshaped a lot of Houston neighborhoods after its historic flooding last August.

One of the impacted areas is Meyerland in southwest Houston, where people who thought this was their forever home have packed up what they could salvage and left for good.

Marc Nathan is among those who's had enough. He can't rebuild his house again.

"It's very stressful on everybody that's involved," Nathan told Eyewitness News. "Why should anybody have to do that? Or why would anybody want to do that?"

Nathan's Meyerland home has been in his family for 60 years. But after three floods, he and his wife are moving on, and Harvey was the final straw.

"The uncertainty," Nathan explained. "The anxiety of the possibility of every time. It's the PTSD syndrome of it, starting to rain."

He's among a large number of friends and neighbors who moved out of Meyerland. It's not the neighborhood it was a year ago.

"It's very quiet," he said. "It's a ghost town at night time."

In his case, he sold his home to someone who will demolish and rebuild something elevated in its place. He was part of an auction of Meyerland homes.

Paul Lynn, a real estate broker, organized the auction and is planning another for those long-time residents who've made the tough decision to move on and out. In many cases, the houses can't be rebuilt without incredible expense.

"Now that we're a year later, people are starting to make decisions," Lynn said. "Most of the people, if they could stay here, they would. If they could stay in their houses, they would. If they could remodel."

Meyerland is just one of the neighborhoods that's so markedly different than it was before Harvey. But it is emblematic of the widespread fears of so many who don't want to face rising water in their homes a second, third, or fourth time, and are moving somewhere else so it doesn't happen again.

But not everybody is leaving. If you drive through Meyerland, you'll notice a mix of ranch-style homes, built five or six decades ago, mixed with new construction. The new builds are elevated to avoid flooding, and so are some of the older homes: the ones not being torn down for lot value.

Drew Shefman is among them. His home is 10 feet higher than when it was first built.

"I definitely don't have to worry when it rains, which is a nice feeling," Shefman said of his home, where reconstruction is nearly complete.

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Some Meyerland residents lifting their homes after Harvey

The elevation process began in the hours before Harvey, after the house flooded in two previous storms. Since Harvey, he's seen his neighbors follow suit.

"Even after Tax Day and Memorial Day, people were talking about it a lot," Shefman said. "And then after Harvey, clearly, it jumped up in numbers of how many people are doing it."

It is the new face of Meyerland and other flood-prone communities in southeast Texas. Homeowners who want to stay, who like their homes, are lifting them. Phillip Contreras owns a company that does that work. Since Harvey, they've lifted 65 homes.

"Some weeks we've done, we've lifted as many as four in a week. It's getting them up to where they're going to be safe," Contreras said. "This looks like it's the new Houston. This is the height that they need to be at."

There are countless residents of these neighborhoods who are now former residents. They've had enough and they're leaving. But others who choose to stay, or developers who see opportunities, are reshaping the neighborhoods in a way that might have seemed unreasonable a decade ago, but now is becoming more commonplace.

Jeanne Weaver's house flooded in Harvey. She is also a realtor with Coldwell Banker. She knows the area well. She's seen it change in response to Harvey and in a good way.

"Meyerland is coming back strong," she said while smiling broadly. "Location, location, location. The neighbors. We have great parks. Excellent schools, Bellaire High School. We have a lot going on in Meyerland."

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. In Meyerland and in other places, Mother Nature has necessitated ingenuity. For those who choose to stay, it's the only way to do it without the always looming threat of more water rising in the streets and filling the homes.

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