Uncertainty looms for family waiting for Harvey funds

Saturday, December 7, 2019
What now? Family impacted by Harvey keeps waiting
What now? Family impacted by Harvey keeps waiting

KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- When James Lundberg learned that the contractor paid $1.3 million for outreach and application of Harvey flood recovery applications was fired today by Harris County, he said it was long overdue.

He said he pre-applied to the program to help with the repair of his Katy home in February. His complaint was familiar: Repeat visits to the assistance center operated by ICF, a private company based in Virginia.

"I spent about 50 hours there talking to people. I put everything on a spreadsheet, and loaded it on a flash drive and gave it to the person assigned to help me. He said he had to input it himself, and that took hours," Lundberg said.

SEE ALSO: 13 Investigates: Harris Co. fires company paid $1.3M for Harvey recovery program

Lundberg's complaints echo those of the estimated 5,000 people who applied for the county's share of recovery money. It is federal money from Housing and Urban Development that is funneled to the State Land Office and eventually to Harris County.

"I still don't know if I've been approved," Lundberg said. "I was told an inspector was coming out. That never happened."

"I know I've got it better than a lot of people who flooded," he said.

Lundberg used the money he received from his flood insurance coverage to make repairs to his home.

"We had to gut the kitchen, remove sheetrock in the rest of the house, treat mold. But it didn't cover everything we needed, just enough to let us move back into the house," he said.

He had to cover some of the other expenses with his own money.

"I was using money intended for the mortgage to cover the remaining repairs."

It amounted to more than $14,000.

"Even now I have headaches, behind on bills, and have trouble sleeping," he said. "I keep trying, but my wife and I have lost hope."

SEE ALSO: 13 Investigates: How many people have received aid from Harris County's Harvey program? Zero

It didn't help that two months ago, what had been Tropical Storm Imelda brought water in the Lundberg's home again, though not as much as Harvey.

"Another reason I wanted to be approved for the county program is that one of the possibilities is to raise the house by a foot, which means we wouldn't have to worry about going through a flood again," he said.

"My advice to the county is get someone who can get this recovery program up and running. It's our tax money," he said.

His concern now is that, with a new contractor in charge of processing applications, the process may start all over again.

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