Meyerland residents lift spirits -- and homes -- after years of flooding

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Two years of devastating floods have left Meyerland residents wondering if it's worth it to rebuild. (KTRK)

When it rains in Houston, it pours -- and the increasing frequency of devastating flooding has left some southwest Houston residents wondering if it's worth it to rebuild.

Over the last two years, two major flash floods have ravaged the city as slow-moving thunderstorms dumped several inches of rain in mere hours. When flash flooding struck in April 2016, some homeowners were just finishing repairs from the Memorial Day flood of 2015.

In Meyerland, beautiful homes in a once-thriving community now sit abandoned as the families who lost so much more than once have moved out. Water has destroyed dozens of homes, leaving neighbors with the difficult decision to uproot their lives or stay and lift their home.

"Eighty percent of the houses here are empty or vacant after the second year of the flood," said Lois Milstead, who bucked the trend and moved into a newly remodeled Meyerland home earlier this year. "I realize that the house here has flooded four times. Water was up five feet in the house."

Many of Milstead's neighbors have since torn down their homes or left the neighborhood -- but she hopes to convince them to lift their homes.

"There's a lot of companies out here, probably three companies out here, doing lifts and they're doing beautiful work," Milstead said. "I just think we need to offer a better financial option for the residents."

For Shimon Atzil, the decision to lift was an easy one. After living in Meyerland for nearly two decades, the Memorial Day flood sent three feet of water gushing into his home.

"It's more affordable to live in the house, so that's why you want to lift and then remodel versus tear down and start a new one," Atzil said.

But the cost to lift is steep -- Atzil received a $460,000 quote from a contractor, so he decided to do it himself, brick by brick.

"I'm really good with my hands. I've done some homes before. I done that kind of work. Never lift a house, so it came to me that if I support the house in certain ways and certain place and it should work," he remarked.

Milstead watched from next door as Atzil lifted his home block by block, and the two decided to team up to make home lifting more affordable for their neighbors. While contractors quoted $45 per square foot, the two neighbors lift houses for only $25 per square foot on average.

"If your house is totally remodeled, we can still lift it up with no damage whatsoever. That's the system," Shimon explained.

The two neighbors endured the troubled waters together, and they are now working to lift homes and spirits to keep Meyerland afloat in the face of rising water.
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