Tough decisions await Houston homeowners on whether to rebuild

Tough decisions await Houston homeowners on whether to rebuild

HOUSTON – Reuters
Tough decisions await Houston homeowners on whether to rebuild It took just hours for Tropical Storm Harvey’s floodwaters to destroy hand-hewn cabinets and wood floors that Chad Wilson spent more than 18 months to build and install in his Houston home. 

Wilson’s first thought after the waters receded and he girded himself for a Herculean cleanup is one echoing across the storm-weary Texas coast: should he rebuild?

With most of the home, which had never before flooded, now gutted, Wilson says he will only remain if he can raise its level above the ground by up to two meters. 

“We will not live in this house at this elevation again,” said Wilson, who teaches at the University of Houston. “It was too traumatizing.” 

More than 203,000 Texas homes were damaged or destroyed by Harvey, which dumped as much as 132 centimeters of rain across the region and killed as many as 60, according to authorities. 

Some of those homes are still flooded. Two area reservoirs will for at least another 10 days release water into an overflowing drainage system to relieve pressure. That has some advising homeowners to demolish their homes, rather than repair them. 

“If flooding in some homes persists for weeks, the likelihood of saving them diminishes rapidly,” said Ron Witte, a professor of architecture at Houston’s Rice University.

For those homes that will be restored, owners face what are expected to be shortages of materials and equipment, a scenario that plagued Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“I guarantee you there’s going to be a shortage of Sheetrock in Houston during the next three months,” said Roger Cooner, a Houston-based architect.