The Texas Gulf Coast – Post HarveyCenturyTree
It’s only been two and a half years since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. That storm alone resulted in $125 billion in total damage. Far exceeding the damage incurred from any other natural disaster with the exception of Hurricane Katrina. The massive storm ended up affecting around 13 million people.
Two years later, it seemed that the majority of Texas had already recovered, particularly in the Texas Gulf Coast. However, some areas in the Aransas and Matagorda counties haven’t fully recovered. Still, the state has shown some significant improvements not just in its coastal ecosystems, but also in the livelihood of its citizens.
A year after the storm
According to statistics from the Texas Department of Public Safety, around 197,000 homes were damaged by the storm. However, some suspect the number to be low since not everyone reported the home to the authorities. Recovery has been, in fact, pretty slow in some communities but most were back up and running at least within a few weeks. 60 inches of rain brought by the storm and 80% of the households affected not having flood insurance has resulted in a change in the landscape – some neighborhoods were bought out by FEMA and many are not required to carry flood insurance.
Two years after the storm
Two years after the massive storm, life in some major cities in Texas, such as Houston has returned to normal. The kids are back at school, people are back to their normal routines and real estate developers continue developing properties in floodplains – this time, at higher elevations.
The Texas economy is strong and Houston has continued to set new records for home sales. However, there are still thousands of survivors who are still living in damaged homes. Even though the city has received a total of $2.5 billion as recovery funds, the city is yet to start any repairs.
According to an analysis conducted by Bloomberg, most of the maps by FEMA are outdated. Therefore, in an attempt to fix the issue, FEMA and the Texas General Land Office partnered to create a new floodplain map in order to better predict flooding caused by storms such as Hurricane Harvey. The last time FEMA drew flood maps for the Gulf Coast was 20 years ago.
Those maps were unveiled to the public beginning in March 2019. They will impact property owners up and down the Gulf Coast by almost tripling the number of homeowners required to carry flood insurance.
These maps are available for the public through the FEMA website www.fema.gov which can be searched by County and State.