Close to 2,000 homes reported damaged in Harris County as post-Imelda assessment process begins

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In hopes of securing federal funding, city and county recovery officials have started performing damage assessments of properties affected by tropical depression Imelda.

Houston has reported 1,000 to 1,500 damaged properties and will likely report more as assessments continue, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a press conference Sept. 23.

Another 540 homes in unincorporated Harris county were reported damaged, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said.

The Texas Department of Emergency Management uses a formula to determine the dollar amount of damage a county must sustain to qualify for an application from the state to the federal government for a federal disaster designation.

To qualify for a federal disaster designation, Harris County must sustain an estimated $15.5 million in damage and neighboring Montgomery County must sustain an estimated $1.7 million in damage, a TDEM representative said.

Additionally, statewide damage must total 800 or more uninsured homes that have been destroyed or received major damage and over $37.7 million in damage. If both thresholds are not met, the state will not qualify for a federal disaster designation and therefore funds cannot be extended to individual counties.

If granted a federal disaster designation, the county and the city may receive funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for rebuilding both public and private infrastructure. The notoriously slow process, means many repairs are performed before funds are disbursed and are instead allocated in the form of reimbursements.

Despite a need to “streamline the process” Turner said he and Hidalgo are working to gain the federal disaster designation quickly to set the process in motion.

“We are doing everything we can to get [President Donald Trump] to sign a declaration,” he said.

Turner said he was encouraged by remarks made by Trump on a visit to Houston on Sept. 21 during which he said he “wanted to do everything he could.”

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Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered health care and public education in Austin.
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