Federal plan to elevate Houston homes draws fire from Turner, City Council

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A plan from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to elevate five homes in Houston’s most flood-prone areas is reportedly drawing criticism from city officials.

According to leaders, the plan is estimated to cost $1.6 million, or more than an estimated, approximated $300,000 per home, to elevate the five homes in the Meyerland neighborhood in southwest Houston.

A report from the Houston Public Works Department showed, in three of the five cases, the costs to elevate the homes would be more than the value of the properties.

During an interview, City Council Member for District H Karla Cisneros told a Houston newspaper she found the “inefficiencies” in the program “disturbing: ”

“When we look at the homes that are here and the value of those homes, and then the cost to elevate slab construction – it’s very expensive,” Cisneros said.

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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner agreed with the sentiment of Cisneros’ assessment, advocating further for the FEMA funds to be spent on preventative measures, such as detention ponds and other mitigation projects, rather than elevating a few houses in one neighborhood.

“We’re spending a lot, and we’re getting a very small return. There’s no question of that,” Turner said in another interview. “It doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to do it this way, but here is where we are.”

The city manages the FEMA funds, but the federal agency determines the costs for the elevation projects, as well as which houses are eligible for elevation.

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Meyerland resident Christopher Bisel said during an interview with the paper he applied for the elevation grant in 2015, the same year as the Memorial Day Flood washed through his home.

He said his home also flooded during the 2016 Tax Day Flood and Hurricane Harvey:

“It was nauseating to hear those comments,” said Bisel. “This is federal money designated to be used for this purpose. We’ve waited a very long time for this.”

This is a developing story.

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