How destructive will Hurricane Harvey be? Where can I go when Hurricane Harvey hits? These and other questions were posed by Texans in early August of 2017. Now, five months later, Texans must think through the answers of four important questions that will impact the speed and efficiency of the recovery efforts for the city and her residents.
How Will the State of Texas Spend Billions in Federal Long-Term Recovery Money?
The first, and arguably one of the most important questions, stems from federal aid. Texas is currently waiting to be awarded billions of dollars in federal recovery money, but the amount of funding is currently up in the air. Texas has stated that it needs $121 billion of recovery money. When they get federal money, they are requesting that the government allows them to use it in any way they see fit.
At this point in time, the federal government has announced that Texas will receive $5 billion in funds, an amount that is subject to change. While Texas fights for more federal aid, Texans are fighting for that aid to come to them. Many housing advocates are alarmed at the amount of public work projects that are outlined in the federal aid requests. If the state of Texas focuses on infrastructure recovery over community recovery, many homeowners have serious reason to fear the next couple of months.
When Will the Justice System in Houston Return to Normal?
Trials in Houston were massively delayed due to Hurricane Harvey damages. Houston is one of America’s busiest criminal justice systems, which means the month-long delays seriously backed-up the system. Houston jury trials had resumed October 16, but the backlog of cases is lengthy. Judges and courts are pulling double duty in various areas, but this pace doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. In fact, the system will likely stay bogged down for as long as another year.
How Will the Gulf Coast Respond to the Flood Risks That Harvey Uncovered?
As Harvey uncovered weaknesses of the Gulf Coast’s defenses against hurricanes, officials are turning their attention towards hurricane prevention.
Some of the biggest projects include:
- Reservoir Improvements: There are currently 14,000 homes considered to be inside of the Barker and Addicks reservoirs. These reservoirs need major upgrades to keep the homeowners inside the reservoirs safe. With minimal options, there is serious talk of Houston building another reservoir to relieve the Addicks and Barker dams. This project would take billions of dollars, years of time, and thousands of acres of land before it would be accomplished.
- Home Buyouts: After three consecutive hurricane years, Houstonians are sick of dealing with flooded homes. Some unfortunate residents have had their homes flood three times in the past three years. Many residents are banking on the government to buy their property, as the government buying a flood-risk property can actually save money as a result of decreased insurance payouts. While ultimately a good idea, the prospect of the government spending millions of dollars on buyouts is unlikely.
- Ike Dike: A proposed coastal barrier that would sit off the shores of Houston and five other counties, the Ike Dike is a plan that has fallen to the wayside due to the extreme costs. If Texas is granted all the federal aid that it requested, the Ike Dike would cover vulnerable refineries and petrochemical plants. However, the project costs $11 billion and would not help against major rain events.
When Will Displaced Residents Be Allowed to Return Home?
This fourth and final question is the most important to about 11,300 families still looking for permanent housing. This is the number of families currently living in FEMA-funded hotels, so it does not include thousands more who are living with family and friends, who are out camping in tents or RVs, or who are renting apartments and rooms. In fact, there are more than 90,000 claims filed through the National Flood Insurance Program due to Hurricane Harvey. This means tens of thousands of people need immediate help, but it may be many more months before they receive the assistance they so desperately need.
What Are My Options if I Am Waiting on FEMA to Payout My NFIP Insurance Claim?
FEMA can take years to payout NFIP insurance claims. This is probably due to the fact that the program is $6 billion in debt. If you are waiting on an NFIP insurance claim, you could be waiting for a long time. However, Arnold & Itkin can help. Our Hurricane Harvey insurance lawyers expedite the payment process of NFIP and other insurance carriers. Insurance companies do not want to pay their insurance claims, but when they see you hired one of our attorneys, they will have no choice but to payout your claim quickly.
If you want answers to your questions, contact Arnold & Itkin today! Call (888) 400-2101 for a free consultation concerning your insurance claim.