HOUSTON – The City of Houston received $425 million to help Hurricane Harvey victims repair homes. However, Mayor Sylvester Turner, city council members and others believe it’s hardly enough.
Storm victims like Mary and Charles Wright see little relief in sight. They have no insurance and no more cash to pay contractors.
“That’s when we went on YouTube,” Mary Wright said.
The retired Harris County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher and her husband, a retired trucker use Dollar Store tools to repair their home themselves.
“Well I had nobody else to turn to besides God,” Charles Wright said.
City council accepted millions from FEMA for the agency’s Direct Assistance for Limited Home Repair (DALHR) program. 3,574 people in Harris County qualified, according to the state of Texas.
However, Harvey damaged over 148,000 single-family homes and over 163,000 multi-family units.
DALHR requires victims to not have insurance and have damage between $17,000 and $60,000, according to the city of Houston staff. A spokesman for FEMA told KHOU 11 News that people left out should apply for the relief through one of the agency’s other five programs.
After being denied once, the Wrights hired five contractors using money from their retirement savings. They only have uneven floors and unfinished work to show for it.
“The first (contractor) ran away with my money,” Mary Wright said. “The second one I had to threaten him because he ran away with my money too.”
FEMA eventually sent them $14,000. However, the couple has $17,000 worth of debt.
“I told my husband at one time I wouldn’t wish this on your girlfriend if you had one,” Mary Wright said. It’s just that bad. These people that (FEMA qualified for DAHR found), where are they finding them at? Because they haven’t been over here to look at us. Every house that you look at is going through the same thing.”
So until help arrives, some see no choice except to attempt repairs themselves.
Food and clothing needs remain an issue in the area too. Fellowship of Enlightenment, a church in the area, plans to host a supply drive Sunday.