First Harvey victims return home to survey the damage: Thousands are still in shelters and it could take MONTHS for many homes to be livable

Friday, September 1, 2017
By Paul Martin

Hurricane Harvey victims started to return home on Thursday, when flood waters started to recede
The city’s largest shelter had 8,000 people Thursday night, down 2,000 from Wednesday
But figures from the American Red Cross show the number of displaced people is only rising, from 33,000 people Wednesday night to 42,000 people Thursday night
The lucky few who were allowed to return to their homes for good now face a massive clean up
The vast majority could only stop by to assess damage and take a few possessions with them back to the shelters or their temporary housing
For some, it could be months before their homes are livable again

1 September 2017

As Harvey’s floodwaters finally began to recede in Houston on Thursday, thousands of evacuees started to return home to assess the damage.

Some were lucky enough to move back into their homes, but the vast majority could only rifle through the damage for prized possessions and clothes to bring with them back to the shelters.

It’s unclear just how many were able to return home so far, but the city’s largest shelter decreased it’s population by about 2,000 people Thursday night, from 10,000 to 8,000.

The flood damage was strangely inconsistent throughout the city. A house on one street drowned with 4 feet of water while it’s neighbor was left completely dry.

For some people, it could take months before their homes are livable.

Reporters were on hand as some of the Houstonians returned home on Thursday.

Tequoya Stewart-Miller, 30, returned home to find that water had completely flooded the first floor.

She said the home smelled like ‘mildew and death’ and wouldn’t let her younger family members get near it.

‘We had the kids around, we didn’t want them to see,’ she told the New York Times. ‘That’s traumatizing, to see all they used to have.’

Daniel Rawson had a somewhat different experience, since he and his family never even got to sleep in their home.
The family closed on a house in the Norchester neighborhood on August 15 and moved in last Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But the flooding pushed them out before they could even spend a night in the home. The water line on the home went up four feet.

On Thursday, they moved some boxes out of the house and got permission to stay a few more nights at their old house across town.

As floodwaters receded and rescuers searched waterlogged neighborhoods for more potential victims, Houston officials began turning their attention to finding temporary housing for those in shelters and getting enough gasoline for people to fill up cars – but also to the city’s long-term recovery, which will take years and billions of dollars.

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