A Tale Of Two Neighborhoods After Harvey

Two different neighborhoods, on opposite sides of Houston, but many of the same challenges as they recover from Harvey.


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It's been over two months since Harvey, and there are people who are still flooded out of their homes.

One of those people is Candice Watson.

Watson, who owns and runs a spa, lives west of Houston in a subdivision in Cinco Ranch near Barker Reservoir.

Her home is a newish one story, it's been gutted and she has an architect working on the renovation.

Watson says it's costing her a fortune.

"We have not gotten five cents from FEMA yet,” she says. “So all the materials and supplies that it's taken us for us to demolish our home as well as now paying for a second home is coming out of our pocket. Our savings, we've depleted. We are now using credit cards to try to figure our way through this."

30 miles on the opposite side of town James Hert has the same complaint.

Harvey left five feet of water in Hert’s home.

He lives in a somewhat older one story house, and he's still in the process of gutting it himself.

"The only thing FEMA has been doing with me is, well, you need this paperwork and I get that for them,” he says. “Well, you need this paperwork, and you get that for them. Well, it's pending. It's pending. It's pending."

But while Hert faults the feds, he has good things to say about local government.

"The city has done real good about coming and picking up the stuff out here,” he says. “I was really impressed about that. That made me happy, because I had mounds and mounds of stuff out here."

Candice Watson wishes she could say that.

She lives outside the city limits.

"They've just forgotten about us,” Watson says. “You hear about all these organizations like the J.J. Watt fund and all these funds. They're all going to Harris County because Houston is in Harris County. We're in Fort Bend County, so we're a little town outside of Fort Bend and they are just forgetting about us."

At the moment, Watson's home is un-liveable, she renting a place and in limbo and misses her neighborhood.

"We finally wound up signing a one year lease because they wouldn't take anything less and it's a crappy house that I can't wait to get out of because it's not safe for me to walk my dogs around there, there's a lot of thuggish people,” she says. “It is what it is."

James Hert says the same thing.

He's living in a motel that FEMA is paying for, which he says is the good part, but the bad part?

"You know, you have ladies in the evening and drug dealers and everything else around and gang bangers, so you gotta watch your step," Hert says.

For both of them it's not an ideal situation, but Watson says it could be worse like it is for some in her own neighborhood.

"When you wake up and you check your phone and you see one of your neighbors saying, ‘Is anybody else going to bed hungry?' you want to cry," she says. “You just want to cry for those people, so I can't really worry about me too much because I'm able-bodied and we’re hard workers and we know that we'll get through this."

James Hert says he's pretty confident he'll get through this too, but he knows it's gonna be tough.

He's still waiting for FEMA money which could get him back in his house.

That's important because he's a vet who relies on a monthly disability check.

"Twelve hundred dollars a month doesn't go real far, especially when you have to pay all your bills still,” Hert says. “Because I still got to pay insurance. I still have to pay electricity, the water, the gas. All that, I still have to pay it."

Two different neighborhoods, on opposite sides of Houston, but many of the same challenges as they recover from Harvey.

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is the News 88.7 business reporter and also covers criminal justice, guns and shootings.Florian's stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of...

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