HOUSTON – According to a recent survey by the Episcopal Health Foundation and Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half of the Texas residents affected by Hurricane Harvey said they are not getting the help they need to recover from the storm.
Two-thirds of residents across 24 Texas counties said they suffered property damage, employment disruptions and/or lost income due to Harvey.
One in nine residents in the hardest-hit counties remain displaced from their homes three months after the storm.
Meyerland resident Catherine Couturier had been out of the home for renovations.
"We lost pretty much everything we own," Couturier said. "I haven't gotten any insurance money except for the advance which is nothing. I haven't even gotten my proof of loss which is what [insurance thinks] I'm going to get, but I can't keep waiting around. It's been three months, and I have to pay for two sets of bills at this point."
Real problems for families who are trying to rebuild at the same time. Couturier said she is spending money as best she can but she feels it is being spent some-what blindly because she has not seen the FEMA money she knows she is entitled to, and insurance hasn't been in great contact with her.
"I'm just kind of crossing my little fingers, and that's not how I like to live life as a grown woman with two children," Couturier said.
The survey results showed that the storm affected black and Hispanic residents, low-income residents and people living in both the Golden Triangle area, which includes Beaumont, Orange and Port Arthur, and in the coastal area, which includes Rockport and Corpus Christi.
"The conventional wisdom that Texans hit by Hurricane Harvey have recovered is wrong," said Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. "The people in the hardest-hit areas are telling us that they still face major hurdles before their lives return to normal."
Here are some things the survey discovered:
- More than four in 10, or 43 percent, reported that their home was damaged, including about one in five who said their home suffered major damage (16 percent) or was completely destroyed (3 percent). In the Golden Triangle and coastal areas, about six in 10 reported damage to their homes.
- Among those whose homes were affected, about half, or 48 percent, said they had homeowners or renters insurance, and roughly a quarter, or 23 percent, had flood insurance.
- Nearly half of those affected said they or someone else in the household lost job-related income as a result of the storm, in ways that included getting fewer hours at work (32 percent), losing a job entirely (12 percent) or losing income from a small business due to unpaid missed days (32 percent).
- One in five, or 21 percent, said they had a car or other vehicle that was damaged or destroyed.
- Four in 10, or 43 percent, said they do not expect any of their financial losses to be covered by insurance of other assistance.
- Nearly two-thirds, or 64 percent, said more resources are needed in the area.
- About four in 10, or 42 percent, of affected residents said they applied for financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the Small Business Administration.
- Among those who applied, one-quarter, or 26 percent, said their application was approved and one-third, or 33 percent, said they were denied. The remainder said their application is still pending (19 percent) or they are not sure (16 percent).
- Among those who were denied, about four in 10, or 38 percent, said they were not given a reason, and six in 10, or 60 percent, said they were not given information on how to revise and resubmit their application.
- About 13 percent of people said that someone in their household has a new or worsening health condition due to Harvey.
- Aobut six in 10, or 59 percent, said they have skipped or postponed needed medical or dental care, cut back on prescriptions or had difficulty getting mental health care since the storm.
- About 7 percent of affected people said they have increased their alcohol use since Harvey.