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Effort to rebuild nursing home in Friendswood is denied

FRIENDSWOOD, Texas – If signs offer an indicator, then the one outside Friendswood Healthcare Center may leave you stumped.

The sign says the facility is reopening in early 2018, but the fencing around an otherwise shuttered facility begs to differ.

"I think it's the responsibility of our government to ensure that we do the best we can to keep our citizens out of harm's way," John Scott said.

Despite the signage, the facility has yet to reopen.

Scott and Steve Rockey, who are both members of the Friendswood City Council, said it's a complicated situation.

"They're about 60 feet from the creek and that creek flooded, putting a significant amount of water into the building on that property," Rockey said.

Officials said the building took on about 4 feet of water, thanks, in part, to Mary Creek, which is directly across the street.

Scott said he was among several who stopped by to help as the creek raged.

"We went down there and checked and, sure enough, every resident was in there with, I think, four nurses and 4 feet of water, sitting in wheelchairs," Scott said.

There were more than 60 residents, officials said.

Those at Friendswood Healthcare Center were gathered and moved to Friendswood High School before being moved to a similar health care facility in Huntsville.

Rebuilding will not be easy because part of the facility isn't on land zoned for multifamily units. Rezoning will be needed.

The Friendswood City Council unanimously rejected the bid made by owners of the facility.

"We voted not to rezone this property because we thought it was a danger for that particular kind of use for people who would have difficulty being taken out after a storm," Rockey said.

According to an inspection report made after Hurricane Harvey, "The facility failed to initiate the evacuation of 68 residents and 12 staff in a timely manner to prevent residents from sitting in floodwater overnight."

The report also said the facility failed to make timely arrangements for buses to transport residents and staff from the facility.