Mayor Sylvester Turner visits Harvey survivors on 1-year anniversary of storm

HOUSTON – On the day of Hurricane Harvey's anniversary, Houston's mayor spent the day visiting Harvey survivors across the city to encourage those residents that help is on the way.

"We're still in this together. We're Houston Strong, and I've just been amazed today by the spirit of Houstonians," said Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Turner visited various Houston neighborhoods, including Kashmere Gardens, Meyerland, Kingwood and Independence Heights, to meet with families whose property flooded during Hurricane Harvey. Some residents have moved back into their homes; repairs on other properties are incomplete.

In Meyerland, Diane and Larry Furst were able to share their story. The Fursts have lived in their home for 32 years. It was paid off two years ago.

"We never flooded before. We lost the house and two cars during Hurricane Harvey," Diane Furst said. "We stayed with friends, and our rebuild is getting going now. It was delayed until we got enough funds. We have flood insurance." 

Their home is freshly dry-walled. Their floors are still rough, but the skeleton home will soon embody their dream home. However, the journey has been costly.

"We always wanted to stay here through our retirement," Diane Furst said. "Initially, the contractors increased their price quotes. Now the prices are normal. So we saved money by waiting. It was also difficult to decide whether to elevate the house, rebuild or build a new house."

The Fursts and their neighbor, Carl Shaw, both got a visit from Turner.

"It means a lot because actions mean more than words -- and that fact that they're here and with the work that they're doing with the bayou teaches us that it makes a difference," Shaw said.
Shaw's home is now ready for any future flood event. His home was designed to have porcelain tile, which would be able to dry with any water, Shaw said. Their wooden walls are detachable with magnets attached to them.

"You can go ahead and put it right back on the wall so it if it floods again, we're going to pull all this wood off and we're going to move it up high," Shaw said.

Turner said he was delighted to see the innovative spirit of the people in Meyerland who love the neighborhood too much to leave, despite Harvey.

The mayor also made his way to Kashmere Gardens.

"You know a lot of people have recovered, moved forward, but there are many, many people who have either just gotten into their homes or waiting into their homes -- still waiting on resources. The goal at the end of the day is to let people know we are here," Turner said.

"Probably some 50% are back in their homes to some capacity, but they're not by any means recovered," said Huey German-Wilson, the director of the Northeast Nextdoor Redevelopment Council.

"There is help coming -- for housing construction, for housing repair, to assist in reimbursing people," Turner said to homeowner Kathy Gabriel, whose home still needed many repairs after Harvey.

The home still had mold, she said. The mayor's visit, Gabriel said, was uplifting.

"It takes a big weight off my shoulder and it shows me there is hope, because it's been a long struggle and really hard trying to juggle with bills," Gabriel said.

These families say the $2.5 billion flood bond is needed.

"The objective and the goal is to mitigate significantly the risk of future flooding," Turner said.

"I support it and I look forward to seeing people using the money to resolve some of the flooding issues," Shaw said.

The mayor also made his way to visit survivors in Kingwood, an area also hard-hit. The mayor also visited the Rebuilding Together Houston, Hurricane Harvey Revitalization Event and Celebration in Kingwood.