Four years later, Texas General Land Office still helping Hurricane Harvey victims

HOUSTON – Just four years ago, Hurricane Harvey left Houston underwater.

Officials are still distributing money to flood victims, and some people are still waiting for new homes to be built.

Helen Bernard, who lives in south Houston in the Sugar Valley Community, said after floodwater damaged her home the Texas General Land Office or GLO stepped in to rebuild it last year.

“I walk around some time and want to slap myself because I don’t think it’s real,” she said.

The 70-year-old said her old home had a lot of problems, and it was time for an upgrade.

“I didn’t have central air. I had window units. I had space heaters for heating. I didn’t have a dishwasher. I have one now. The slab was cracked, and the water would come inside the home,” she said.

Bernard is one of 3,600 Texans who had their home rebuilt by the GLO. The state received about $5.6 billion in recovery funds to help people who suffered. Bernard said the application process was easy.

“They put me in a hotel near the Galleria, and they paid for my storage for 120 days. I had a four-bedroom house, now I have a 2-bedroom house, which is fine it’s just me,” she said.

Heather Lagrone, the Senior Deputy Director for the Disaster Recovery Program for GLO, said the construction could change for some applicants and says there is a lot that goes into the process.

“From HUD’s perspective, you don’t necessarily need a garage to get back in your home and we don’t build a house that you had. We build the house that your family needs. In some instances that means that you get fewer bedrooms and other instances that means you get more bedrooms than you previously had,” Lagrone said.

Lagrone said the GLO still has money for families who need it and had a message to those waiting for their homes to be rebuilt.

“Stick with us. We are working on this information that we’re capturing from you now,” she said.

Bernard said the help came at the perfect time and says her home is prepared for mother nature.

“The Hurricane can come if it wants to. I’m up off the ground,” she said.

The GLO’s Homeowner Assistance Program team can be reached at 346-222-4686 or 1-866-317-1998 (toll-free) or at houston.glo@recovery.texas.gov.

More information about the GLO’s program can be found at recovery.texas.gov/hap/houston.