This page serves as a regular update for information related to Hurricane Harvey and the 2016 Tax Day flooding events that impacted the Bear Creek community. Following our community forum on September 21,2017 this page will be updated with information from elected officials and the various government agencies who have jurisdiction over the community to help come up with solutions and mitigate future flooding events.

Hurricane Harvey Aftermath

Follow up Q&A's: Bear Creek Community Forum

Thank you for attending the forum at Lee Elementary last week with representatives from FEMA, SBA, Harris County Flood Control District, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Harris County Debris Removal, and the National Flood Insurance Program. My office compiled your questions, which are listed below with answers from the various agencies.
 
Many of the questions surrounded buyouts. As I mentioned at the forum, I support a buyout of the Bear Creek community and some surrounding areas and know that this is an urgent need. I will do whatever I can to support homeowners’ decisions to pursue a buyout and will work with my colleagues in the County, who ultimately will make the decision on which particular homes or areas to buyout (the City makes the decision for incorporated areas). On Tuesday, the Harris County Commissioners Court approved $20 million for the home buyout program. This will help start the process, and according to Commissioner Radack, some homeowners should receive a letter in the mail this week. Going forward, additional funds must come from FEMA to expand the program. Remember, if you would like to be considered for a buyout, you should quickly complete a “Notice of Voluntary Interest Form” from the Harris County Flood Control District.
 
If you have any other questions, please call my office at (281) 446-0242.

GOD and TEXAS,

TED POE
Member of Congress
TEXAS

QUESTIONS RELATED TO FEMA
Q: Please outline the factors that FEMA considers to arrive at grant money. Assume no flood insurance on the structure. What happens when you’re denied by FEMA or SBA? What’s the criteria they used for this?

A: Generally, FEMA considers every application individually, and its assistance is based upon damage and the independent circumstances of that household. There is no list of factors or criteria. If you are denied, or you believe you did not receive adequate aid, please contact my office at (281) 446-0242 for assistance with submitting an appeal.
Q: Does FEMA pay for mold remediation? Are there contractors FEMA uses? Will FEMA pay directly for the service as they are with hotels?

A: FEMA provides financial assistance to individuals through a grant that you can use for your needs. They do not pay contractors or vendors individually. There is no list of approved contractors.
Q: Why does FEMA only pay a certain amount for transitional lodging? We couldn’t find a FEMA participating hotel and stayed in a different one and have to pay out of pocket. If we stayed in a hotel that was not on the approved list, is it reimbursable?

A: Hotel participation in the program is voluntary, and the participating hotels register with FEMA directly. The hotels determine the number of rooms they agree to commit to the Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program. You may be eligible for reimbursement of stays at non-participating hotels, but that reimbursement could also be included in your FEMA grant.

For specific questions on hotels, visit FEMAevachotels.com. If you need additional assistance, please contact my office at (281) 446-0242.
Q: Will hotels be on extension? Does FEMA provide assistance for temporary housing since our insurance does not?

A: Yes, FEMA has extended the Temporary Shelter Assistance (TSA) through October 23. However, applicants only receive this assistance two weeks at a time. At this time, October 10th is the next deadline, and if your home is still unlivable on October 10, you can request an extension. As October 10th gets closer, if you have not heard from FEMA, please contact FEMA, visit a Disaster Recovery Center, or call my office at (281) 446-0242 for more assistance regarding an extension. You can also visit www.FEMAevachotels.com.
Q: How do you correct FEMA information that is wrong? Provided what was asked for and came back 2 days later as ID failure.

A: Call my office at (281) 446-0242 for assistance with reapplying.
Q: Will I get unknown phone calls from FEMA? 

A: If you receive a suspicious phone call, please do not provide them with any personal information. Please note, however, that FEMA inspectors will contact you to schedule an appointment to evaluate damage. FEMA inspectors will have an official photograph badge/ID and will always identify themselves as a FEMA inspector.
Q: Am I eligible for FEMA if I have flood insurance?
 
A: Eligibility is determined irrespective of whether you have insurance.
Q: How long do we have to wait for an inspector to come to our house? How many visits or inspectors should I expect? How long should we expect the claim to take?

A: Nearly 800,000 individuals have registered for FEMA assistance related to Hurricane Harvey.  FEMA has deployed more than 2,000 inspectors to Texas and issued more than 500,000 inspections of homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey, so far.  Due to the magnitude of Hurricane Harvey, it may take up to 30 days or more for a FEMA inspector to contact an applicant and schedule an inspection. As survivors continue in the process of recovery, FEMA recommends the following:
  • Don’t wait to clean up. Take pictures of the damage. Start repairs to make your home safe and livable again or prevent further damage to your property. Save your receipts to show the inspector.
  • Displaced survivors unable to meet an inspector at their damaged home can designate an “Authorized Agent” who can be present during the inspections—such as a trusted neighbor or relative.
  • Both homeowners and renters must provide identification and proof of occupancy—such as a lease, rent receipt or utility bill. Homeowners will also be asked to provide proof of ownership, such as a property deed or title, mortgage payment book, property insurance policy or tax receipts. 
 
If you have flood insurance or private homeowners insurance, your policy may also require an insurance adjustor to do a separate site visit.
Q: Is FEMA a loan?

A: No, FEMA is not a loan. FEMA provides financial assistance through a grant that does not have to be repaid. The funds are not taxable.
Q: Does FEMA provide a detailed report to the homeowner to see how the money was assigned?
 
A: FEMA provides financial assistance based on damage. The individual recipient can make a decision on how best to use that assistance for their needs.
Q: How can a homeowner appeal an amount given by FEMA in an effective manner so more money can be allotted?

A: Yes, a homeowner can appeal the amount authorized by FEMA. If you need assistance with an appeal, please contact my office at (281) 446-0242.
Q: My area/street is listed as inaccessible on FEMA site but is now accessible- when will they be out?

A: Nearly 800,000 individuals have registered for FEMA assistance related to Hurricane Harvey.  FEMA has deployed more than 2,000 inspectors to Texas and issued more than 500,000 inspections of homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey, so far.  Due to the magnitude of Hurricane Harvey, it may take up to 30 days or more for a FEMA inspector to contact an applicant and schedule an inspection. If you have applied for assistance but have not heard from FEMA, you can also call my office at (281) 446-0242 for assistance contacting FEMA on your behalf. We can also notify FEMA when areas become accessible so that they can update their records.
Q: My home is a non-flood zone according to FEMA plan in deed—what are chances of receiving full help/coverage to make repairs to home?
 
A: FEMA grants are not based upon flood plain mapping.
Q: What can we do about wide disparity in FEMA payouts, which range from $8,000-$32,000 for similar impacts?
 

A: If you are unsatisfied with your FEMA assistance, you can file an appeal. Please contact my office at (281) 446-0242, and we can assist you with filing an appeal.
Q: Why can’t I get FEMA help for my rental property?

A: We need more details to answer this question. Please contact my office at (281) 446-0242.
Q: Is FEMA sending emails with multiple choice questions to answer?
 

A: Please contact my office at (281) 446-0242.
Q: What programs can help renters who are now displaced because owners of the rental properties aren’t sure what they’re doing about the home? What programs can help renters who are now displaced because owners of the rental properties aren’t sure what they’re doing about the home?

A:  The below information was published by the City of Houston and may be helpful to displaced renters.
                      
Texas Association of Realtors  
U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Providing disaster relief loans for nonprofits, businesses, and renters • Low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters. • SBA disaster loans can be used to repair or replace the following items damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster: real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, and inventory and business assets
  • https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela
 
My rented property was damaged in the disaster. What are my rights?
  • Most leases have terms that say what happens if the property you're renting is damaged or destroyed by a disaster. Read your lease. If you don’t have a copy, contact your landlord and ask for one. Note: If you don’t have a written lease, your landlord is still legally responsible to repair the property. Tell your landlord as soon as possible about the property damage. Ask what repairs are needed, how long they will take, and if you have to leave the property while the repairs are being done. If your landlord moved because of the disaster, don’t send a rent payment until you are sure that your landlord will receive it. A pending FEMA application doesn’t excuse your obligation to pay rent.
 
Can I terminate my lease because of property damage?
  • It depends on the terms of your lease and the extent of the damage. Read your lease first. If you don’t have a written lease or it doesn’t address disasters, the following laws may apply:
  • A rental property that is totally unusable for residential purposes is considered uninhabitable in its current condition. Either you or your landlord may terminate the lease by giving written notice any time before the repairs are completed. If you had to move, you must still pay rent on the property you left. Try to negotiate a suspension or reduction of rent with your landlord. If you terminate your lease, you are responsible only for pro-rated rent due up until the date you moved out. You will still owe any charges that accrued up to that point, including past-due 31 rent. Make a written, dated request for return of your security deposit with a forwarding address where it is to be sent. If there is damage to the property not caused by the disaster, your landlord can withhold some or all of your deposit to cover it. If your security deposit is withheld, your landlord must provide a written, itemized accounting of the repairs and cost. If your utilities are separate from your lease, call the utility company to shut them off. Give a forwarding address to send a refund of your utility deposit. You are responsible for utilities up to the date they are shut off.
  • A leased property is partially unusable for residential purposes if you can still live there while repairs are being made (unless your lease says otherwise). Your landlord does not have to start repairs until they have received money from the property insurance company to make the repairs. As long as you stay on the property, you must keep paying rent according to your lease. You can ask your landlord to reduce your rent because you are not getting full use of the property. This includes common areas like walkways, pools, parking, and laundry rooms. If your landlord agrees to a temporary rent reduction, get a written, signed agreement. If you can’t agree to a reduction, you can sue your landlord to get a court order for reduced rent while waiting on the repairs to be finished. Does my landlord have to lower my rent if my home is damaged? No. You cannot reduce your rent unless your landlord agrees or your lease gives you that right. Talk to your landlord and work out a deal. If you cannot, then you have the right to file a lawsuit and seek a court order reducing your rent. 
What do I do if I lost my job because of the disaster and can’t pay rent?
  • If you do not pay rent your landlord can give you a notice to move. Your landlord may later file an eviction case against you. If your rent is subsidized by the government, you are entitled to have your part of the rent reduced. You should contact the agency that helps you with your rent to get a reduction. Can my landlord make me move immediately if I can live in my home? No. A landlord can only make you move by giving you a notice telling you to get out by a certain date and then filing a lawsuit after that date. You cannot be evicted without reason. • If your lease is expired, your landlord may be able to force you to move by giving you a 30-day notice.
  • If your landlord locks you out and refuses to give you a key, contact your local justice of the peace. The justice of the peace may order your landlord to immediately unlock your door by signing a “writ of re-entry.”
 
Can my landlord make me move so they can make repairs?
  • If you can still live in the home, you do not have to move until the lease is over. If you have a written lease, it may cover this situation. If not, your landlord can only make you move if your home is not safe to live in. The landlord can move you temporarily while making extensive repairs, but must move you back if your lease is not over.
 
What do I do if I am served with an eviction lawsuit?
  • Carefully read the papers and be sure to show up to tell your side of the story.
  • You have the right to represent yourself. You can also call Lone Star Legal Aid for information or to represent you if you qualify. In some types of eviction cases you can take a friend to help.
  • You have the right to appeal even if you lose in Justice of the Peace Court. 
What do I do if my landlord does not refund my security deposit or pre-paid rent?
  • Wait until 30 days after you gave the landlord your new address in writing. Then you can contact legal aid for help.
 
For free or low-cost assistance with renter’s rights issues, contact:
Lone Star Legal Aid: (713) 652-0077
Houston Volunteer Lawyers: (713) 228-0732 You can also get help from a private attorney. Find one through the Texas State Bar:https://www.texasbar.com/findalawyer/
 
To contact the City of Houston Fair Housing Office Staff:
Fair Housing Hotline: (832) 394-6240 http://www.houstontx.gov/housing/tenant_law_call.html 
 
For free services, contact the Greater Houston Fair Housing Center (GHFHC):
(713) 641-3247
2626 South Loop West Ste 406, Houston, TX, 77054 http://www.greaterhoustonfairhousingcenter.cfsites.org  
 
Contact the GHFHC for free services if you feel that you have been discriminated in housing. Discrimination is prohibited in the rental, sale, financing, appraisal, and insurance of housing. This means that you should not be treated differently in any way based on the protected classes of: Race, Color, National Origin, Religion, Sex, Familial Status, and Physical/Mental Ability.
 
To request mediation with a landlord before a lawsuit, contact: The Dispute Resolution Center (713) 755-8274 Harris County Annex 21, 49 San Jacinto, Suite 220, Houston, TX 77002 https://drc.harriscountytx.gov/en-usa/Pages/Default.aspx 
 
While there is no guarantee that the landlord will comply, the Dispute Resolution Center helps tenants to file complaints with the Justice of the Peace courts. For more information on tenant rights, please visit: The Attorney State General’s Office website at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cpd/tenant-rights
 
Other important information:
FEMA may authorize Critical Needs Assistance (CNA) to individuals and households who, as a result of the disaster, are displaced from their dwelling for at least 7 days. CNA is a fixed amount of $500 in accelerated disaster assistance provided to eligible individuals and households that may be used for life-savings and/or life sustaining items such as, but not limited to, water, food, first aid, prescriptions, infant formula, diapers, personal hygiene, and fuel for transportation. Applicants must register with FEMA and assert that they have critical needs and request financial assistance for those needs and expenses. Applicants’ pre-disaster primary residence must be located in a geographic area that is designated for CNA and occupancy will be verified.
QUESTIONS RELATED TO BUY-OUTS
Q: When will we find out if we qualify for a buyout? Does having flood insurance affect how much money you will be offered? What will be the timing for the buyouts of houses? When will the houses to be bought out be determined? If we are chosen to be bought out, how long will the process take? If we are chosen for a buyout, how much would they pay? Is it the HCAD value? When does FEMA decide the funding assistance to give to HCFCD- need to know timeline? I was in contract to sell and do not have flood insurance- do I qualify for a buyout? How long will it take for the Property Acquisition Department to respond to each notice of Voluntary Interest form?
 
A: For areas within Harris County, buyouts will be handled by the Harris County Flood Control District. On September 26, the Harris County Commissioners Court approved $20 million to start the buyout process for some properties. The process can take many months. It is advisable to begin remediation on your home as soon as possible because it is unknown which homes will be ultimately selected for a buyout. Congress recently passed a $15 billion funding package for hurricane affected states, of which $7 billion was included specifically for Texas.  Not all of this money will go towards buyouts, but some of it can be used for that purpose if a local government entity chooses to do so and applies for the funds.
Q: What happens if we don’t want to sell?
 
A: Unless your property is condemned by the county, you will not be forced to sell.
Q: Do we start rebuilding if we’re interested in a buyout? When will Bear Creek resident know to either try to rebuild or that they will be bought out? If you have NFIP but are interested in a buyout- why should we spend the money to repair? 
 
A: This is a tough question, and I realize this is a very difficult decision. No house should assume it will receive a buyout. Of course you must do what is best for you and your family, but if you want to pursue a buyout, you are encouraged to move forward with remediation in the interim. Be sure to register with the Harris County Flood Control District and complete the Notice of Voluntary Buyout.
Q: We’ve flooded 3 times and FEMA says we have to rebuild to be eligible for a buyout. Is this true?
 
A: FEMA does not determine which individual homes are eligible for a buyout. That decision is made by the Harris County Flood Control District for homes located within unincorporated Harris County. The Harris County Flood Control District can determine their own criteria for any buyout. It must be emphasized that buyouts are not guaranteed and you should make whatever decision is best for you and your family.  There may however be additional requirements on a property that has flooded multiple times in order to receive flood insurance.  We encourage you to inquire directly with NFIP to answer these questions. 
Q: If we rebuild through the money from our insurance claim and then are bought out, will we still receive the full “fair market value” of our home?
 

A: If you are home is deemed eligible for a buyout, the Harris County Flood Control District will be the entity that determines the price paid for your home.
Q: If we are bought out, is our lot also purchased? Rumors say no. Will the buyout price be on pre-flood home value or post-flood home value? How is the buyout value determined? What happens to homes once they are bought out? What happens to the homes left around them that weren’t? Do you have to be the original homeowner “during / before” Harvey to qualify for a buyout? Or if you “invest” in a  flooded home and then there is a buyout can you as the “new” owner get the money from the buyout?  What’s the difference between voluntary and involuntary buyouts? Are involuntary buyouts being considered? What happens if I rebuild and then the buyout process happens? Will there be a mandatory buyout? If there are plans to repair the reservoir that will negatively affect my home, could I qualify for a buyout?
 

A: At this point, these determinations have not been announced. Those kinds of decisions will be made by the Harris County Flood Control District.
Q: How many homes in Bear Creek have been bought out by HCFCD / FEMA / ACE in the past?

A: FEMA and the Corps of Engineers do not buy out homes directly. Buyouts are done through the County for all homes located in unincorporated Harris County.
 
Since the HCFCD voluntary buyout program began in 1985, over 2,075 structures have been purchased with FEMA grants, and over 960 properties (with and without structures; 65% with) with HCFCD funds. There are no specific numbers on the Bear Creek community.
Q: How can we relocate without stacking loan on loan if we just bought this home that took on 4 feet of water? Since buyouts are in the distant future, how does a low income family pay for two residences without flood insurance?

A: You are encouraged to apply for FEMA assistance (a grant) and a low-interest SBA loan to help you recover.
 Q: Will the county / state be requesting additional funds for home buyouts?

A: Yes. On September 26, 2017, the Harris County Commissioners Court approved $20 million for home buyouts. Congress recently passed a $15 billion funding package for hurricane affected states, of which $7 billion was included specifically for Texas.  Not all of this money will go towards buyouts, but some of it can be used for that purpose if a local government entity chooses to do so and applies for the funds. We expect additional federal funds to be appropriated in the coming weeks.
Q: When you say “prioritize” for buyouts – does this mean homes downstream closer to Buffalo Bayou?
 

A: No. The language would prioritize buyouts for those homes that have suffered multiple flooding incidents over the past few years.
Q: How do I verify that HCFCD has my buyout request? I’ve never received confirmation like the hand out says.
 
A: Call them directly at (713) 684-4000.
 Q: Do I need flood insurance to qualify for a buyout? If we don’t have flood insurance, are we disqualified from the buyout program?
 
A: No, flood insurance and a buyout are separate.
Q: I filled out an online application. Do I have to do a paper one, too?
 
A: I am assuming you are asking about a buyout or for FEMA assistance. For either one, the answer is no.
Q: Does it impact the compensation of buyout if permit is still open?
 
A: I need more details to answer this question. Please call (281) 446-0242 for assistance.
QUESTIONS RELATED TO HARRIS COUNTY
Q. I live in unincorporated Harris County – do we need a permit to fix our home? Been told three answers:
1.         Permit is mailed
2.         Permit is pending
3.         Inspector coming to assess
 
Do we need a permit from Harris County to start sheetrock and flooring repairs inside our home? How long can a permit stay open? Do we need a permit from Harris County to start sheetrock and flooring repairs inside our home? How long can a permit stay open?

 
How long does it take to receive our building permit in order to begin the rebuild? If I have a permit from last year’s Tax Day Flood and have not closed it, is it okay to use it now? What is the information about the inspections the county is requiring before rebuilding? What’s the timeline?

A: For all permit-related questions, please call (713) 274-3880 or visit http://www.eng.hctx.net/hcrdda.
Q: Who is responsible for zoning?

A: In unincorporated Harris County, Harris County is responsible for all land use.
Q: How long will you continue to allow building in West and Northwest Harris County before you realize that there are not enough tributaries to handle the water run-off and that the current ones need dredging? Why aren’t homes that had 4 feet of standing water just going to be condemned? What is keeping Horsepen Creek from draining? Is debris pick up and sand bar clearing around Addicks scheduled? If a person just walks away from their home, what becomes of the house?

A: These determinations are made at the County level and any concerns, questions, complaints, and/or recommendations should be addressed to your County Commissioner.
Q: When HC is doing the rounds of debris cleanup- do they do the first round in all subdivisions before they start some subdivisions second and third rounds? What are we going to do about slow trash pick-up? When will toxic waste be cleaned up from streets and yards? The flooding caused sewage to back up. How to determine if waste / sewer water is out of the house and its safe? When will Langham Creek and South Mayde Creek be cleaned up?

A: There will be three rounds of debris cleanup. Harris County is approximately halfway done with the first round of cleanup. Once they finish the first round, they will begin the second round.
Q: Will there be requirements to elevate the home? Can Harris County require the homes to be elevated when rebuilding?

A: These decisions have not been announced and will be made by the County. 
Q: How does the “increased cost of compliance” work?

A: I am not sure what this question concerns. Please call my office at (281) 446-0242.
Q: What direct impact will Highway 6 and the Clay Road expansion project have on the homes in BCV?

A: The City, which controls Clay Road, has not announced a decision regarding any expansion or improvement projects. Once a decision is made, my office will post information regarding it.
Q: The building codes from 1976 (year home was built) are different than today’s. Who pays for the differences to meet today’s codes. For example- old structure weather barrier was sheetrock, damaged due to water and had to be removed, and HOA  requires a minimum of 55% brick?

A: An individual homeowner is responsible for meeting their HOA requirements.
Q: What is being done about the security and safety of our neighborhoods where most people aren’t in their homes? People are going through trash.

A: Now that the neighborhoods are accessible, Harris County Sheriff’s Department is working regular patrols and the County is also continuing its debris removal. If you have concerns regarding suspicious individuals, call 911.
Q: What is the process for proper mold remediation according to the State of Texas and the county?

A: For information from the Texas Department of Public Safety, please visit http://www.dps.texas.gov/dem/documents/hurricanes/dr1780_mold.htm

For information from FEMA, please visit https://www.fema.gov/removing-mold-your-home
QUESTIONS RELATED TO INSURANCE (NFIP AND PRIVATE)
Q: Is there any action to insist homeowner insurance to pay the content insured? They declined to pay or honor damages to personal insurance due to flood. When the damage to a home is greater than 50% of the total value of the structure, at what point is the home declared a total loss and required to be torn down? Who ultimately makes the decision if the house needs to be torn down or raised? If we take our insurance payment, sell our home as is, and buy another home, how does that affect insurance coverage on the newly bought home? Could we be penalized for not having made compensated repairs to the previous home? Who ultimately makes the decision if the house needs to be torn down or raised? Is it true that if you flood from water released from Reservoir that flood insurance will not cover it? It has to be from the storm? Can I take the insurance money and walk away? If we do not rebuild are we in default of flood insurance requirements?

A: The terms of private insurance policies may vary, and each policy will outline what is covered and what is required on the insured. For questions related to coverage, please contact your private insurance carrier. Questions related to what is required of private insurance carriers should be directed to the Texas Department of Insurance, https://www.tdi.texas.gov, as these issues are handled at the state level.
Q: What is going on with the flood maps? When will they be updated? Will the flood plain be redrawn? Is the measurement for flooding areas obsolete? 100 year, 500 year floods have become common. Are the current designations realistic? Are the models accurate? Why is the HCFCD 1996 report that stated all homes in the max pool are at risk of flooding from significant rain events or natural disasters not included in the flood maps? Why is Bear Creek not in a flood zone if it’s in a reservoir?

A: FEMA is working on updating their flood maps. Data from this storm will be used in the redrawn maps. At this point, a timeline is not yet known.
Q: Will flood insurance rates rise if this is your second flood in a 100 yearzone? 500 year zone?

A: Insurance rates are based on risk, so most likely, yes, flood insurance rates will rise.
QUESTIONS RELATED TO SBA
Q: I have been denied, why?
 
A: The letter provided by SBA will list the reasons for the denial. If you would like to appeal the denial, please contact my office at (281) 446-0242
Q: I have been denied an SBA loan since I did not make enough money last year, have no insurance, lost home and business equipment, what should I do? If ineligible for home repair and the SBA loan- what will the next step be?

A: You can appeal the denial for reconsideration. To do so, please contact my office at (281) 446-0242. You can also directly contact nonprofits and private organizations that have raised money to help with Harvey. Those organizations will make their own decisions regarding payments.
Q: Does SBA help me rebuild my rental properties I own?

A: SBA provides loans for businesses and homeowners and makes decisions on an individual basis. Everyone is encouraged to apply; SBA loans can be declined.
Q: If your home was flooded and you apply for an SBA loan, do you have to rebuild or relocate here on the Texas Gulf Coast? Or can you build and relocate somewhere else?

A: If you are eligible for a loan, SBA will provide the parameters for use of the funds.
Q: We took out a cash out refinance 6-8 months before the flood to remodel our house, partly to accommodate wife’s mother moving in. Will the SBA consider incorporating this loan into any loan they offer us?

A:  This depends on the loan that you receive from SBA.  We encourage you to apply and explore the options available to you.  
Q: Can you apply for an SBA loan if you have flood insurance? Does it lessen / negate the flood insurance policy at all?

A: Yes, you can apply for an SBA loan if you have flood insurance. No, it does not lessen your flood insurance policy. We encourage all individuals – homeowners and business owners – to apply.
Q: Can an SBA loan be used for other expenses (besides reconstruction) during the recovery process?

A: Yes, SBA loans can be used for disaster-related needs. Contact the SBA for specific details.
Q: Is there any relief for SBA loans from previous floods. If I take on another loan, I will be significantly under.

A: You are encouraged you to apply for another SBA loan, and SBA will determine your eligibility.
Q: I was desperate and got a loan from a bank and want to know if SBA can help pay the loan in case FEMA does not help.

A: You should apply to SBA first to determine if you are eligible for an SBA loan and then if you are deemed eligible, you should speak with them about the terms of your loan. Call my office if you have further questions at (281) 446-0242.
Q: Do we have to apply for an SBA loan to have our FEMA claim considered?

A: No, but you are strongly encouraged to also apply for an SBA loan, which can be declined.
QUESTIONS RELATED TO ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
Q: What plans does the ACOE have to prevent or better handle future flood occurrences? Are they going to deepen the reservoir?  What is the likelihood of BCV flooding again?
Who made the call to release the water on Clay Road and Addicks, why was it not considered to be rerouted if they knew it would flood our homes? Why did the ACOE not work on the Addicks Reservoir after the Tax Day floods? What was done in between the Tax Day flood and Harvey for the Reservoir? What statute gives the ACOE the authority to raise Dam water elevations beyond their boundary’s elevations?  What is the logic that ACOE uses in managing the flow in/out of the reservoirs? Would flooding in BC be stopped or reduced with improvements in drainage or by making changes to the Addicks levee system? What are the plans to mitigate future deposits of soil into the Addicks Reservoir? Why is there not a dam all the way around the government-owned part of the reservoir? Are there plans to build another reservoir? Determines decision to rebuild or not. Will there be a drainage plan created for NW Harris County? Will there be funds allocated to the proposed 3rd dam project? What is the capacity of the Addicks Reservoir? What is the flow rate of the creeks that feed Addicks at full flow? How many days of full flow can Addicks handle? How did Twin Lakes flood? Was it the release on Monday night or was it spillage from the Reservoir? What is the planning process that allowed our home (bought in 1980) to become located in a reservoir pool? Are we a Plan B for storing water?

A: There are serious questions related to the Army Corps of Engineers and decisions that were made regarding the release of water and the process for notification. The Bear Creek community and surrounding area needs and deserves answers. Unfortunately, due to multiple pending lawsuits, the Corps. will not answer some of these questions outside of the legal system. I believe you need answers. That’s why on Monday, September 25, I introduced the bipartisan Texas Flood Accountability Act, which will mandate that the Army Corps of Engineers submit a report to Congress within 90 days for all dams, reservoirs, lakes and other water retention facilities in Texas that describes:
  1. The minimum water capacity that would necessitate a unplanned water release 
  2. The water level that the facility would “top out” or overflow 
  3. Existing plans in place to notify first responders, local officials, and communities of flood emergencies and projected water levels during such emergencies
  4. Recommendations for infrastructure improvements and dredging for covered facilities needed to prevent future unplanned releases of water
  5. Existing plans to coordinate among regional facilities during a flooding emergency 
The legislation would require information to be provided from the San Jacinto River Authority which operates Lake Conroe, the City of Houston which operates Lake Houston, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers which operates Addicks and Barker reservoirs. It is high time that the people of Texas are given answers. While 50 inches of rain will substantially impact any city, the people of Texas are left wondering what improvements to existing facilities could have prevented some of the severe flooding that occurred. We cannot move forward until we figure out exactly what went wrong and whether it can happen again. We must not only improve our existing infrastructure but take the steps necessary to build one or even two additional reservoirs. The Texas Flood Accountability Act will give Texans affected during Harvey answers to these questions and help them to move forward with the recovery process.
 
These are all questions that are currently being asked by officials at every level of government. This is why I introduced the Texas Flood Accountability Act. And these questions are why many are looking to the Corps to undertake a large scale infrastructure study. We are working to obtain federal funds for such a largescale project. Some of the questions related regarding additional reservoirs, extended reservoir, etc., may be some of the options that are looked at.
Q: Addicks Reservoir’s top of levee elevation is 110 feet. Will the county / Army Corps incorporate all property (business and residential) below 110 feet into the Addicks Reservoir? Seems like the right thing to do.

A: This type of decision would involve buyouts of some homes. That decision would be made by the Harris County Flood Control District for homes located in unincorporated Harris County.
Q: Why were homes allowed to be built in the flood plain of the Addicks Reservoir?
 
A: With Houston’s rapid growth over the past few decades, decisions were made to expand housing into previously undeveloped areas.
Q: Why weren’t the reservoirs drained prior to Harvey since a lot of rain / water was expected?
A: At last week’s forum, the Corps stated that the reservoirs were considered “dry” or empty prior to Harvey.
Q: My understanding of the release of water from Addicks Reservoir was that the flooding that resulted from it was all south of I-10 or within a few hundred feet north of I-10. Is this correct?
 
A: We do not have enough information to determine if this is true.
Q: How does someone get involved / stay up to date with ACOE or HCFCD in order to be aware of future plans to prevent flooding and make sure something happens?

A: My office will provide regular updates for those who have subscribed. I believe the process for notification needs to be improved, and I have introduced legislation that would require the Corps, City, and other local agencies that control waterways to improve their public notification process.
Q: Which elected official is “boss” over ACOE? Is it Ed Emmett?
 
A: There are several. The Galveston District of the ACOE reports to the US Army Corps of Engineers’ headquarters. Congress (House and Senate), the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of Defense, and the President all have jurisdiction over the ACOE.
OTHER QUESTIONS
Q: Was there a mandatory evacuation for Bear Creek Village? If not, why?
 
A: Yes. These decisions are handled by Harris County.
Q: Was there a mandatory evacuation for Cinco Ranch/Canyon Gate? Why/Why not?

A: Yes. These decisions are handled by Fort Bend County (Not in the 2nd Congressional District).
Q: Why did we flood after the hurricane was in Beaumont?
 
A: Unfortunately, because the reservoirs were deemed full or at capacity and water was released. We are still working to find out exactly what happened and why.
Q: How do I re-coop all the money I put into my home now that it’s been devalued?

A: Unfortunately, this is a very difficult situation. I encourage you to file with both FEMA and the SBA to help you get back on your feet.
Q: How are funds that were raised to assist flood victims distributed?

A: Each private, nonprofit organization that received donations to help flood victims determine how to spend those funds. For specific questions, you should contact that organization.
Q: Still not getting mail – how to fix this.

A: Contact my office at (281) 446-0242. We will ask you to complete a required “Privacy Release Form” and then will contact the USPS on your behalf.
Q: Lawsuit – does this have any specifics for BCV?

A: All questions related to the various lawsuits should be directed to the attorneys or parties involved. My office is not involved with the lawsuits.
Q: Who authorized the permits for Bear Creek subdivision to be originally built after the Army Corps of Engineers advised against it? Who can officially condemn homes that were underwater for 2 weeks?

A: The County is responsible for all permitting and condemnations.
Q: Have heard we should bring a qualified inspector come to our home, as it is beneficial if we decide to sell. The estimates are $1000-2000. Is this recommended? Will assistance be provided for this?
 
A: I know this is a difficult process, but you have to make the best decision for you and your family.
Q: I moved too far away to work- is there any compensation?

A: Until September 27, individuals can apply for disaster unemployment benefits through the Texas Workforce Commission’s Unemployment Benefit Services. For more information, call 1-800-939-6631, Monday - Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm.
Q: Can we get a property tax abatement for 2017 and 2018?
 

A: The County is responsible for this decision. If an announcement is made, my office will send it out to the community.
Q: If I sell my home “as is” can I still collect FEMA money from claim?
 
A: I encourage you to apply to FEMA to determine if you are eligible for assistance.

Other information:
The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) offers short-term food assistance benefits to families affected by a disaster. D-SNAP offers a one-time benefit for food assistance to families recovering from a disaster. The amount is equal to two months of the maximum amount of SNAP benefits, based on household size. It is designed to help when people return to their homes and have access to electricity and grocery stores. It is only available for those who were not receiving regular SNAP benefits at the time of the disaster. Benefits are issued via an electronic benefit transfer card, called a Lone Star Card, which you can use to purchase food at any SNAP-authorized retailer. To apply, visit YourTexasBenefits.com or call 2-1-1 (1-877-541-7905) and select Option 2.

Hurricane Harvey Update

The situation in Bear Creek is completely unacceptable and hazardous. The community is still under a boil water notice and has sewer restrictions. Bear Creek residents have faced continual flooding issues for years and their community has been devastated by Harvey. I support Bear Creek homeowners’ request for buyouts and am working to secure federal legislative language to help facilitate this process in the next hurricane supplemental legislation. The goal is to prioritize funds to pay for buyouts of properties that have been flooded at least 2 times in the past 3 years.   

If this language is included, it would make buyouts for these properties a high priority for funding, although properties that have flooded less could still be eligible depending on decisions and criteria made at the local level.  This community has suffered enough, and this legislation would help prioritize buyouts to help them recover and move on from Harvey’s devastation.  In the interim, I am working with county and city officials to restore services to this area and stand ready to assist in any way possible. 
 
If you live in the areas surrounding Addicks and Barker reservoirs and are interested in a federal buyout of your home, please ­­fill out this form here: 
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/hcfcdvoluntaryhomebuyoutprogram

2017 Flooding Information

May 30, 2017 Update

Last year, the Bear Creek area experienced extensive flooding. I understand the community’s frustrations and am writing to update you on recent developments and some progress that has been made. 

Recent Updates
Engineers have determined that the Langham Creek area is higher than the flowline of Langham Creek Tributary. This is the primary reason that the tributary cannot drain dry, causing long-term sediment build up in Langham Creek. The project team will begin conducting additional surveys on Langham Creek to determine how far downstream Harris County Flood Control District would need to remove sediment to achieve positive drainage.
 
A detailed review of the Horsepen Creek survey data and Langham Creek Tributary has been completed as well as the development of design model surfaces. This will allow the engineers to begin developing the construction plans, plot channel cross sections and complete engineering calculations for the proposed projects.  

Next Steps
In the next few months at least 50% of the design plan for Horsepen Creek and the surrounding tributaries are scheduled to be completed. In addition, the Harris County Flood Control District will continue to work with the Army Corps of Engineers on the Langham Creek Tributary to resolve access road issues and set a clear plan moving forward.

Addicks Reservoir
Work is progressing at Addicks Reservoir as well.  My office recently checked on the repairs and was happy to see that progress was being made.  

Crews are busy constructing large concrete blocks on site to be used for flood control and erosion control at Barker Dam.    
Work is well under way on the construction of a new channel out of Addicks reservoir Primary Evacuation. 
I will continue to keep you and the community updated as more information is received.

April 10, 2017 Update

Dear Neighbors,
I’m writing to provide another update on what is being done to address the extensive flooding that the Bear Creek community experienced last year. I understand the communities’ frustrations and while a final resolution to the floodings has not been achieved, progress is being made. 

Recent Events
The Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) has finished surveying the Horsepen Creek area and the survey work on Bear Creek has been completed from Greenhouse Rd to Old Greenhouse. Further work on the tributaries is expected to be completed by the end of April. The survey work has been field verified by the engineering firm that has been commissioned to develop a desilting design. Additional drawings of proposed channel improvements are expected by May 15th.
 
The engineers have begun detailed surface modeling for the Horsepen Creek and the surrounding tributaries. The engineers are now preparing the first draft of proposed channel improvements for this area. Additionally, HCFCD has developed several alternatives for access road routes and preliminary cost estimates for each alternative route.

 

Next Steps
In the following weeks, HCFCD will complete the survey of Bear Creek and the engineers will field verify the results. They will then prepare the first draft of construction drawings and submit these drawings for review.

I will keep the community informed on all progress as we move forward.

March 14th, 2017 Update

I’m writing to provide another update on what is being done to address the significant flooding that the Bear Creek community experienced last year. I appreciate meeting with the Bear Creek Community last fall and share your frustrations. While a resolution to this problem has not come as fast as any of us would like, as your Congressman I want to keep you informed and up to date about the progress that has been made so far. 

 

Recent Events

The Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) has finished surveying the Horsepen Creek area. The data that has been gathered is being sent to an engineering firm who will begin development of a desilting design. The field survey for Langham Creek tributary and Bear Creek began on February 28thand should be completed shortly. The surveys gathered information about topography and other factors important to the desilting project and will help HCFCD evaluate various alternatives for repairing and maintaining the channels.

 

Next Steps

The surveys are projected to reach completion shortly and will allow for design work to begin shortly thereafter in the Spring For more information from the HCFCD on this project, please click here: Addicks & Barker Reservoir De-Silt Project

In Congress

The National Flood Insurance Program is a top priority for the Second District and must be reauthorized by September. The relevant committees in Congress are beginning to work on this reauthorization. While this program is pivotal to communities that are at a flood risk, it is currently $24.6 billion in debt. To remain financially viable, the flood insurance program must be restructured.

Congress is working on a solution, and the preliminary plans allow private insurers greater and easier access to the marketplace, easing some of the financial burdens. Currently, private flood insurers have very limited market access. These private insurers are not treated the same as the National Flood Insurance Program especially when it comes to mortgage qualifications and other issues. Provisions to address these market access issues are currently under review as part of the reauthorization process.

I will keep the community informed on all progress as we move forward.

January 31, 2017 Update

I’m writing to provide another update on what is being done to address the significant flooding that the Bear Creek community experienced last year. I know the frustration your community is feeling and while a resolution to this problem has not come as fast as any of us would like, as your Congressman I want to keep you informed and up to date about the progress that has been made so far.

The Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) has formed a project team and begun surveying the Horsepen Creek area. They are focused on what can be done to ensure that increased development to the west and northwest of Bear Creek does not increase flooding in the future. On January 24, they also began conducting surveys, and survey crews will be out along the pilot project channels gathering information about topography and other factors important to the project. These surveys will help the Flood Control District evaluate various alternatives for repairing and maintaining the channels.
In addition, the Flood Control District hired the firm of Western Group Consultants to obtain survey data. This will take approximately 2-3 months to complete the work, weather permitting. The goal of this project, which was authorized by the Harris County Commissioners Court, is to determine the impact of the Tax Day flood impacts on the condition of the channels that carry storm water out of surrounding neighborhoods and into the federal reservoirs.

For more information regarding the Harris Country Flood Control District’s progress, please click here. In addition, the City of Houston has begun conducting additional technical analyses done on the hydraulics of the Clay Road Bridge opening. This analysis will address head losses through the Clay Road Bridge opening.

I will keep the community informed on all progress as we move forward.

2016 Flooding Information

Following our community town hall on October 25, 2016, this section contains information from elected officials and the various government agencies who have jurisdiction over the Bear Creek community to help come up with solutions and mitigate future flooding events.

Meeting with Mayor Turner


Last Wednesday, I was pleased to meet with Mayor Turner and his staff to discuss the Bear Creek community’s concerns with flooding. We discussed what we can do to work with the City of Houston to improve water flow under Clay Road/Langham Creek intersection.  Mayor Turner was supportive of the community’s concerns and agreed to prioritize the area among his flood mitigation projects. I asked that he help to quickly get an engineering analysis conducted to determine the best and most practical engineering solutions to make modifications to the bridge and/or road in that area. I will continue to work with Mayor Turner and his office and appreciated his desire to help the community. I will keep the community informed on all progress as we move forward.

Langham Creek/ Clay Road

Many Bear Creek residents expressed their concerns that when Clay Road was rebuilt and raised not enough channels were installed under the road to get the water to the other side. They stated Clay Road is acting as a dam and consequently, increases flooding in the neighborhood.  There is particular concern that the bridge over Langham Creek is too low and not enough water can flow underneath it.  Many residents expressed their belief that there is a direct correlation between the engineering of the road and the prevalence of recent flooding events. 

The City of Houston has indicated that they are willing to begin a study of the engineering regarding the bridge.  If this analysis can confirm that the bridge is in fact creating a hazard, the City will work to fix the issue.   

Action Items

  1. Congressman Poe will work with the Mayor of Houston, the Mayor’s “Flood Czar” Stephen Costello and other local officials to quickly confirm the engineering of the bridge and push the City to make the needed repairs as soon as possible. 
  2. Congressman Poe is exploring whether or not repairs/rebuilding of Clay Road could be eligible for a federal FEMA Hazard Mitigation grant.  These grants go to projects that seek to mitigation damage from natural disasters like flooding. If we can confirm that Clay Road is a contributing factor to the flooding, then this could be a possible option to provide funding for the repair project.    

Development Issues/ Inadequate Infrastructure

Many residents expressed concern about what can be done to ensure that increased development to the west and northwest of Bear Creek does not cause increased flooding in the future.   The concern is that increased development upstream is causing increased water to flow into the Bear Creek area, and there is inadequate infrastructure to get all of this water through the neighborhood and into the reservoir. 

The Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) explained that there is a mandate for all new developments to have adequate green space and retention ponds.   HCFCD is conducting a large scale de-silting analysis and project in the vicinity around Bear Creek that will help move more water through the channels and help keep water out of the community along with clearing brush and overgrown vegetation.

Action Items

  1. Congressman Poe will continue to work with county officials and HCFCD to facilitate this process.  

Possible Buy Outs?

Bear Creek residents who have experienced one or more flooding events asked for more information on the FEMA buy out process, why the community is currently not eligible, and what steps would need to be taken in order to make it eligible.

A representative from FEMA explained that it does not decide whether or not a community (or particular sections of a larger community) are eligible for a buy-out.  This decision is made by local entities.  In Bear Creek, the local entity best suited to make such an application would be the HCFCD.  HCFCD can then apply for a grant but this application does not guarantee that it will be accepted.   Because there are disadvantages to pursuing the buy-out process, the community needs to work together to come to a consensus on this option.  Buying out streets or areas of Bear Creek will mean that these houses will be torn down and will no longer be contributing to the tax base or the HOA of the area.   Removal of these homes may also negatively affect the property values of surrounding homes.   

Action Items

  1. Should the community come to a consensus that they would like to pursue this option, Congressman Poe will work with the community, HCFCD and FEMA to guide them and support them throughout the process.   

Addicks Reservoir / Diversion to Houston

Many residents expressed concerns about the Addicks Reservoir and its stated purpose of protecting Houston and areas down Buffalo Bayou.  Specifically, the residents want to understand how much water was let out of the reservoir during the flooding event and whether or not deepening and infrastructure improvements at the reservoir and dam could allow it to hold more water, allow greater flows into the Bayou, and thus mitigate flooding in a future rain event.

The Corps of Engineers explained that Rivers and Harbors Act of 1938 authorizes Addicks reservoir and states that the primary purpose of reservoir is to prevent flooding in the City of Houston. The Corps is limited by this law to how much water they can put through the dam and down the Bayou. 

It is unlikely that this law will be changed given the large number of residents and commercial property that exists down the Bayou from the reservoir.  It would also be a very slow process as the law would have to be changed by another law that passed both chambers of Congress and was signed into law by the President.

However, short of altering the intended purpose of the reservoir, we can immediately work with the Corps to ensure that the reservoir functions more effectively, holds more water, and is much less likely to flood the Bear Creek neighborhood again.  The first step in doing this is to fund a section 216 study which looks at the entire reservoir and determines the most effective actions to take to improve the operations of the facility.

Action Items

  1. In order to address these concerns, Congressman Poe will do all that he can to ensure that the Corps of Engineers works on ways to allow Addicks Reservoir to hold more water so that it will not flood the surrounding neighborhoods in a future flooding event. 
  2. Congressman Poe will request the appropriators in the House of Representatives to fully fund a Section 216 study for Addicks that will aim to improve the capacity of the reservoir and the infrastructure surrounding the facility in mid-November when Congress returns to session.  Congressman Poe will also seek the support of our Senators to support this study in Senate legislation.

Sewer Clogging

A few residents requested an update on what has been done since the flooding event to clean out and improve flow of waters in the sewer system in Bear Creek.  Many residents observed water coming out back through the system during the event.

The sewers in the Bear Creek area are maintained and operated by the local MUD.  Residents are encouraged to contact their local MUD directly to express their concerns.

Floodplain Issues

A number of Bear Creek residents requested information on what floodplain the community is in and whether the mapping should be modified given the recent flooding events. 

The flood map is maintained by FEMA, but it is based on data provided by HCFCD.  There are advantages and disadvantages for a community to be included in the 100 year flood plain.  Inclusion in the 100 year flood plain will make flood insurance more expensive but could also make obtaining FEMA buy-outs more likely. 

Action Items

  1. Congressman Poe will support the community if there is a consensus to move forward with the process of attempting to obtain FEMA buy outs and attempting to update the flood map. Then, Congressman Poe will support such an action and will work with HCFCD and FEMA to make such a request.  

Future Planning

For residents who do not currently have flood insurance, please contact FEMA at 800-621-3362. 

https://www.fema.gov/information-property-owners

Bear Creek Case Work

Individual Casework – Need Help with FEMA?

If you were affected by the spring flooding events and are having trouble getting assistance with a federal agency, please contact my office at (281) 446-0242 and ask to speak with a caseworker. You will be asked to confirm that you are a constituent of the Second Congressional District and will then be asked to complete a privacy release form before we can contact an agency on your behalf.

To learn more about these services, please visit my casework page and fill out the privacy form.