More than 3,300 homes, businesses in Port Arthur flood zone
More than 3,300 homes and businesses are in Port Arthur's flood zone and because of damage caused by Tropical Storm Harvey, many of those structures cannot be rebuilt the way they had been previously.
But Port Arthur officials say there are options and even financial aid available.
Massive amounts of debris show the devastation Harvey left in Vista Village, a two street neighborhood in Port Arthur where floodwater reached 5 to 8 feet inside the homes.
Martha Jones lives nearby on Houston Avenue. She saw first hand the storm's intrusion.
"I was in bed, looked out the window, water in the ditch," Jones said. "Ten minutes later it was in the house. That's never happened before."
And Port Arthur city officials want to prevent it from happening again, or at least lessen the severity.
So before homeowners living in the flood zone can rebuild, FEMA and city inspectors must give them the go ahead.
Things are not boding well for Vista Village.
"We can pretty much guess those houses on Linkwood are going to be substantially damaged and that is 50 percent or greater at the adjusted market value," said Paul Brown, flood plain administrator in Port Arthur.
City officials say there are between 3,600-3,700 properties in the city's flood zone. That's 40 percent of the homes and businesses in Port Arthur.
If the city and FEMA declare the property substantially damaged, rebuilding as is might not be an option.
"It's my home, where else am I going to go?" Jones asked.
Most residents fear the cost, especially if they have to elevate to meet FEMA floodplain guidelines.
But city leaders are calming concerns.
"What we'll do is put all the numbers together and grind them out and work with the people," Brown said. "Which is best - for them to elevate their home and get it up above base flood elevation, or to demolish or build something because FEMA does help mitigate these costs?"
FEMA grants will cover 80 percent of the cost to elevate a home if necessary, according to Brown. The city has sent letters to property owners in the flood zone.
But if you're still unsure about your address, you can all the city at (409) 983-8139.
Here is a list of the flood plain areas in Port Arthur:
- El Vista
- Vista Village
- Montrose 1 & 2
- Northern part of Port Acres
- South of Jimmy Johnson Boulevard to Highway 73
- Procter to the west, between 12th Avenue and San Jacinto