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

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

Authorities continue to distribute cash to flood victims and some people are still waiting for new houses to be built.

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

“I walk around for a while and want to smack 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 to modernize it.

“I had no central air conditioning. I had window units. I had radiators for heating. I didn’t have a dishwasher. I have one now. The slab was cracked and the water was coming inside the house,” she said.

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

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“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 good, that’s just me,” she said.

Heather Lagrone, Senior Assistant Disaster Recovery Program Manager for GLO, said the build could change for some applicants and says there are a lot of things that go into the process.

“From HUD’s perspective, you don’t necessarily need a garage to fit into your house, and we’re not building a house that you had. We build the home your family needs. In some cases it means you get fewer rooms and in other cases it means you get more rooms than you had before,” Lagrone said.

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

“Stay with us. We are working on this information that we are now collecting from you,” she said.

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

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

The GLO Owner Assistance Program team can be reached at 346-222-4686 or 1-866-317-1998 (toll-free) or [email protected]

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

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Gregory M. Roy