Planned new neighborhood aims to give La Grange flood victims hope


REGULAR SESSION IN JANUARY. 2-JOHN:THE FAYETTE COUNTY DISASTER RECOVERY TEAM IS CUTTING THE RIBBON ON A NEW PROJECT THIS WEEKEND. THE NONPROFIT DOESN’T WANT PEOPLE REBUILDING FLOODED HOMES IN A FLOODPLAIN- TO AVOID A REPEAT LIKE THIS PAST SUMMER WHEN HARVEY FLOODED OUT PEOPLE FROM THEIR HOMES.SALLY:ALMOST NINE MONTHS AFTER HURRICANE HARVEY, DOZENS OF FAMILIES WITHOUT HOMES WILL SEE THE FIRST STEPS TOWARD A PERMANENT SOLUTION. CHRIS DAVIS JOINS US WITH AN INDEPTH LOOK AT THE RECOVERY. CHRIS:JOHN, SALLY..I WANT TO GIVE YOU A SENSE FOR JUST HOW FAR OUTSIDE THE FLOODPLAIN THIS DEVELOPMENT WOULD BE. HERE’S ONE OF THE MOBILE HOME PARKS RIGHT BY THE RIVER.. THAT WAS MORE OR LESS WIPED OUT..ALL THE WAY UP HERE IN THE NORTH PART OF TOWN IS WHERE THE RECOVERY TEAM HOPES THEY’LL RESETTLE.THE WORK OF A CLERIC CAN BE A LITTLE.. CLERICAL.MATTHEW KINNEY: “THERE’S A LOT OF ADMINISTRATIVE STUFF THAT HAPPENS.”THIS IS FATHER MATTHEW KINNEY’S FIRST TIME RUNNING A PARISH — BUDGETS AND ALL.HARVEY HIT HIS PARISHIONERS HARD.MATTHEW KINNEY: “THAT FIRST DAY WE HAD 86 FAMILIES COME IN AND SIGN UP THAT THEY HAD BASICALLY LOST EVERYTHING.”THAT WASN’T EVEN ALL OF THEM.HE OFFERED HOPE WHERE HE COULD.MATTHEW KINNEY: “WE DON’T HAVE AN ANSWER RIGHT NOW. YOU KNOW, WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO LIVE, WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO BE ABLE TO GO FROM HERE?”THEY HOPE.. HERE.HOPE HILL.KENNY COUCH: “WE’RE STILL WORKING WITH A GROUP TO DESIGN THE ENTIRE LAYOUT.”23 ACRES.. FOR 64 HOUSES.KENNY COUCH: “WE DON’T WANT THEM REBUILDING IN THE FLOODPLAIN.”THE FAYETTE COUNTY DISASTER RECOVERY TEAM BOUGHT THIS LAND.THEY WANT TO DEVELOP IT INTO A NEIGHBORHOOD FOR FLOOD VICTIMS IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS.KENNY COUCH: “WE HAVE AN ESTABLISHED COMMUNITY WHERE THEY KNOW EACH OTHER, THEIR KIDS PLAY WITH EACH OTHER, THEY GO TO THE SAME SCHOOLS ALREADY, SO WE DON’T WANT TO DISRUPT THAT.”MATTHEW KINNEY: “WE DREAMED ABOUT THIS, THAT THIS WOULD BE HOW WE COULD REBUILD.”172 FAMILIES LOST HOMES IN THE MOBILE HOME PARKS ALONE.THAT’S WHERE A LOT OF KINNEY’S PARISHIONERS LIVED.. HOPE HILL WOULDN’T HOUSE ALL OF THEM..BUT THE PASTOR HOPES IT’S ANOTHER STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.MATTHEW KINNEY: “WE’RE NOT ONLY RECOVERING. WE’RE REBUILDING BETTER THAN IT WAS BEFORE.”CHRIS:THIS ALL HINGES ON RESULTS OF ENVIRONMENTAL TESTS.WE HEARD CONCERNS ABOUT SOIL CONTAMINATED WITH ARSENIC FROM A DAIRY OPERATION THAT WAS ON THE LAND.THE RECOVERY TEAM HAD A PRELIMINARY STUDY DONE.. BUT IT DIDN’T TEST THE SOIL.THAT’S PART OF THE NEXT PHASE OF DESIGN.IF IF TURNS UP ARSENIC IN THE SOIL THEY SAY THEY WON’T MOVE FORWARD WITH DEVELOPMENT UNTIL IT’S FIXED. BUT THEY EXPECT ANY ISSUES TO BE MINOR.. GIVEN THE DAIRY OPERATION WAS SMALL.. AND CLOSED UP SHOP DECADES AGO. JOHN:THE NONPROFIT RECOVERY TEAM BOUGHT THE LAND WITH DONATIONS..THEY ANTICIPATE THE TOTAL COST TO BE CLOSE TO 10 MILLION DOLLARS INCLUDING LABOR.BUT VOLUNTEERS WILL DO A LOT OF THE WORK.THAT’LL BE A REQUIREMENT FOR THE PEOPLE WHO MOVE IN..THEY’LL ALSO HAVE TO PAY ANY RECOVERY MONEY THEY HAVE LEFT — INCLUDING FROM FEMA.. TOWARD THEIR HOUSE. AFTER THAT MAKE UP THE REST. 2-JOHN:WE WANTED TO SEE WHAT FEMA IS REPORTING ON ITS HARVEY RECOVERY EFFORTS IN LA GRANGE.THE AGENCY SENDS SEVERAL UPDATES EACH MONTH. 2-SALLY:WE COMPARED ITS REPORT FROM THE END OF JANUARY TO ITS MOST RECENT UPDATE ON MAY 4TH. IN THIS TIME PERIOD- THE NUMBER OF LA GRANGE FAMILIES IN FEMA FUNDED HOTELS HAS DROPPED FROM 41 TO 10.BUT STATEWIDE, THERE IS STILL A BIG NEED.FEMA’S LATEST REPORT SHOWS MORE THAN 2-THOUSAND TEXAS FAMILIES REMAIN IN HOTELS PAID BY THE AGENCY. ANOTHER NEAR 18-THOUSAND SURVIVORS ARE IN TEMPORARY HOUSING.AND TO PUT INTO PERSPECTIVE ON THE MASSIVE WORK BEING DONE AFTER THE STORM…12 MILLION CUBIC YARDS OF STORM DEBRIS HAS BEEN PICKED UP SINCE THE STORM MADE LANDFALL.DAVID HELPED US OUT WITH THE MATH.12 MILLION CUBIC YARDS EQUALS TO ALMOST 8 ASTRODOMES. FIRST WARNING WEATHER AND TRAFFIC

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