Houston is still damaged

After Hurricane HarveyRebuilding is not enough for Houston

There's a lot to do at Sheilla Hollie's home in Houston. A few weeks ago everything was covered in mud. The whole building was completely devastated. The dirt is out now - but her house is still uninhabitable. And that six weeks after tropical storm Harvey hit Houston. Sheilla Hollie comes here every day, only to return to her house at some point. For this she quit her job as a financial analyst:

"Thank God, I have a brother who also lives in Houston. And whom I can live with. And he supports me, every day, for eight to nine hours. We don't stop working until it gets dark. It it just takes a long time until everything is back to how it used to be. "

Sheilla Hollie's home in Houston, Texas was flooded for the third time in a year. Now she wants to move away. (Deutschlandradio / Kajetan Dyrlich)

The house flooded for the third time in a year

Harvey isn't the first storm to destroy Sheilla Hollie's Houston home and property:

"It's the third time my house has been flooded. I only moved back into my house last November after we were hit by a flood shortly before. I never thought it would happen again so quickly - within a year. "

Houston has been hit by severe hurricanes and storms several times in recent years. But tropical storm Harvey broke all records. From a purely statistical point of view, such a severe storm occurs - if at all - only once every 1,000 years, as Houston's Mayor Sylvester Turner explains:

"The storm made the water 12 meters high in some areas of Houston and 15 meters in some. Never before has there been such extreme rainfall in the history of the United States."

Even so, life has returned to normal in many parts of Houston. Children are going back to school, the airport is in tact, many streets have been repaired. Still, much remains to be done. And because of a $ 50 million grant from the state of Texas, Turner doesn't have to raise taxes in his city either. Among other things, he needs the money to help people who are still in need:

"There are still many, especially older people with disabilities or low incomes, who are in their homes and are really not safe there. We try to come to them as soon as possible and help them. We want to be absolutely sure that we leave no one behind. "

A flooded street in Houston, Texas (AFP / Thomas B. Shea)

Mayor Turner: It can't go on as before

Houston likes to market itself as the energy capital. The old energy mind you. Many gas and oil companies like Exxon Mobile have built huge refineries around Houston. The oil and gas industry - a major Houston employer. But unlike US President Trump in the White House, Democrat Turner is convinced that things cannot go on as before:

"Climate change is real, I accept science. The atmosphere is getting warmer. That is why the city of Houston supports the Paris Agreement. We have to do some things differently. For example, we have invested more in solar energy than any other city in the United States. We're getting greener and greener every day. "

Simply rebuilding the city after devastating storms like Harvey is not enough, says Turner. Rather, everything must now be done to protect the city from statistically recurring storms in the future.

"We have to be more careful about how we develop our city. We can't just rebuild it the way it looked in the past. We have to be smarter. And we have to build a city that recognizes that these storms open us up every year." Could meet new people. "

Sheilla Hollie will have to work on her house for a few more weeks. She wants to celebrate Christmas here again, she says. And at some point - she hopes - sell the house for a good price.

"I like this neighborhood. If you keep wanting to lose your property, then you stay here. I know some who love to live and want to stay here. But I've had enough. I've had enough. I'm ready to move away. "