Michael and Nancy Schnell stand in front of their gutted home, which was damaged during Hurricane Ike in Shoreacres.
Hurricane Ike damaged almost half the homes in Harris County and left more than 18,000 dwellings uninhabitable, according to a detailed assessment by the Harris County Housing Authority.
Hardest hit was the small Galveston Bay community of Shoreacres, an all-residential town where 58.6 percent of the homes were destroyed or suffered greater than 50 percent damage, according to the assessment provided to the Houston Chronicle Tuesday.
The report, based on inspections of 774,000 of the county’s 994,000 residential units from Sept. 23 through Nov. 13, is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the destruction caused by Ike, although it’s limited to residential damage in Harris County.
Harris County officials asked the housing authority to conduct the assessment in part because no standardized method existed for communities to assess disaster impacts, said Guy Rankin, the authority’s chief executive. He said he hopes the techniques developed for this study will be adopted throughout the country.
A team of 200 inspectors fanned out across the county and observed damage to houses, apartments and mobile homes. Homes determined to have major damage — 51 percent or more of their value — were considered uninhabitable.
The study concluded that 48 percent of the county’s dwelling units sustained minor damage — 50 percent of value or less. Less than 1 percent sustained major damage.
The authority can conduct the same study for Galveston, Jefferson or other counties affected by Ike if asked to do so, Rankin said. The county is paying the study’s $3.5 million cost and will seek reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said.
The data also will help local officials plan for housing needs in Ike’s aftermath, Rankin said. He’s particularly concerned about the potential for thousands of houses with damaged roofs to deteriorate if owners don’t repair them promptly.
The findings didn’t surprise Nancy Schnell, whose family has been living in a travel trailer parked on its property in Shoreacres while contractors gutted the family house for rebuilding.
As she spoke Tuesday, Schnell watched children step off a school bus and walk down a street piled high with debris from gutted houses.
“It’s horrific,” Schnell said of the conditions in Shoreacres, where she said the first FEMA mobile homes didn’t arrive until three months after Ike’s Sept. 13 landfall.
The value of Shoreacres homes left uninhabitable by Ike totaled $27 million, the report states.
The assessment identified $8.2 billion in residential property damage in Harris County, down slightly from the $8.5 billion preliminary estimate released by the housing authority in October.
Generally, small cities and unincorporated areas sustained major damage to more of their homes than Houston did, although the monetary value of damaged property in Houston was higher, at $4.6 billion, because of generally higher property values in the city.
El Lago, a southeast Harris County town of about 4,100 people, was a distant second to Shoreacres in major damage, with 12.6 percent of its homes destroyed or sustaining greater than 50 percent damage. Next were Seabrook, 11.4 percent, and Nassau Bay, 10.1 percent.
The report includes the Harris County Flood Control District’s assessment of flooding caused by Ike’s storm surge and rainfall. The storm surge reached 10 to 12 feet in southeast Harris County from Morgan’s Point to Kemah, the district reported.
The combined effects of the surge and wave action of 4 to 6 feet accounted for the devastation in Shoreacres, the flood control district said. A similar effect occurred in the Galveston County communities of San Leon and Bacliff.
Originally posted by Mike Sny der in the Houston Chro nicle