Texas Home Stands Tall, Survives Harvey

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John and Mary Sullivan’s home stood alone, 12.5 feet above ground, as the only house undamaged by Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters in their Webster, Texas, neighborhood last August.

“The water rose approximately 12 to 13 feet in five hours,” Mary said. But they were ready.

Flooded by hurricane-driven waters in the past, the Sullivans had gotten proactive after Hurricane Ike in 2008. During a community meeting, they learned about flood mitigation techniques, like raising their home above the expected water level resulting from a major storm. 

As participants in the National Flood Insurance Program who had already received at least four payouts of $5,000 or more, the Sullivans were eligible to apply for a grant to elevate their home through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) program.

HMA reviewed the Sullivan home’s history and designated it a priority, along with 15 other homes in the community. The Sullivans finished the project in 2015, elevating their home 12.5 feet above the ground and 1.5 feet above the base flood elevation. Floodwaters have an estimated 1 percent chance of reaching the base flood elevation in any given year.

The Sullivans stayed away from home for about two months during the elevation project, but it was worth it when Harvey arrived, and when their insurance bill arrived. The family had paid more than $4,400 a year for flood insurance before the elevation project; now their annual premium is $464, a savings of nearly 90 percent.

For more information on the Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant Program, visit www.fema.gov/flood-mitigation-assistance-grant-program. For more information on Hurricane Harvey and Texas recovery, visit the Hurricane Harvey disaster web page at www.fema.gov/disaster/4332, or Facebook at , the FEMA Region 6 Twitter account at , or the Texas Division of Emergency Management website at https://www.dps.texas.gov/dem/.

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