Harvey’s drenching rains are moving east after days over the Houston area. Which means that in America’s fourth-largest city, floodwaters have begun to creep down—offering a first look at the storm’s real legacy of destruction.
According to FEMA data, only 20 percent of the people in the hardest-hit areas have flood insurance. Homeowners whose houses were flooded may be able to get grants from FEMA, but those grants are only available to people whose homes are completely unlivable, and they typically cover only a fraction of repair costs. Homeowners can apply for a federal loan to cover the cost of rebuilding, which effectively means taking out a second mortgage on their homes.
Tens of thousands may decide to relocate altogether.
But right now, all of those decisions are impossibly remote, and for the families venturing out of Houston’s shelters, there’s one consuming imperative: assess the damage. VICE News traveled with a Houston family as they returned home for the first time since the storm:
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