The Orange City Council unanimously backed a federal buyout for a couple whose house in the Hillbrook subdivision has flooded nine times.
Sandra and David Bellon have been working with the city for three years and a total of five years to get a FEMA buyout for the house on Huntwick Drive.
Sandra Bellon told the council they had eight feet of water during Tropical Storm Harvey. Councilor Larry Spears said he had been to see the house. “I’m six feet tall and to see the mold line two feet above my head..”
David Bellon said the couple is retired and cannot continue to battle floods. City Emergenyc Management Director Lee Anne Brown reported the insurance has paid $366,000 to repair the house, more than it is worth.
Bellon said he began trying to get help in 2012 through Governor Rick Perry’s office and other agencies. They have moved truckloads of dirt to try to slope water away. At one point, they looked at a grant to raise the house, but the cost would be more than the value of the house.
The city will not pay any costs of the proposed buyout, but the council’s endorsement is needed. If FEMA buys the property and demolishes the house, the property will be given to the city, which must maintain it. No buildings will be allowed to be constructed on the site.
City Manager Dr. Shawn Oubre told the council the city’s Harvey debris contractor D&J Enterprises on Monday reported picking up 5,366 loads. That amounts to about 212,000 cubic yards of debris.
He said the Texas Department of Transportation will pick up debris from businesses on state highways, which will include Simmons Drive, 16th Street, Highway 87 and Old Highway 90.
People in Orange should have had all their debris out curbside by November 7 for the second round of pickup. Oubre said D&J sent scouts out to look for more debris and will send the trucks to the areas where the debris is out.
So far, the city has spent a little over $2 million for debris cleanup. He said FEMA is supposed to reimburse the city 90 percent of the costs and recently state agencies said they will cover the other 10 percent.