Madelyn Jenkins is tired of asking for help.

Her home on Ohio Avenue in Dickinson was flooded during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. It still bears many of the scars of the storm. Furniture is scattered around her single-story house, wherever there’s space.

A back bedroom is torn down to the studs, the result of a well-meaning church group that came to the house in the summer, but didn’t finish the rehabilitation work, she said.

Jenkins doesn’t know whether the group is coming back. She’s been disappointed by her insurance company and by the federal assistance she’s received from FEMA, she said.

Now, a day after the start of a new Texas General Land Office program meant to help still-struggling Harvey homeowners, Jenkins is more than ready to move on, she said.

“They can tear it down,” Jenkins said about her home of 22 years. “I’d be happy. Seriously.”

The land office Monday began accepting applications for its Homeowner Assistance Program. The program, funded by $258 million in federal disaster recovery block grants, will rebuild or rehabilitate Harvey-damaged houses for homeowners that meet certain qualifications, such as being owned by low- or middle-level income people.

About 145 Galveston County homeowners had submitted at least a partial application as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the land office. Of those, 21 had submitted full applications, the land office said.

The land office estimated about 2,000 homeowners from Galveston and five other area counties would get help through the program. Applicants from the six-county region are drawing money from the same pot of disaster aid awarded to Texas after the hurricane.

The land office last week estimated as many as 10,000 homes in the county alone might qualify for the assistance through the program. Only a fraction of that number would be rebuilt under the state program, officials said.

Applicants are being considered on first-come, first-serve basis.

After a person submits an application, it will take up to two weeks to find out whether they’ve been deemed qualified to participate in the program. It will take longer to determine whether a person will get any assistance through the program, the land office said. After a homeowner is accepted, construction work should be completed within six months, the land office said.

The start of the program is a relief for some local leaders, who said Harvey survivors — particularly those who weren’t insured against flooding and have fixed incomes — were anxious for news about rebuilding.

“This kind of help has been very painful to be patient for,” Dickinson City Councilman William King III. said. “Citizens were hurting, desperate, there was no lifeline. Now, help is here.”

The land office and other recovery groups have planned a series of informational meetings to try to urge people to sign up. The first of those meetings, at Dickinson’s Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, where King is a pastor, drew about 30 people Tuesday afternoon.

For many at the meeting, part of the event was figuring out what this program is and isn’t about. The homeowner assistance program will not reimburse people for construction work done on their homes since Harvey. That will come through a different program the land office plans to roll out next year.

The homeowner program also won’t reimburse people for lost vehicles, or for rent expenses they’ve incurred since being forced from their homes by the storm.

The program could pay for reconstruction work that has been only partially done, or for replacing a home that had to be torn down because of flood damage, officials said.

That was encouraging news for some.

Rita Howard, 84, saw her home on Avenue G flood during the storm and decided to sign up for the assistance program after attending the meeting.

“It seems reasonable,” she said. “It seems like they’re going to do something.”

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


Senior Reporter

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