Blue Tarp Project: Mayor Turner commits $2 million to fixing roofs damaged in Hurricane Ike

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HOUSTON — Hurricane Ike raged threw Texas in 2008, damaging property to the tune of $30 billion. Recovery was slow. But can you believe some folks in Houston are still waiting to get their roofs fixed eight years later?

"I can't sleep at night for drip drip drip drip," Southpark resident Vallia Hill Huff. "You talk about water torture? I'm going through water torture just like those prisoners of war."

Huff has been working with the city and Rebuilding Together Houston to get her home fixed since Ike hit. She said they did a great job with painting the outside but inside the home is still a mess.

"You can see the water coming down on the wiring here," she said while pointing to an open, three-foot missing chunk of her living room ceiling. "I can't cut this light on because I'm scared it's gonna short out."

Huff said if she could get the roof fixed, she could save a little money to have redo the house's drywall, which will entirely remove spots and mold.

Mayor Sylvester Turner received approval from City Council this week for $2 million to repair those blue tarp roofs. His office has identified about 700 makeshift roofs from aerial photos, he said Wednesday at a news conference.

"Of these homes," Turner said. "The city believes approximately 200 are in good enough shape to repair the roof."

In order to qualify, the homeowner must live in the home and have an annual household income less than $109,600. The amount of people living inside the is also factored in during the application process.

Houston has been reaching out to blue tarp homeowners, but potential applicants can contact the city by call 311. NewsFix lent our phone to blue tarp homeowner Venet White, who doesn't own a phone of her own. In the 10 minute conversation, White spoke to several people who had never heard of the Blue Tarp Program. White was sent to voicemail, which doesn't bode well for the target date to get the initiative done.

"Our expectation is that shingles will be coming off roofs within two weeks," Director Tom McCasland of Houston's Housing and Community Development department said.

McCasland said the city's goal is to have all eligible homes fixed by New Year Eve this year.

"When they start coming to start fixing, you'll see a smile on my face," White said. "But until then, I'm gonna keep on putting buckets when it rains, watching for mold when it's hot, going to hospitals because I have asthma. And that's my life."

Huff is a little more optimistic.

"It's hope, so if rains this weekend and water starts coming in there," Huff said. "I'm gonna say, 'Hey, I don't have too long 'cause Rebuilding Houston and the mayor of Houston, they're coming."

Better late than never.


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