A Jasper woman will be receiving a newly built home after her home of 47 years was damaged to the point of being unlivable by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Susie Mosley, who lives at 1550 Hollins Drive in far northeast Jasper, is one of four families living in Deep East Texas who is currently receiving help from federal funds in the form of a brand new home.

The new house is part of a project of the Texas General Land Office Homeowner Assistance Program through $143 million dollars in federal block grant funds for Hurricane Harvey recovery, and representatives from the county, state, and federal level were on hand Thursday to participate in a ground breaking ceremony, and then they all watched as the old house was demolished.

Mosley said that she has always had a water issue since she bought the home in 1972. She explained that the house sits on top of a natural path where water flows downhill during heavy rains, and all of that water has wreaked havoc to the bottom of the wood frame structure.

According to Mosley, the problem had always been excess moisture coming from underneath. Mosley said “It comes up through my floor and it mildews my bathroom and my closet”.

However, when the massive record-breaking rains associated with Harvey came through, Mosley said during and after the storm she began having trouble with water coming through the roof and ceiling which rendered the house unlivable, and insurance was of no help. “When your house get old, insurance don’t do what they supposed to do, and I can understand that, but that’s it, that’s the problem”, said Mosley.

Jennifer Harris with the Texas General Land Office was also on hand. Harris said the Mosley home is the fourth home in Jasper County being either repaired or replaced, with the other three currently under construction. However, there is a large disparity between the number of homeowners who have applied for assistance, and those who have been approved thus far.

Rafael LeMaitre with IEM, which is the contractor hired by the Texas General Land Office to deliver services for the program in the East Texas region, broke down the numbers for KJAS News:

JASPER COUNTY

Applied for repair/rebuild – 344, Approved or underway - 13

NEWTON COUNTY

Applied for repair/rebuild – 102, Approved or underway - 1

POLK COUNTY

Applied for repair/rebuild – 141, Approved or underway - 4

SABINE COUNTY

Applied for repair/rebuild – 11, Approved or underway - 0

SAN AUGUSTINE COUNTY

Applied for repair/rebuild – 1, Approved or underway - 0

SAN JACINTO COUNTY

Applied for repair/rebuild – 152, Approved or underway – 1

TYLER COUNTY

Applied for repair/rebuild – 90, Approved or underway – 7

We asked LeMaitre why the numbers for approvals were so low. LeMaitre said “We began the application process in December and, so, the eligibility process takes some time to get through and, so, it’s kind of moving through the pipeline now. There’s many folks who will apply who will not be eligible for various reasons, but it’s a process to get those numbers approved”.

LeMaitre and Harris noted that those who apply must have owned the home at the time of the storm, and they must have damage from the storm.

Harris said “The way the program works is, if you’re deemed eligible for support, the General Land Office will use federal funds to either repair or rebuild your home”.

To apply for assistance, LeMaitre and Harris said homeowners can call 1-844-893-8937 or apply online at www.recovery.texas.gov or email cdr@recovery.texas.gov for information.

Meanwhile, Mosley stood back in a shady spot on Thursday afternoon and watched as Cody Lee and his crew from Brizo Construction out of Texas City began the demolition job, and a man operating a backhoe tore down the home in about 30 minutes. Once the debris is cleared, officials say construction on the new home will begin with much sturdier materials than the original house, including mold resistant floors, walls, and ceilings, and a target of completion in 120 days or less.

Although Mosley says that she and her family have a lot of good old memories in the old house, they look forward to making good new memories in the new house.

Broadcast journalist & on-air personality - Rayburn Broadcasting Company - KJAS 107.3 FM in Jasper, TX and KFAH 99.1 FM in Pineland, TX