When Hurricane Harvey ripped through southeast Texas last August, it left countless homes flooded and unlivable. More than four months later, 10,000 affected families are still spread across 12,000 hotel rooms, waiting for their lives to get back to normal.
In the next few days, FEMA is expected to announce whether it will extend its hotel program, called Transitional Shelter Assistance, for the fourth time. If it's allowed to expire on January 16, thousands of Texans whose homes have been deemed unlivable will immediately have to seek or request new shelter — a daunting prospect that has many Harvey survivors feeling anxious and frustrated with FEMA’s lack of communication and last-minute decision-making.
The challenge is that FEMA is not an insurance: It's a federal aid designed to be temporary. The agency’s disaster assistance has taken on several forms that range from direct financial compensation to temporary mobile homes. But in a region where 80 percent of victims did not have flood insurance, recovery is costly and FEMA can’t answer exactly who will get what help and for how much longer.
Federal assistance typically makes up only a fraction of what it takes to recover. In this bonus clip, we see how some families are developing their own solutions to the storm’s continued fallout.
This segment originally aired January 11, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.