Kristen Alonzo saved up for more than two years before moving into her apartment last spring.
“We were finally on our own,” the single mother of two said.
But when she returned to her apartment after Hurricane Harvey, she found part of her ceiling had fallen, allowing about 18 inches of water inside.
A couple of boxes of photos and some furniture lay ruined.
Since then, Alonzo has moved her family three times.
Noah Hernandez, 2, makes laps around the coffee table in their new house. His mother, Kristen Alonzo, 28, talked recently about finding her family a place to live after Hurricane Harvey.
An estimated 31.6 percent of apartments in Victoria were damaged by the Aug. 25 Category 4 hurricane. And at least 405 units in those apartment complexes were damaged enough that tenants had to move.
The newspaper came to this estimate by contacting 53 apartment complexes throughout February.
Victoria Housing Authority’s nine complexes are counted as one in the survey.
Forty-seven of the 53 properties shared the number of units that were damaged.
Several would not disclose how many tenants were displaced.
Although it’s been six months since the hurricane, many complexes’ repairs continue to be hamstrung by insurance. Those leading the recovery efforts worry that renters, some of whom live paycheck to paycheck, have been overlooked.
“What we have found is that some people were already not in great housing,” said Ginny Stafford, CEO of Mid-Coast Family Services. “They were living in a trailer that was paid for or they were living with a family that had a trailer, and when that trailer got destroyed and they had to move into an apartment, they didn’t have enough funds.”
Last month, Letha Petrash, who manages the Villas, had to ask even more tenants to move out.
“We are extremely frustrated. All we have received is a small allowance to clean up the property, haul away debris, as well as shrink-wrap the roofs to prevent further water intrusion,” she said. “We are facing the proverbial 3 ‘Ds’ of the insurance company: Delay, Deny, Dispute.”
Nancy Garner, president of Woolson Real Estate, said at one of her five damaged apartment complexes, the insurance company sent adjusters to inspect a roof four times.
She said she hired her own adjuster to map every square foot of her damaged apartment complexes, but insurance approved starting roof repairs for just one.
“It’s really the insurance’s job to do this,” she said, showing the Advocate an 8-inch stack of reports and about 4,000 photographs generated by her own adjuster.
Melissa Moore, president of the Victoria Apartment Association, said the group estimated between 750 and 1,000 units of members’ 6,800 units were damaged by the storm.
The association has 115 members throughout Victoria, Calhoun and DeWitt counties.
Moore said most insurance companies require three bids for everything.
Moore also manages Autumn Park, which hasn’t started its construction because it, too, is waiting for insurance approval.
Still, she considers herself lucky.
“We only had 20 (units damaged), and some had much more than that,” she said.
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