>> Three months after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, America's fourth largest city is planning to knock down thousands of houses that were engulfed by the storm, but it's still building in flood prone areas.>> I'm Eddie Sullivan in Houston where the cleanup from Hurricane Harvey is largely complete. Those piles of debris are mostly gone from the side of the road.
Now the rebuilding has begun, a process that's likely to take years. This has always been a growth friendly city, built on low taxes and relatively few regulations, now some are questioning whether that formula needs to be revisited so the city can better protect itself from the next storm that's sure to come.
Houston has flooded three times in the past three years, and experts say a warming climate means the city will face more threats in the coming years. Texas officials have asked the federal government for billions of dollars to buyout residents who's houses have flooded repeatedly. Their homes would be demolished, and the land returned to nature.
More than 3,000 Houston area residents have signed up. Melinda Loshack and her husband Joel spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate their house after it flooded in 2015, only to see it flood again when Harvey hit. Now they're hoping the government will take it off their hands.
>> I called the house my Albatross. It just follows us, just hanging from our necks, pulling us down.>> But officials say they're not likely to have enough money to buyout all the homeowners who want to move out of the flood zone. That means people like the Loshack's could be stuck with houses nobody wants to buy.
Meanwhile, experts here are calling for new rules to preserve open space, which can absorb rain water, rather than pushing it downstream to flood other neighborhoods. But that´s not stopping one developer from building hundreds of new houses on a former golfcourse in a flood zone. The builder says its project will exceed anti-flooding guidelines, but community activist like Ed Brown aren't buying it.
>> Houston's paying millions of dollars to remove homes from the flood plain. Some 3,100 people want to remove their homes from the flood plains, and here we're bulding 800 homes essentially in a flood plain. It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to do that. It seems like the wrong use of this land.
>> In the years to come, neighborhoods like this one could look substantially different. Many of these houses could be gone replaced by parkland. Much of that depends on whether the government decides it's worthwhile to buy these people out, or to help them rebuild, knowing that taxpayers could be on the hook in the future for billions of dollars again in rebuilding costs when the next hurricane blows through.