Nearly three weeks after the rain stopped falling in Houston, the work of rebuilding has barely begun. There aren't enough workers available — not even close.
Houston's housing market had a severe labor shortage before the storm, and that shortage doubled after Hurricane Harvey hit.
From the main thoroughfares, it looks like the city is bustling again: Offices and schools are open, retail is up and running, and freeways are jammed. But one turn onto a residential street offers a starkly different scene. Neighborhoods look like the houses were turned inside out. Everything, soggy and smelly, is rotting on the front lawn, and homes stand stripped to the studs. That work was mostly done by the owners themselves.
Jennifer and Andy Taylor did it, along with about two dozen friends, family members and volunteers.
"We've had our moments, to be sure," said Andy Taylor, looking over the skeleton of what was once his living room. "But a lot of those moments were really being touched by the outreach. I mean our neighborhood created stores at people's houses to give food, to give clothes, for backpacks for your kids for school, cleaning supplies, toys, and all you needed to do was walk in and take what you needed."
The Taylors kept calling themselves lucky, even as they walked past the remnants of 14 years of comfortable living in their two-story home — all in a festering heap twice their height. Both having worked in the real estate business, they had the foresight to buy flood insurance, even though they are not in a flood zone. It was the dams releasing reservoir water that put them underwater.