Simonton residents barred from rebuilding flooded homes

Few communities were hammered harder by the rising Brazos River than the northwest Fort Bend County town of Simonton.

While Jeff Parker's place took 18+ inches, he's now itching to repair what the the river ruined, but says he can't lift a hammer without a city permit.

"Because they threaten us with arrest and fines," says Parker. "There are deputies wandering around talking to people saying, 'You can't do that.'"

Residents say the City of Simonton's flood repair permitting process has put them into a sort of purgatory, unable to fix the their homes and fearful the structures will be condemned as chronic flood loss risks.

Brian Fanguy says like many in the Valley Lodge subdivision, he's paralyzed by the Simonton post flood permitting process.

"It's the disaster, after the disaster," says Fanguy. "It's a political disaster. It's a government intrusion. We shouldn't have to have a permit to do any kind of remediating on our house."  But the City of Simonton tells FOX 26 News for some of its citizens that remediating won't be necessary, because houses which sustained damage exceeding 50 percent of the structures value must be elevated or torn down.

The permitting process, the City claims, will prevent homeowners from wasting money.

Parker says that means neighbors may soon be forced to abandon homes they love.

"These people are old," adds Parker. "They don't have the disposable income to go start their life over at 60 or 65."

Speaking for the City of Simonton, Charles Kalkomey says the hard line on restoration permitting is necessary or the entire community could be excluded from future participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.