For about $2 billion in relief money a FEMA-backed buyout could ensure that 7,000 homes never flood again. Harvey’s tally of destruction in the Houston region includes 18 dead, 50,000 rescued, and 500,000 cars waterlogged. 'We've got probably 30,000 to 40,000 homes that have been destroyed,' said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. Damage estimates surpass $20 billion. The 51.88 inches Harvey dumped on Cedar Bayou in southwest Houston is now the record for most rain from a single tropical storm. Many flooded families had recently completed repairs to homes damaged during the 2016 “Tax Day” floods. At some point it's not worth rebuilding in the flood plain again and again. One possible long-term solution to Houston's flooding woes: buy out hopelessly flooded homes and return the spongey land to the water shed where it can soak up more rain.