After Harvey, Seadrift couple forced out of home

With few options and dwindling time left to find a new place to live, Laura Hernandez-Biery holds the eviction notice that was issued, instructing her to vacate her home in Seadrift.

SEADRIFT - Laura Hernandez-Biery sat on the passenger seat with her eyes closed.

Her husband, David Biery, drove into their rented home's driveway after evacuating to Waco to avoid Hurricane Harvey.

As she opened her eyes, she was grateful to see the house was still standing and that it had sustained minor damage.

At first, the landlords offered to help with electrical repair and bring them a new refrigerator. But Sept. 18, they were asked to leave the house by Oct. 1 because it had been deemed uninhabitable.

Friday, Hernandez-Biery said the home was shown to potential buyers and was sold.

The Bierys then received a 72-hour notice-to-vacate letter signed at 11:30 a.m. asking them to leave in three days "due to damages sustained by Hurricane Harvey, no electric services (and) structural damage."

"They first told us, 'Whatever needs to get done, we will take care of it,'" Hernandez-Biery said. "And within a week, it was like, 'Hurricane Harvey, who?'"

As the clock is ticking down to their eviction, the Bierys have been desperately looking for a new place to rent in Seadrift as they wondered what they did wrong for them to be in this situation.

"This house has always been in bad shape. We just paid for the view and for the porch," said Hernandez-Biery, who lives right across from the shore.

After the hurricane, the owners began putting money into repairs but later learned the power company had to disconnect electricity to the home because repairs were needed and the roof needed to be replaced.

"The repairs are more extensive than we can afford," the owner of the house, Macey Matula, wrote through text.

The house has been on the market and is now listed as is at a reduced price, she said.

As part of their lease, the tenants and the owners signed an early termination of lease form, which stated the tenants were under the understanding that the property is "for sale" and is to be shown by appointment.

However, the form also states the tenants would have 30 days post-closing to vacate the unit based on their acceptance of the agreement.

The letter included that if the tenants do not vacate the premises within the 72 hours, a lawsuit would be filed and the court may enter judgement against them for the cost of the suit.

Hernandez-Biery said since she has been renting the home, no one had gone by to see the house until Friday. She also had asked the owners whether she could arrange owner financing before the home was shown to potential buyers.

She fears the small damages to the home might be a loophole to get them out of the home with the short notice. Hernandez-Biery said the home has always had some form of structural damage.

"I know every place where you can fall through the floor," she said as she pointed to a few locations on her porch.

The Bierys have been living at the home with no electricity for about a week, depending on a generator and an ice chest.

Matula said that the Realtor had told the Bierys to relocate as soon as possible because of the unsafe living conditions.

However, they found out the Bierys were still staying at the house after the tenants told her they were going to be staying with a relative.

"Because we are concerned with their safety while staying there, we were left with no other option," Matula said. "We have not charged them any rent for the month so they can use those funds to assist them in relocating."

While the Bierys say the electrical and roof repairs are minimal, they have been doing their part by trying to find a new home to move to.

"There's no bad blood, and I'm not trying to be dramatic. I'm just trying to find a home," she said. "But I can't even find a box to put our stuff in, let alone a house."

The Bierys hope to find a home in Seadrift because of David Biery's job with his boat.

Hernandez-Biery said they are desperately trying to find a home because any lawsuit expenses would ruin any chances of them finding a permanent home in the future.

"It's overwhelming, and it hurts," she said. "This will ruin my credit, which I have been working on to buy a house."

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Arts/Entertainment and Breaking News Reporter

I love asking people what they are passionate about. Working for the Victoria Advocate allows me to learn more about the fascinating things people are doing throughout their community.

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