None of us will forget August 25, 2017, when Hurricane Harvey’s record-setting deluge paralyzed the Houston region – inundating structures, displacing thousands and causing the tragic loss of over 100 lives.
On this fifth anniversary – as well as beyond – we’ll always be reminded of Harvey’s destruction. But we should also reflect on how we came together as a community, bringing out our very best when Harvey offered its worst. We must be further encouraged to strengthen the resiliency and safety of every community by upgrading our watersheds and drainage to better prepare for and endure future storms and other challenges from climate change.
One year after Harvey, you – as Harris County voters – helped in that commitment by approving a $2.5 billion bond package to construct flood-mitigation projects with an equity framework to ensure that historically neglected areas devastated by the storm would receive much-needed protection. And the Harris County Flood Control District and the County Engineering Department have been working diligently to bring those construction projects to fruition.
While we still have distance to go before every neighborhood has the flood protection it needs and deserves, we’ve made tremendous progress:
Since passage of the bond, the Harris County Flood Control District has invested more than $1.1 billion in flood protection. Over 229 project components have been completed to date, reducing the risk of flooding for over 14,000 homes and businesses.In Precinct One, as of July 2022, between 5,000 to 9,600 structures are better protected from flooding.Harris County removed an estimated 4.7 million cubic yards of sediment from channels – the equivalent of approximately 335,000 dump truck loads to move stormwater effectively and safely down the County’s channel system.Harris County created a Flood Resilience Trust and established annual contributions of $40 million. This provides a recurring, local funding source for flood control projects. The additional funding is expected to help neighborhoods that are least resilient to flooding in watersheds such as Halls Bayou, Greens Bayou, San Jacinto River and others.
We’re proud of the progress we’ve made, but we know more is needed for families and communities across the county. One of our greatest challenges is State officials playing political games with recovery dollars that they have denied our region.
The billions in federal aid directed to Texas following Harvey presented a critical opening to address our region’s housing instability, disaster vulnerability and recovery needs. Instead, Texas discriminated against Harris County and distributed $4.3 billion intended for at-risk coastal communities like ours to smaller, whiter and less-vulnerable inland areas while Harris County and Houston received nothing. Texas leaders did this despite our residents suffering the most damage from Harvey and facing greater risk in the future.
We are continuing to fight for our fair share from the State of Texas and doing everything we can to make up for the shortfall they’ve created. More broadly, we’re committed to working to make sure every community has the flood protection it needs and deserves.