Harris County looking at options for building third reservoir

HOUSTON - When Harvey flooded Lucas Fuentes' home behind the Addicks Dam, he was forced to carry his ailing wife on his back in chest-deep water.

It’s the third time his home in the Mayde Creek Subdivision has flooded in two years.

"What happened with me, I don’t want to have happen to anybody," Fuentes said. "In a few hours, few days you don’t have nothing. You just have to start over again."

Harvey inundated thousands of homes and businesses and also swamped an estimated 500,000 vehicles.

It was a flood both historic and catastrophic, and perhaps, a turning point.

"It's just time to take a whole new comprehensive look at what we’re doing here," Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said.

Emmett said the county is now looking at building a long discussed third reservoir, north of the Addicks Dam in the Cypress Creek watershed.

The third reservoir would relieve pressure on the Addicks and Barker dams -- 70-year-old earthen berms the judge said should also be rebuilt.

In the next few weeks, Emmett also expects FEMA to announce plans to buy out thousands of homeowners, especially around the dams and along Buffalo Bayou, that have flooded multiple times. The cost is estimated anywhere from $800 million to over $3 billion.

"That conversation is already occurring. We’ve literally had hundreds of homeowners contact flood control already saying, 'I want a buyout.' So, we’re sharing that info with FEMA," Emmett said.

Fuentes would be a prime candidate for a buyout.

“I tell him come on, let's figure out number, and (we're) out of here,” Fuentes said.

It all comes down to money.

Hundreds of billions of dollars from federal, state and local governments are being spent to rethink and rebuild a regional drainage system that hasn’t kept up with growth.

It’s still not clear where all of that money can be found.

"With the technology in this country, we can do anything. But guess what? It costs money, so people have to decide how much money do you want to spend," Emmett said.

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