5 things to know about how Houston is safeguarding against natural disasters

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - 1. What is the city’s Hazard Mitigation Action Plan?

This is the city’s strategic plan to better safeguard people and property against all types of natural disasters. The plan is updated every five years and is crucial to the city receiving federal dollars needed for improvement projects.

2. What disasters are highly likely to hit the Houston area?

According to the 2018 proposed plan, floods, hurricanes/tropical storms, thunderstorm winds, wildfires, extreme heat and hail are highly likely to hit our area. This means there is a good chance our city could be hit with one or more of these disasters within the next year.

3. Is Hurricane Harvey factored into this plan?

Only in broad strokes. The city was in the process of finalizing this plan when Hurricane Harvey hit our area. The full extent of damage is still being tallied and wouldn’t be available in time to submit the report for the next funding cycles. An example of how this plan taps into federal dollars is a project that came after Tropical Storm Allison hit the city in 2001. A past plan helped secure the $95 million needed to channel rainwater away from the medical center.

4. Why not wait until all Harvey data is available?

Since federal funding is crucial to meeting our area’s hazard mitigation needs, having a current, approved plan in place means the city is eligible for those federal dollars. Also, city officials said the report is “not set in stone,” and can be revised once all Harvey data is compiled.

5. Is the report complete?

Not yet. The city still has to gather citizen input. Once that is done, the report has to be approved by the City Council, the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The city hopes to have the plan approved by the council next month.

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