HOUSTON – On the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, the Harris County Flood Control District announced that all projects that are part of a multibillion-dollar post-Harvey bond program have begun.
“The public can rest assured that the projects we’re building are helping to reduce the risk of flooding,” said interim Executive Director Alan Black.
According to the Harris County Flood Control District, 181 projects have been initiated. Of those projects, 27 are complete.
“Now some of them are only just beginning, that beginning part of the project life cycle, that three to five-year cycle, so it will be a couple of years before they start construction,” Black said.
Black also said that 11,000 homes in flood plains have been cleared, there have been 660 voluntary buyouts of homes and businesses and 662 more buyouts are in progress. Some of the projects include widening and deepening of bayous.
“We are on pace to right now to complete, by the end of this year, the Brays Bayou Federal Project, the White Oak Federal Project and the Hunting Bayou Federal Project,” said Black.
Half of the bond program is composed of Harris County Flood Control District bonds. While the other half, $2.5 billion, was to come from federal, state and local partners. Earlier this year, the Harris County Budget Office revealed a more than $1 billion dollar shortfall.
This summer, Black said Harris County commissioners established the Flood Resilience Trust and it is helping.
“To bring forward local money that can be used to pick up and backstop any project who we may be expecting there to be a partnership for a project, but that partner didn’t quite pan out,” he said.
This update is welcome news to Braes Heights homeowner, Michelle Frankfort, whose home flooded during Harvey.
“I think promoting better drainage, better resources for finding places to put the water, hopefully, will protect us,” said Frankfort.
Post-Harvey, Frankfort rebuilt and elevated her home. She said she still has nightmares of the morning she had two feet of water in her home.
“A lot of thoughts, a lot of nightmares,” said Frankfort. “It’s just so devastating but until you’ve lived through. It it’s really hard to imagine losing absolutely everything.”
Black said while the flood projects should help, it will ultimately depend on how much rain falls.
“We are doing everything we can, but when we get harder and harder events like Harvey. We have to accept the fact that sometimes that risk exceeds the ability to protect them,” said Black.