Flood Relief Plan Aims to Speed Up Projects

Houston City Council is being asked Wednesday to consider a first-of-its-kind agreement to speed up funding for flood control measures along local bayous.

Mayor Sylvester Turner says the payment plan would have the state loan the city $46 million, money which would then be forwarded to the Harris County Flood Control District for work along Brays Bayou.

If approved, the funding process would be repeated for two other bayous.

“My hope is that you will, after this is completed, no longer have to rush to get furniture and carpet off the floors when heavy rain is forecast,” Mayor Turner said Tuesday.  “Once we finish here, we will move to the other areas of Houston that have suffered.”

“We can never guarantee that we will eliminate flooding, but certainly we can work to mitigate the risk,” he says.

The tentative plan was a collaboration between the city, county and state.

“Its far too easy for people to say well, we just live on the Gulf Coast and we're just going to flood,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.  “The mayor does not accept that.  The city doesn't accept that.  I don't accept that.  Harris County doesn't accept that.  None of the members of Congress accept that.”

Still, more than 30 houses in Houston's Meyerland neighborhood flooded once again during heavy rains overfilled Brays Bayou this month.  For some homeowners, it was the third or fourth time in just the past couple years.

“Part of it is concrete lined, we're not touching that piece of the bayou which was done by the Army Corps many years back,” says Russ Poppe, executive director of the Harris County Flood Control District

“What we're looking at now is the earthen portions of the channel above that, that's the portion which is being widened, and so as the channel is being widened, we have to look at all the bridges as well.”

Poppe says channel work from the Meyerland area to Fondren could take up to two years to complete.

“We will be looking at how, if and when we want to put gated structures on them,” he says.  “That's something I will be dealing with at the Flood Control District as well as with Public Works.”

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