County projects aim to limit flooding

February 15, 2008 4:35:35 PM PST
With the heavy rain and storms expected over the weekend, county leaders have already been working to prepare for possible flooding.The possibility of flooding has always been a concern along Harris County bayous. Changes made in the last several years, though, are expected to help protect neighborhoods from a soggy fate.

If you look at some homes along Brays Bayou, you can see the changes ? raised foundations in the flood wake of Tropical Storm Allison seven years ago. In some neighborhoods at least, there have been no floods since.

Resident Richard Christianson said, "I notice the county has put in retention ponds."

Harris County flood control is in the midst of a retention and detention pond construction boom. Keith Weiss Park is a detention pond that doubles as a wetlands area. It is half the size of the Astrodome. That's how much flood water it can hold.

"That's why we see these detention basins popping up all over the county," said Heather Saucier with Harris County Flood Control. "They're really successful at storing that water and keeping people safe from flooding."

More projects are underway around Armand Bayou, Halls Bayou and Hunting Bayou, covering all quadrants of the county. About $125 million a year in federal and county money now goes to flood control projects. It's no guarantee against homes flooding, but it may mean the damage won't be as bad.

The most successful project so far has been Sims Bayou, which notoriously flooded in the 1980s. The recurrences have been markedly diminished since the bayou has been expanded and more retention ponds have been built.

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