Experts on flood problems in Houston: "It's definitely getting worse"

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Experts talk Houston's flood problems, Steve Campion reports. (KTRK)

The city of Houston faces extreme challenges when it comes to fighting severe flooding. As we've witnessed time and time again, our concrete jungle with all its pavement makes for a nightmare scenario. Preventing such historic flooding is going to be a difficult task, according to experts.

Dr. Samuel Brody with Texas A&M University has spent years studying the issue.

While he's optimistic about the city's future, he warns against the status quo.

"It's definitely getting worse. Our data shows it is getting worse," answered Brody, when asked about the trend. "We're subject to flooding from the sea and from the sky. We take that environment and we're putting more and more people, structures, and pavement into those vulnerable areas. That's driving the spiraling cost of flooding and the loss of lives in this area."

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His research revealed for every square meter of pavement there is an additional $4,000 of flood damage.

He added this isn't fiction.

"We're not simulating this. We're actually observing what's happening across the landscape," stressed Brody. "We're trying to tamper with pipes. If we wind something in one place, it's going to have an impact downstream. We need to think about the big picture."

Brody said flood control can't fix everything. He explained our issue is solvable by breaking it down with two words: elevation or relocation. First, build up. Literally raise those properties and valuables most impacted by the floodplain.

Secondly, pull back. Green space in low lying areas actually keeps us all safe.

Jay Blazek-Crossley with the think-tank "Houston Tomorrow" said urban sprawl funnels water where it shouldn't be and creates dangerous situations.

"These things work but we're pushing them to the limit by these stupid, unnecessary decisions that don't benefit all the people," said Crossley. "It's terrifying that we're paving over so much."

He pointed to the much-celebrated Grand Parkway as extremely troublesome.

"There are massive consequences to that. Basically, building a road like that, you convince a bunch of logical people to make the choice. Probably half a million people are going to live on the Katy prairie which used to be our flood protection, which used to be the natural sponge," said Crossley. "Because of that public decision to build the Grand Parkway a lot more water will scoot through the Katy prairie and head downstream."

For more information about whether you live in a floodplain and information about previous flood conditions, the Institute for Sustainable Coastal Communities created an interactive website.

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