FLOOD PROBLEMS: Experts give city of Houston's drainage system a failing grade

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Experts give Houston's drainage system a failing grade, Erica Simon has more. (KTRK)

It was a packed house at Rice University for the Urban Flooding and Infrastructure Conference. People listened and took notes as flood researchers presented their findings.

"It's about trying to find solutions to the problems that we have all experienced," Dr. Jim Blackburn said.

Those problems came to a head back in August with Hurricane Harvey. The 50-plus inches of rain our area received wore on Houston's drainage system and delivered a big blow to infrastructure.

It also taught us that H-Town wasn't designed very well.

"The problem in Houston is pretty bad. We decided to build our city in swampy area. We decided to build our city somewhere where we have really extreme rainfalls," said Antonia Sebastian, a post-doctoral researcher at Rice.

Blackburn, co-director for SSPEED - or Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters center at Rice -- is passionate about what he does.

He showed a number of slides that broke down the different watershed zones. He also discussed how lower-income parts of town don't always have the same amount of flood control resources pumped into them as wealthier areas.

As for the City's drainage system, he personally rates it an "F."

Out of that frustration comes the Bayou Initiative, a new non-profit made of community members determined to design a flood-resistant city. Blackburn believes it's up to groups like that and all of us to get results.

"We've got to up our game, we've got to protect the public and the public is going to demand it if we don't give it to them," he said.

ABC13 asked Houston officials about flood control plans and they directed us to rebuildhouston.org. There, you can find all the current flood-related projects going on right now.

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