How flood mitigation projects are finally reaching some neighborhoods in Aldine

Elyse Smith Image
Thursday, February 15, 2024
Flood mitigation efforts in N. Harris Co. begin after years of neglect
While some areas of Harris County received funding to help prevent flooding in the future, it's taken Aldine until now to get their money.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Six years after taxpayers passed the historic $2.5 billion flood control bond in 2018, residents in north Harris County are finally seeing funded projects in their neighborhoods.

Connie Esparza has lived in Aldine for over 40 years. Since 2001, her home has flooded three times, with each flood sending over a foot of water into her home. Esparza says she's thought about moving but doesn't know of a spot in the county that won't flood.

Flooding has and will always be an impact in Houston, and that's because of the landscape of Harris County. The county is flat, undergoing urban sprawl, and has impermeable clay soils. So if residents across the entire county have an equal shot of flooding depending on when and where the heavy rain falls, shouldn't all residents receive the same attention when it comes to preparing for future floods? As ABC13 meteorologist Elyse Smith found out, that hasn't always been the case.

Armando Walle is the state representative for the Aldine area in the Texas House. He credits recent work with both the Commissioner's Court and the Texas Water Development Board that changed how funding was allocated in Harris County. This is because what the government used to allocate funding for flood mitigation, known offhand as the cost-benefit ratio analysis, unequally distributed funds to more affluent neighborhoods.

"The zip code you live in shouldn't dictate where the dollars are being spent," Walle said. "Our people deserve just as much protection as other communities, and I'm not saying that other communities don't deserve it as well. We just felt over the years, we've been left out."

With that realization, government and community leaders re-evaluated how funds were distributed for flood mitigation projects across Harris County. That led to funding for a massive project in Connie's neighborhood of Castlewood, which included lowering the street level, burying massive pipes, adding a sidewalk, and building a barrier to protect the entrance to Greens Bayou in her subdivision. This was completed in 2022, along with another project that added a large stormwater detention basin for Greens Bayou as well.

Up next is a brand new $18 million project to put in a stormwater detention basin that will run along Halls Bayou. Now, Connie's hopeful that she and her community in Aldine will have a better chance when the heavy rains come. "(It's) a total sense of relief and a sense of loss of trauma," Connie said describing what that flood mitigation gave her and her neighbors.

ABC13's partners at the First Street Foundation found that over 65% of homes and businesses in the Aldine area are still at major risk of flooding at least once over the next 30 years. So while we can't stop the next flood, crucial steps like these to implement flood mitigation will greatly help prevent floodwaters from reaching properties and increase our quality of life.


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