Flood mitigation projects brought on by Hurricane Harvey expected to cost more than planned

Nick Natario Image
Friday, May 12, 2023
Flood mitigation project still underway but more resources needed
Harris County taxpayers are footing the bill for billions in flood mitigation projects that were brought on by Hurricane Harvey.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- It's going to cost even more than expected to finish the remaining flood mitigation projects brought on after Hurricane Harvey.

Widening streets and trading ditches for drains have made a difference in a north Harris County neighborhood.

"It means a lot to me because I don't see water on the streets," Amparo Medina explained. "I don't see no ditches. No green water on the ditches, and it was dangerous for the kids."

SEE ALSO: After $1B spent on flood control projects, why we may not know if they're working

This project was brought on after Hurricane Harvey, the historic storm that flooded many parts of Harris County.

It triggered neighbors to approve spending billions on flood mitigation projects. The plan calls for 181 areas to be improved. So far, 25 are done, with even more on the way.

"Over one-third are either actively in construction or about to go into construction," Harris County Flood Control District interim deputy director Scott Elmer said.

Finishing the final projects may be more challenging. The flood control district told Eyewitness News the $5 billion price tag has risen because the cost of goods has increased. They don't know what the new number is yet.

"We're trying to be good stewards of the taxpayer money and look for partnership funding as much as possible," Elmer said.

That extra cost will still come from taxpayers, but they hope to use federal and state tax dollars and not ask for another county bond. Leaders plan to present county commissioners with an updated cost by the end of the year.

SEE ALSO: Harris County will receive $750 million after all to go toward preventing flooding after Harvey

With projects completed, we may not know how well they work. There hasn't been a major rainfall event in more than two and a half years. If there was one soon, we asked how the completed work would make a difference.

"I think what you'll see is it's going to make a lot of benefits, and they will hold up," Elmer said.

These are words neighbors hope to hold true because while projects have improved drainage, a hurricane could prove different.

"I have great confidence that this neighborhood will not flood no more because it has flooded several times," Medina said.

It's a scenario neighbors hope won't happen due to widened streets and ditches replaced by drains.

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