Wharton wants levee to prevent repeated flooding

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Wharton plans for levee to prevent repeated flooding
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Wharton has waited 20 years for a levee to prevent flooding.

WHARTON, Texas (KTRK) -- City leaders in Wharton have a solution to the town's flood risk, which Congress approved in 2007, but never funded. The city's flooded three times since then.

After major floods nearly 20 years ago, the city worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the comprehensive flood protection plans. The feasibility study, environmental studies and more have been completed. The plans would add two, miles-long levees and other safeguards.

Current estimates put the price tag at $77 million, according to city leaders.

"Damages (from Hurricane Harvey flooding) will probably surpass the 77 million dollars," city manager Andres Garza said. "We just can't get them to fund it."

Garza said the plan under the corps of engineers requires the city to fund a percentage of the project. Wharton has already funded about $4 million for a small portion to protect the east side of town.

They're also set to borrow $6.5 million from state agencies to fund another portion, Garza said.

"We need the federal government to follow through," he said. "We will keep asking and asking."

Homeowner A.B. Allen's home has flooded five times including last month when nearly half of Wharton's 3200 homes were damaged. He's heard the promises of flood prevention before.

"They've been claiming they're going to do this and do that but you know how that goes," Allen said.

Their home is undergoing the same repairs now as it did after the flood last year, and the year before.

"I wish they could do something because this is hard living like this" Allen said.

Garza said he understands residents concerns and city officials are frustrated too.

"This is the only solution that we have. There is no other solution," he said.

City leaders said their federal representatives don't seem too interested either.

Congressman Blake Farenthold, who represents the area, has not responded to ABC13's requests for comment.

On Thursday during a city council meeting, mayor Tim Barker began drafting a letter to President Trump asking him to help secure funding.

Garza said forgotten or not, Wharton will recover.

"It will bounce back just like it has in the past," he said.

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