Flooding in Houston has been a major concern for several years now, especially after the overwhelming amount of damaged caused by 2017’s Hurricane Harvey.
During Harvey, Houston was hit with record-breaking amounts of rainfall and suffered an estimated $1.25B worth of damage, with at least 68 storm-related deaths as well. The National Hurricane Center called Harvey, “the most significant tropical cyclone rainfall event in United States history, both in scope and peak rainfall amounts since reliable rainfall records began around the 1880s.”
There are almost no words to describe the complete turmoil that Harvey created, but if there’s one positive effect of the storm, it’s the new precautions the city is taking to prevent such disaster from striking again.
Post-Hurricane Harvey flood prevention in Houston
Earlier this spring, the City of Houston published a press release* announcing flood prevention reforms taking place in 2018.
Current laws require new construction to sit 1 foot above the 100-year floodplain (land that’s expected to flood 1 year out of every 100 years). After new regulations take effect on September 1, however, newly constructed homes in Houston will be required to sit 2 feet above the 500-year floodplain. This means that even in areas less likely to experience flooding, newly constructed homes will soon be required to meet stricter standards to prevent a repeat of the extreme damage we saw after Harvey.
Additionally, the city is finally nearing completion on Project Brays, and Mayor Turner is fighting for Congress to vote on the construction of a third reservoir in Houston.
With June 1 marking the official beginning of Texas’ hurricane season, it’s still too early to know what to expect in 2018. One thing we do know for certain at this point is Houston is taking the steps to better prepare for potential flooding in the future, and we will continue to see more improvements in how the city prevents disaster.
In a letter to Mayor Turner, Roy Wright (FEMA’s deputy associate administrator for insurance and mitigation) wrote, “For the nation to be more resilient, many communities will take these forward-leaning steps. We will be looking to Houston to lead the nation in its resilience and capacity to shape policies that keep citizens safe through all hazards.” Those who experienced the recent flooding in Houston first-hand will likely agree with Wright’s sentiment: after all, Houston is a strong city, and considering recent events, it only makes sense that we demonstrate that strength to the rest of the country.
Flooding in Houston: what to expect in the future
Currently, the estimated completion date for Project Brays is set for 2021. At the very least, Houstonians can be hopeful that this construction, in addition to newly updated building codes, will prove effective in preventing significant flood damage during the years to come.
Though there’s still uncertainty surrounding the third reservoir’s construction, knowing the City is prioritizing flood prevention can at least give Houstonians some peace of mind.
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