“Hurricane Harvey cost the Houston region 83 lives and over $120 billion in economic damages” said Melanie Lawson, anchor for ABC 13 and the Master of ceremonies for the Houston Stronger Conference. The conference was held on May 31st at HCC’s West Houston Institute, and aimed to bring community members together with community leaders who have valuable information on why Harris County is holding a special bond election on August 25th.
The Houston Stronger Coalition estimates that Harris county needs approximately $35 billion in flood control infrastructure which translates to a need for the $2.5 billion bond for local match. Houston Stronger is also calling on government assistance for residents who flooded and need help with the relocation or repair of their homes.
Russ Poppe, Executive Director for the Harris County Flood Control District, and Marvin Odum, the City’s Chief Recovery Officer, joined Lawson on stage to answer some important questions regarding further flood prevention and funding.
“Our residents are demanding that projects be done more quickly, and I think the [August 25th] bond that were looking at will certainly offer an avenue for that,” said Poppe.
He also used Sims Bayou as a good example of how we know that these flood control projects work. After Sims was finished in 2015, the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses have seen very little of any bayou flooding.
“Knowing the order and prioritizing projects is very Important so that we can all work together on a solution,” added Odum.
Constable Phil Sandlin reminded us all of the unpredictable nature of planning for such an unprecedented storm. “You never know which area is going to take on water first. So, I tried to spread my personnel all over the precinct, that means sheltering them in schools, churches and our two stations.”
“We have got to make our community resilient [because] this is going to keep happening,” said Judge Ed Emmett while explaining the impact of the word resilience and how Hurricane Harvey has brought it to the forefront of most conversations when asked how the region plans to move forward. “This is [likely] the most important issue I’ve faced in my lifetime.”
“Companies aren’t going to come to Houston due to this risk and our people are scared,” he echoed. A sentiment reiterated by the Mayors Statement from a few weeks prior.
Emmett then took the time to explain his “formula” for what is resilence. (2P+2R)(PPr) or (Prevention and Planning + Response, and Recovery) backed by (Policies and Priorities). “If you don’t put Resources behind all of these things, nothing is going to happen,” he urged.
Overall, the event was a great success and we appreciate all of our speakers and our moderator Ms. Lawson for joining us. For more information or to watch a full recap video go to http://houstonstronger.net/houston-stronger-conference/ or visit the Houston Stronger Facebook page.