To reduce catastrophic risks, projects should be completed before next disaster strikes
AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Insider Report) — With only days remaining in the 2019 Legislative Session, lawmakers in both the House & Senate are scrambling to make sure one of the state’s most important initiatives – legislation making Texas, its residents and its communities more flood-disaster ready – gets over the Goal Line.
Hurricane Harvey was the worst storm in U.S. history – and it exposed serious weaknesses in Texas’ infrastructure. Nearly two years after Harvey ravaged the Texas Coast, the Texas House & Senate are considering crucial legislation to allocate more than $3 billion to help pay for Flood Control Projects statewide.
One of the most crucial aspects of Sen. Perry’s effort requires funding the investments necessary for watershed-scale flood planning and flood-control initiatives – including pre-disaster mitigation and flood resiliency improvements.
Over the past decade, Texas has experienced 11 flood-events that received Presidential Disaster Declarations. These events cost the state and local communities – not to mention its residents – billions of dollars. It upended communities and infrastructure, and led 1,000’s of Texans to be forced to live in temporary tent-housing, which in some instance continues today.
And just earlier this month, more flooding in areas of southeast Texas forced teachers and students to remain at school overnight, and resulted in more than 250 calls from residents for high water rescues.
As with any similar natural disaster, federal dollars and assistance is a key driver of response recovery – not to mention planning against such disasters in the future.
As residents all across the Texas Gulf Coast, as well as areas further inland now know, as an increased demand for federal resources arises, it is necessary for there to be state funding in place to provide the initial recovery assistance before federal mitigation funds can be drawn down. Limited resources must be invested and put in place prior to the disasters so that people, their property, local communities, and critical recovery services are not put at risk again.
This can include projects that elevate repeatedly flooded
homes, remove properties from floodplains, enhance stormwater management
systems, or use non-structural, nature-based solutions that store flood waters,
such as restoring wetlands and streams.
Flood mitigation is a promising, forward-thinking approach to help break the painful cycle of damage and repair, and research now shows that the nation saves $6 for every dollar spent on these types of investments.
But mitigation projects are only effective when they have been put in place ahead of the disaster.
In order to reduce the catastrophic risks, such projects should be completed before the disasters strike to make sure Texas is more flood-ready – and resilient.
As emphasized in the “Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas” Report, legislators know that flood waters do not respect political boundaries.
The legislature is to be applauded for advancing the proposals to initiate state flood planning on a comprehensive river basin or watershed basis, and these proposals are an important step toward limiting future losses, which will pay significant dividends to Texas in the long-run.
Will legislators take the final steps to pass legislation dedicating funds for pre-disaster mitigation projects and help lessen the damaging effects of the next big storm?
The Texas State House and Senate should to whatever necessary to ensure that state funding is in place – guaranteeing that flood mitigation projects have been invested in – in order to reduce the damage of future floods and save Texas lives in the future.
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Source: Texas Politics