HOUSTON – In a wide ranging talk before the Rotary Club of Houston, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett spoke about a number of topics of interest. He started by talking about his appreciation for the work that Rotary does in the community, and across the world. He gave examples from his own experience of how he has been touched by and involved in this work.
Then he spoke about the upcoming $2.5 billion bond issue that will be on the ballot in a special election on August 25th. He explained that the date is the one year anniversary of the devastation when Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast, causing flooding throughout Harris County and other parts of the state.
“Harvey changed a lot of lives,” he said. He noted that 154,000 homes in Harris County and Houston flooded. The Hurricane dropped 51” of rain in a four day period. Many homes were destroyed or made unlivable, and there were many deaths in the flood waters.
Emmett looked at the history of floods in the Houston area. In 1936 downtown was inundated by water, and as a result 2 reservoirs were built in the 40s as protection. But Hurricane Harvey exceeded the 100 year flood, and perhaps the 500 year flood.
Emmett talked about, and distributed a brochure, outlining 16 steps that need to be taken to make the county “resilient” and able to withstand future floods.
These steps include revised flood maps and regulations not allowing building in flood plains, a new third reservoir, completion of planned flood control projects, Lakes Houston and Conroe should be blood control facilities, underpasses that flood need to be signed, and blocked, buyout of homes at risk in the flood plain should be implemented, and existing reservoirs should be repaired and improved.
Emmett noted that the bond issue is necessary because the property tax is not enough to pay for this type of work. He thinks the county should receive part of the sales tax that the state collects.
Emmett also spoke about the plans for renovating the Astrodome into a usable park-like county facility, with recreation areas built over a 1400 car parking structure.