It has been 247 days since Harvey hit. Though we still have a long way to go, this week we saw some steps towards building for a flood-free future in our region.
In the Kingwood area I attended a promising meeting on how we can start to protect our community from flooding threats. A group of committed public servants from the National Weather Service, Harris County Flood Control District, the San Jacinto River Authority, and FEMA (that’s local, state and federal organizations) spent three hours providing information and answering questions from 50 or more concerned citizens in our region.
We were alerted to the meeting by the work of the Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative, a group whose leaders I met with two weeks ago, and their highly informative web site, reduceflooding.com.
These community leaders and informed citizens have become experts on the flow of waters into the San Jacinto River, its East and West Forks, and the Lake Houston area. They know how the waters flow from Lake Conroe into the West Fork of the San Jacinto and from the far western part of Harris County all the way across the county into the West Fork and the Kingwood area. They know where the gages are that measure water flow, which ones work and which ones don’t, and where we need additional gages and measurements to protect our community.
Unfortunately, they also know the impact of flood waters on their homes and their communities, and how the threat of rising flood waters wasn’t clearly communicated to so many in our region.
In the months since Harvey hit, we’ve frankly seen too little investment in building the infrastructure we need to protect our people and our property from the disastrous effects of flooding. We’ve repeatedly seen this devastation in our region over the last three years, and we can’t simply hope for no rain or hurricane this year.
It’s news to nobody that Harris County is a flat area. Houston was built on a swamp, and we have thousands of miles of rivers, bayous, and tributaries running through Harris County and TX-02. In order to avoid the type of flooding we’ve experienced the last three years, we have to build stronger, smarter, and more flexible than most regions.
We can do it, and we will do it, but it will take leaders with the willingness to reach across the aisle, to partner with both public and private entities, and, most importantly, to learn from the members of our community who are directly affected by the flooding we have too routinely experienced.
In short, it will take leaders that believe government can work with the people, and for the people, to build the infrastructure we need to provide a safe and secure future for our community. I believe that.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting with people affected by the flooding in all different regions of TX-02, and we look forward to sharing what we’ve learned and heard in the coming weeks as we bring people together to build a better future for our community.
The people of TX-02 deserve a representative in Congress who will do this work in our community. With your vote and your support, I pledge to be a Congressman who will be accessible and accountable to every person in TX-02.