Harris County officials tackle Harvey-related concerns

County officials answered questions Monday related to the rebuilding of Houston-area communities after Harvey.

HOUSTON - So far, Harris County has removed 500,000 cubic yards of storm debris..

“We are approximately on first pass about 50 percent complete, and as I said, first pass is the largest,” said Harris County engineer John Blount.

There will be three passes in front of each home, and the goal is to complete all the street pickup within four months of the storm.

Another huge question was buyouts for flooded homes. That is done with FEMA money and administered by county.

“In 20 years, we've acquired about 3,000 parcels underneath our voluntary buyout,” said Russ Poppe, Harris County Flood Control District director. “Since Harvey hit, we've received about 3,000 inquiries.”

So Harvey inquiries are equal to the number of total previous buyouts.  County officials are urging FEMA to speed up the process that can take up to a year so flood victims don't waste money repairing properties that would be bought out.

Sadly, Houston has gotten national attention, not just for Harvey, but for our flood control preparedness. Some have blamed politician and developers from years ago. But as with most things, there is blame to go around.

“Could we have spent more and avoided some of the flooding? Sure. Did the taxpayers want to have higher taxes to do that? No,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.

The bottom line, experts say, is Harvey was a historic storm. In Clear Creek, it was a one in 20,000-plus-year event.

“Roughly over the four-day period for Harvey, the county averaged 33-and-a-half inches of that. That’s roughly 69 percent of what we seen in an annual basis in the county,” said Jeff Lindner, HCFCD meteorologist.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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