flood bond update may 2022

Progress Reports on New Floodplain Maps and Flood Bond

On Tuesday, 5/24/22, the Flood Control District transmitted updates on two projects (MAAPNext and the 2018 Flood Bond) to Harris County Commissioners. New Flood Insurance Rate Maps (floodplain maps) should be released within the next six months. In related news, the entire northeastern part of Harris County is still getting less than one thousandth of one percent of all active construction spending on bond projects.

For more detail read on.

MAAPNext Data Still Being Validated

MAAPNext stands for the next-level Modeling, Assessment and Awareness Project. In the wake of back-to-back-to-back 500-year floods in 2015, 2016, and 2017, it became clear that the floodplain maps which guided development in Harris County woefully underestimated the real flood risk in the region.

In response, the Harris County Flood Control District, NOAA and FEMA launched the MAAPNext project. It began by acquiring new, more accurate topographic (elevation) data for every watershed in the county and surrounding areas. They used LiDAR data with 9 times more resolution than the maps developed after Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.

Harris County Flood Control District then modeled updated rainfall probability statistics (Atlas-14 data) from NOAA against the terrain data.

FEMA is now reviewing the results and validating data. Within the next few months, FEMA will release new floodplain maps. This graphic shows the timetable and stages.

HCFCD has completed its part of the work and estimates FEMA has completed 20% of its at this point.

Preliminary Maps Coming in Few Months

FEMA should release PRELIMINARY Flood Insurance Rate Maps this summer or fall. After the release, expect a series of public meetings. During those meetings, partners will explain the results and the public will get a chance to ask questions and/or protest the results.

For instance, some people may have raised the elevation of their buildings since development of the new maps. Maps that do not reflect such improvements could raise flood insurance rates.

Other people will no doubt question the validity of the data, because expanded floodplains may adversely affect their property values. People who have received no flood mitigation help so far from the bond will suffer more in this regard than those who have.

Following the public comment and review periods, FEMA will revise floodplain maps as necessary and then release final versions. It could take another 3+ years before we see final maps.

In the meantime, you should assume that the old floodways will expand into the 100-year floodplain and the 100-year floodplain will expand into the 500-year floodplain.

So it’s best to get flood insurance now if you don’t have it. Remember, if you are in the 100-year floodplain, your chance of flooding during the life of a 30-year mortgage is about 1 in 4. And a lot of people don’t yet realize they live in a floodplain!

To see the full MAAPNext update, click here.

Flood Bond Now 21% Complete

HCFCD also released its May update on the progress of 2018 flood-bond projects last week. Through the end of April 2022, the District has completed 21.3% of the bond program.

The District has spent $1.025 billion out of about $5 billion in bond and partner funds. Spending breaks down like this:

  • $533 million in Bond Funds
  • $356 million in Grants
  • $136 in other Local Funds.
Where HCFCD spent a billion dollars.

The update acknowledges the $2.2 million grant from the Texas Water Development Board for the second phase of the Lauder Stormwater Detention Basin on Greens Bayou. Supposedly, Phase 2 has already started construction, though I could see little more than road work last week.

Other projects starting construction last month included:

  • Bayside Terrace Subdivision Drainage Improvements
  • Barker Watershed Repairs

Active construction of capital improvement projects totaled $236 million in May. Out of that, the entire northeastern part of the county still had only $2,000. That’s right. $2 thousand out of $236 million. That’s 0.0008%.

To see the entire flood bond update, click here.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/29/2022

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