Tag Archive for: flood bond referendum

Watersheds with Low Voter Turnout Get Most Flood-Mitigation Funding

Sixth in a series of eight articles on flood-mitigation funding in Harris County

In August of 2018, Harris County voters approved a historic flood bond of $2.5 billion. Afterwards, KTRK ABC13 created an interactive precinct-by-precinct voter turnout map for the referendum.  Now, with spending data for flood mitigation projects in hand, we can see that, in general, but not in every case:

  • Watersheds with the highest turnout are getting the least money
  • Those with the lowest turnout are getting the most money.

Ironically, the worst-damaged areas generally had the lowest turnout.

Four Maps Tell Story

Let’s start by looking at four maps. They show: 

  • Location of six low-income watersheds used in a quartile analysis
  • Location of six six high-income watersheds used in the same analysis
  • Voter turnout for the 2018 Harris County flood-bond referendum
  • Damage from Harvey

Ironically, low-income watersheds had the lowest turnout for the 2018 flood-bond referendum and they’re getting the vast majority of flood mitigation funding.

Previous articles in this series have shown that, out of 23 watersheds in Harris County, six low-income watersheds:

Location of Lowest Income Watersheds

The low-income watersheds are all located primarily inside the Beltway.

Most of Greens Bayou is inside Beltway 8, though a portion of it wanders just outside.

Location of Watersheds with Highest Income

Now let’s look at the location of the six high-income watersheds.

High-income watersheds are all outside the beltway.

Who Approved that $2.5 Billion Flood Bond?

Now look at the voter turnout map below from the 2018 flood bond referendum. 

  • Light areas had the lowest voter turnout. 
  • Dark areas had the highest voter turnout. 

Note the area inside the yellow outline. It contains all the watersheds that Commissioners Ellis and Garcia complain about the most as having the least funding: Greens, Halls, Hunting, White Oak and Sims.

To see turnout in both absolute numbers and percentages in individual precincts, go to the interactive version of this map. Click on the visual above or here.

Some precincts in those watersheds had 0 voters. That’s right. No one showed up at the polls. At all. Many precincts had less than 1% turnout. Those light tan-colored areas generally had 1-5%. 

The darkest areas, such as those around Kingwood, had turnout in the 20 to 30% range – generally 5-20 times higher than in the neighborhoods where most of the money is going. 

In fact, Kingwood precincts had five of the top eight turnout percentages in the county. But Kingwood has NEVER received even ONE Harris County FLOOD CONTROL DISTRICT capital improvement project.

Damage Concentrations

Compare damage in Harvey (below) with the area outlined in yellow in the map above.

When you consider these four maps together with the historical funding data discussed in previous posts (see links below), they show that most of the money is already going where most of the damage was. 

But large pockets of damage exist elsewhere that get comparatively little to no funding.

For instance, in the map above, note the curving arc of damage along Cypress Creek in the northern part of the county which extends into the Humble/Kingwood area.

People in those damaged areas turned out in high percentages for the flood bond. But they are seeing the vast majority of flood-mitigation projects being built in neighborhoods that didn’t even bother to vote in many cases. That doesn’t bode well for future bonds referendums.

Misleading Statements Undermine Trust in Government and Future

Some political leaders are telling poor people that flood-mitigation projects are all going to rich neighborhoods and the Houston Chronicle blindly repeats what they say without checking the real numbers. Or even bothering to mention projects already completed.

Twitter feed of Chronicle writer who wrote the article above.

But as I’ve shown in previous articles (see links below), depending on how you measure it, up to three quarters of the money is actually flowing to poor neighborhoods.

Funding in six highest and lowest income quartiles.
Funding in six low income watersheds compared to 15 higher income watersheds

Certain Harris County commissioners have fought to prioritize funding for minority and low-income neighborhoods. And in the next Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday 6/29/21, they’re pushing to expand that prioritization framework to include future projects and funds. See Item 191 on the agenda.

Yet poor people believe all the money is going to rich watersheds – because that’s what their leaders tell them. And rich people see the lion’s share of the money going in the opposite direction.

Everyone believes someone else is getting the funding. So who would vote for another flood bond at this point? No one.

How are you going to convince people that taxed themselves $2.5 billion – and think they aren’t receiving any benefit from it – to vote for the next bond?

We need to restore trust in government by giving people accurate information, not misleading them with racial rhetoric for political gain. More on that tomorrow.

For More Information

For more information, see: 

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/26/2021

1397 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Voter Registration and Flood Bond Referendum

On August 25, Harris County residents will vote on a historic $2.5 billion flood-bond referendum. But are you eligible to vote? Don’t assume the answer is yes.

How Harvey May Have Affected Your Voting Rights

Many flood victims moved temporarily while their homes were being repaired. Voter registration cards cannot be forwarded, so your card may have been returned to the County registrar as “undeliverable.”

Also, records of people who failed to vote in the last two elections may have been purged.

If you fall into one of those categories, confirm your voter registration status at: https://www.hctax.net/Voter/Search.

If your name comes up with your voter registration ID, you should be good to vote. However, if your record says SUSPENSE or VOTER NOT FOUND, you are in danger of losing your right to vote.

If you aren’t listed as a registered voter in Harris County, you will not be able to vote.

Help Available at Flood Bond Meeting on July 10

Regardless of the cause, if your registration has lapsed or if you are new to the area, Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrars (VDVRs) will be available to help you at the Harris County Flood Bond Meeting on Tuesday, 7/10 from 5:30PM to 8:30PM at Kingwood Park High School. VDVRs will be there to help you confirm your status, update your record or re-register if necessary. VDVRs are not partisan and required by law to register anyone eligible to vote.

Options Available to You

If your voter ID card was returned to the tax office and you are “in suspense,” you must fill out a Statement of Residence (SOR) form.  After filing this form, you can still vote at the early voting sites, however, it is easier if you resolve issues before then.

Voting Dates

Election day is August 25, the anniversary of Harvey. The county clerk has not yet confirmed early voting dates. Polling places may change up until Election Day. Check here for your polling place.

Requirements to Vote

You must be registered in Harris County 30 days prior to the election to vote. You can vote anywhere only during early voting; on Election Day you can vote only at your assigned precinct location. You must show approved ID, or have reasonable cause as t0 why you do not have ID, and sign an affidavit to that fact.

Requests to vote by mail must arrive by mail or fax no later than the 11th day before the election. Ballots must be returned to the county clerk’s office no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.

Registration assistants will be at Kingwood Park High School one half hour before the meeting at 5:30 p.m. to help people check registrations and explain options if a problem exists.

Main Purpose of Meeting

The main purpose of the meeting on July 10 is for county officials to explain the referendum to voters and solicit voter input on the types of flood remediation efforts they think will help the most people in this area. Learn more at:

Lake Houston Chamber Launches Plea for DDG

Lake Houston Area’s Most Pressing Needs for Flood Bond Referendum

Top Priorities for Lake Houston Area Flood Mitigation

Bring Friends and Their Friends

A large turnout at this meeting will send a message to elected officials about how important we think flood mitigation is.

Sometime before the election, the Harris County Flood Control District will post the actual recommendations for each part of the county that will be included in the bond package that voters will vote on. Note: the current list is not final.

Meeting Details

Kingwood Park High School

July 10, 2018

6-8 pm

Doors open at 5:30 for voter registration assistance.


Posted 7/9/2018 by Bob Rehak

314 Days since Hurricane Harvey