An analysis of Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) and partner spending since 2000 reveals striking contrasts between watersheds in terms of where flood-mitigation dollars have gone.
Watersheds vary as much as 130 to 1 since 2000 and almost as much since Harvey. Most watersheds remained relatively constant in the rankings during the different time periods. However, a few have shifted up or down a few positions as land was acquired for projects or construction kicked off.
Data below includes spending by HCFCD and its partners from 1/1/2000 to 6/30/2023.
Main Takeaways from the Data
The big stories:
- Since 2000, the top four watersheds received more flood-mitigation dollars than all 19 others put together. The top four include: Brays, Greens, and White Oak Bayous, and Cypress Creek.
- Since Harvey the top four received 48%.
- The distribution of funds continues to show the impact of Harris County’s Equity Prioritization framework.
San Jacinto Gets Above Average Damage, Below Average Funding
The San Jacinto ranks below the averages (before 2000 and since Harvey) for flood-mitigation dollars – despite ranking 8th in damaged structures among all 23 watersheds. Damage totals include five major storms (Allison, Memorial Day, Tax Day, Harvey and Imelda).
Watersheds Ranked by Funding Since 2000
Here’s how the funding looks in graphs and tables. All data was obtained from HCFCD via FOIA requests.
Here’s the actual data if you want to see exactly how much your watershed received.
Watersheds Ranked by Funding Since Harvey
Now let’s look at the how spending shifted after Harvey. Not much, at least relatively speaking.
Here are the actual totals for each watershed shown in the graph above.
Feet above Flood Stage
Now let’s look at the severity of flooding. The chart below measures feet above flood stage at different Harris County gages.
Flood Stage is the level at which a river, stream or channel comes out of its banks.
I compiled this chart from data in the Harris County Flood Warning System website.
That 20+ feet above flood stage at the San Jacinto West Fork and US59 was the highest I found in the county.
Damage to Infrastructure
That 20+ feet destroyed Kingwood College, Kingwood High School, all of the businesses in Kingwood Town Center and Kings Harbor, the southbound lanes of US59, the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge, Memorial Hermann’s new Convenient Care Center, sewage treatment plants, and a senior housing complex.
Six years after Harvey, many of the commercial areas in Kingwood still haven’t fully recovered. Anchor stores remain empty in three of five shopping centers on Kingwood Drive between Town Center and US59.
Achieving True Equity
While I’m sympathetic to the plight of poorer neighborhoods, I cringe at the self-serving definition of equity used by a Democratic-dominated Commissioners Court to deny funding to the hardest hit area in the county.
We need a system that’s fair to all, not just some. Anything less will perpetuate racial distrust. This is a public safety issue and public safety should not be politicized.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/30/23
2223 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.