Houston-Area District Expects $155M in Damage Study, Repairs

The Houston-area flood control district has estimated needing $155 million to study and fix damaged infrastructure after Hurricane Harvey.

Workers this week are assessing the storm's destruction to the Harris County Flood Control District's 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers) of bayous, creeks and drainage ditches, the Houston Chronicle reported . The surveys began earlier this month after the Commissioners Court voted to spend $12.5 million to study the damage.

The district estimated there are 1,200 "individual damage sites" throughout the county. Sites include several areas along Hunting Bayou where Harvey stormwater destabilized the bank by washing away dirt. Trash and vegetation along the Halls Bayou have created blockages were water used to flow freely.

Damage can restrict bayous or pipes from effectively holding or conveying runoff during heavy storms, which can negatively affect nearby bridges and utility lines.

Local officials want to finance the majority of repairs through federal grants, said Matthew Zeve, the district's director of operations. No grants have been secured, but the district is starting work that could be reimbursed, he said.

Repairs could begin later this year and complete in 2019, according to the district.

Zeve said the district is always working on repairs to the network, including before Harvey hit in August.

"You have 2,500 miles of channels," Zeve said. "I think it's not realistic to expect everything to be fixed."

Grant money is typically more accessible immediately after disasters, but it often requires help from local governments.

Harris County could see grants covering around $97 million of the $155 million in estimated repairs. Commissioners are considering a proposed more than $1 billion bond referendum.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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