Remember Harvey? Houston remains unprepared for the next big flood. [Editorial]
There’s something uniquely Houston about the fact that one of the most flamboyant celebrations the city ever held was in commemoration of a bayou infrastructure project.
In 1914, upon completion of the Houston Ship Channel, city leaders organized a massive carnival on the scale of Mardis Gras, which involved hundreds of revelers riding decorated floats down Buffalo Bayou, a football game between Texas A&M and Rice (final score: A&M, 32; Rice 7) and a cannon to be fired via telegraph by President Woodrow Wilson himself. The Deep Water Jubilee, as it was known, may seem like an over-the-top way to mark a glorified dredging project — but it was an appropriate response to Houston’s single most important piece of 20th century infrastructure.
Don’t expect a similar celebration for post-Hurricane Harvey infrastructure plans. We’re nowhere near completing the projects that Houston needs. Keep that in mind as the Texas Legislature prepares to pass a trio of Harvey recovery bills targeting the next generation of bayou work, emergency response plans and flood management.
That’s not to say Senate Bills 6, 7 and 8 — and the Senate Bill 500 that funds the whole thing — are a bad package. Texas should be impressed, and relieved, that the three key bills sped through the Senate. Senate Bill 6 will ensure that localities plan for the next big storm, requiring training and planning for the inevitable cleanup and recovery. Senate Bill 7 creates mechanisms to tap $1.6 billion in state dollars to help finance flood projects and speed local governments’ ability to tap federal dollars. That’s less than the $3 billion plan advocates say we need, but it’s a good start. Senate Bill 8 creates a statewide flood plan to coordinate related projects across Texas. Water doesn’t recognize political boundaries. Neither should our floodwater infrastructure.
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