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Grassroots Organization Looks At Where To Find The Money For Flood Mitigation

A proposed Harris County bond issue is one of the issues being discussed

At a meeting in Houston’s Near Northside neighborhood people gathered to talk about the things they see around town that contribute to flooding.

Environmental attorney Jim Blackburn is the founder of a new grassroots organization called Bayou City Initiative. He said the goal is to bring Houstonians together to share information and look for possible solutions to the region’s flooding woes.

Blackburn added that Houston and Harris County have made some positive regulatory changes following Harvey and other floods but he doesn’t think there’s a real sense of urgency.

“Our economic future as a city is on the line here, not to mention our lives and property,” said Blackburn. “I don’t think I’m seeing enough of an emphasis on just how serious this is for our future.”

Blackburn said the group will also consider issues of fairness and equity when it comes to how flood mitigation money is being distributed in local communities.

“With regard to buyouts, if you buy out low-income areas and there’s no affordable housing, you’re not necessarily helping anybody,” explained Blackburn. “So we’ve got to begin to link things that haven’t been traditionally linked.”

One of the topics of discussion at the Near Northside meeting was a proposed Harris County bond issue that would pay for buyouts and flood control projects. And Blackburn said that’s of major importance since the region can’t totally rely on the federal government for money.

Linda Cohn with the League of Women Voters said whatever goes into that bond issue could affect generations to come.

“All elections are always about the future whether you’re talking about candidates or ballot issues,” said Cohn. “This one seems so immediate given the disruptions of the past year.”

As for urgent projects for the Houston region, Blackburn said there needs to be a third reservoir. He also called for more improvements on flood-prone Brays and Hunting Bayous.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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