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Preventing Flooding in Meyerland: Thursday’s Show (July 9, 2015)

This week, Brazos Bend State Park reopened. It was closed for several weeks due to flood damage. It’s just one of many areas in and around Greater Houston that contended with flooding over Memorial Day weekend, prompted by a strong, fast-developing and sustained storm, which dropped up to 11 inches of rain over the area in […]

This week, Brazos Bend State Park reopened. It was closed for several weeks due to flood damage. It’s just one of many areas in and around Greater Houston that contended with flooding over Memorial Day weekend, prompted by a strong, fast-developing and sustained storm, which dropped up to 11 inches of rain over the area in a matter of hours.

Perhaps no neighborhood suffered more damage than Meyerland. Hundreds of homes were flooded; far more suffered damage than have in past storms. Meyerland is thought of as a flood-prone area. The neighborhood was built on what were rice fields, next to a bayou which had its meander removed to make room for development. On this edition of Houston Matters, we consider what can be done to minimize damage in Meyerland from future floods. We learn about Project Brays, an ambitious Harris County Flood Control District construction project.

Also this hour:  Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new law changing how grand juries are selected in Texas. Previously, judge-appointed commissioners picked grand jurors in a system sometimes referred to as “pick-a-pal.” Critics said the commissioners tended to select jurors who share their backgrounds, making it less likely grand juries would reflect the diversity of their respective communities. Starting September 1st, grand juries will be randomly selected from lists of licensed drivers and registered voters – the same way juries are selected for criminal and civil trials. We learn how the new law works as we talk with Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg, who garnered a Pulitzer Prize for her examination of the outgoing system. (Lisa is also one of our rotating panelists on Friday’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly).

Then: Living in a sprawling metropolitan area like Greater Houston, it might be easy to think that there’s no such thing as uncharted territory. But in the dense rain forests of Honduras, there’s quite a bit of territory that hasn’t been seen by humankind in centuries. Now, a group of researchers based at the University of Houston is making exploration of such places a lot easier, using lasers in their search for a fabled lost ancient city. Michael Hagerty will explain.

Plus: Jack Parrish is a NOAA Flight Meteorologist. He’s a part of a team from NOAA called “hurricane hunters.” They’re the folks who hop on board a plane to fly towards tropical storms as they’re forming to take a look, conduct tests and send data to other meteorologists on the ground. Paige Phelps spoke with Parrish a few weeks back, when the tropical depression that later (for a brief time) became Tropical Storm Bill — was heading towards the Gulf Coast. They discuss the science of prediction and what it’s like to be inside that plane traveling toward — and sometimes into — a massive storm.

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