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Greater Houston Area Officials Brainstorm ‘Reverse 911’ Flood Warning System

With hurricane season approaching, officials hope to create the system “soon”

Region officials from Harris, Waller, Fort Bend, and Galveston counties discuss a flooding alert system on April 2, 2018.

Officials are trying to find a new way to warn the region of incoming floods described as a “reverse 9-1-1.”

At a planning session led by Harris County Judge Ed Emmettofficials from Harris, Waller, Galveston, and Fort Bend counties, as well as the San Jacinto River Authority and the City of Houston discussed ways to better inform residents of potential flooding.

Emmett said he wants the project to be done in the “short term,” given that hurricane season is two months away. In order for that to happen, he said, counties and other authorities will have to work together. 

“Everything we do has to be regional although we’re organized by county and we have county lines and city boundaries and city limits and all that, but we have to understand that water doesn’t have boundaries,” Emmett said. “It’s gonna go where it’s gonna go.”

Emmett then pointed out the main problem with current flood warning systems.

“Yes we have systems but so many of those systems as good as they are they require people to directly get involved, to go on a website, to do their own research,” Emmett said. 

Officials also pointed out problems with funding— namely, that county revenue streams are limited to property and sales tax. The warning system’s cost has not yet been decided.

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Davis Land

Davis Land

General Assignments Reporter

Davis Land is a general assignment reporter for Houston Public Media. He cut his teeth at Atlantic Public Media/Transom.org in Woods Hole, MA and at WBUR in Boston. His work has appeared on various public radio programs and podcasts including Texas Standard, Here and Now, and Marketplace. Davis is a...

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