Texas General Land Office Commissioner Calls for Direct Flood Mitigation Grant of $ 750 Million to Harris County

County officials say 40% of the $ 125 billion in damage from Hurricane Harvey occurred in Harris County. (Shawn Arrajj / Community Impact Journal)

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include a comment from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

Texas General Bureau of Lands Commissioner George P. Bush on May 26 requested a direct allocation of $ 750 million to Harris County for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s flood mitigation efforts, according to a press release.

The request comes less than a week after Texas GLO informed Harris County and City of Houston leaders that no entity had received funding for flood mitigation from Hurricane Harvey.

As previously stated by Community impact journal, the Harris County Flood Control District submitted $ 915 million in grant applications last October in hopes of receiving federal funds earmarked in 2018 for hurricane flood mitigation efforts. Harvey in 2017. County officials said 40% of the $ 125 billion in damage from Hurricane Harvey occurred in Harris County.

However, Harris County and City of Houston officials learned on May 21 that neither entity would receive any money from the first round of funding allocated by the Texas GLO. Harris County officials said they believed the entities were left out because the formula the Texas GLO used to determine which grant applications would receive funding discriminated against large urban areas. like Harris County and the City of Houston.

At the Harris County Commissioners’ Court meeting on May 25, more than 50 residents voiced their opposition to the Texas GLO ruling for nearly six hours; the court then adopted a series of measures, also opposing the decision.

The next day, Bush announced his request for a direct allocation of $ 750 million to Harris County for flood mitigation efforts.

“I have heard overwhelming concerns from Harris County over competition for mitigation funding,” Bush said in a statement. “The complex administrative requirements and regulations of the federal government are a hallmark of President Biden’s administration. I am no stranger to standing with the people of Texas as we fight the federal government. government regulations and allocate $ 750 million to mitigation efforts in Harris County. “

According to the statement, an amendment to the state’s action plan for administering the Texas Mitigation Community Development Block Grants will be submitted to HUD by the GLO to implement these changes. A final mitigation competition will be held for the remaining 48 counties at a later date, the statement said.

“This week Harris County united in outrage over the loss of Harvey’s vital mitigation funds intended to protect us from future storms. I am encouraged that GLO officials have recognized the flaws in the process and our desperate need for certainty in flood mitigation funds, “Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a May 26 statement.” I support and continue to call for certainty in the funding, but $ 750 million for Harris County is still only a fraction of the $ 4.3 billion the state received for flood mitigation after Hurricane Harvey and not enough to meet our needs. Needs Harris County is the epicenter of our nation’s energy infrastructure, home to 5 million people, has suffered more than half the damage and deaths in Harvey, and continues to be too vulnerable to flooding. We will continue to work with leaders across our country, GLO and HUD to ensure a fair allocation. “

Gregory M. Roy