Much of Houston’s future will be determined by how we manage the threat of flooding, including our recovery from Hurricane Harvey.

Our recovery will take years, and we need to start now and rebuild wisely. To succeed, we need to plan to strengthen existing systems while implementing new infrastructure projects and smart policies.

This plan would include:

  • Improving existing structures, including the Addicks and Barker reservoirs;
  • Building a third reservoir in Northwest Harris County;
  • Facilitating the immediate completion of Project Brays;
  • Identifying additional detention areas;
  • Revising the floodplain maps;
  • Devising and installing a system for coastal surge protection;
  • Incentivizing public-private partnerships; and
  • Ensuring future federal projects are completed on time and on budget.

We have learned that the increased flooding we are experiencing was not just predictable—it was actually predicted.

In 1996, engineers for the Harris County Flood Control District issued a dire warning that our reservoir system was insufficient. The Army Corps of Engineers authorized five flood control projects between 1986 and 1990. Today—more than 20 years later—only one of them has been completed. In 2009, the Army Corps gave Addicks and Barker reservoirs the worst possible safety ratings and expressly designated them at an “extremely high risk of catastrophic failure.”

After Tropical Storm Allison’s rains flooded the city in 2001, we developed Project Brays to protect the Texas Medical Center and those living and working along Brays Bayou. Sixteen years later, that project is far from completion.

John Culberson has failed to provide the leadership we need in Congress to protect us from flooding. In 2018, we must hold him accountable for those failings. We can, and we must, finish the projects that will keep our families safe. To do this, we need an advocate in Congress, not a bystander. We need a partner in Congress who will help us secure the resources, the information, and the assistance we need to do so—one who will work with the city, the county, and all agencies and partners to make sure we do it right.

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