By Zach Maxwell
Around 75 people attended a second public input session in the Aldine area, concerning the upcoming $2.5 billion bond election to help prevent future flooding in Houston.
The meeting was hosted by the East Aldine District and Pine Village North Public Utility District. Officials from Harris County Flood Control District as well as a flood expert from Rice University gave presentations.
But those who attended and addressed the speakers were mainly concerned with neighborhood-level drainage concerns. The bond issue, if passed in an Aug. 25 vote, will provide funds for much larger, city-wide projects to stem flooding along well-known high water zones including Greens and Halls bayous.
Jim Blackburn, a Rice University professor and founding member of the Bayou City Initiative, said these northside watersheds were often overlooked when federal funds were made available for past flood mitigation projects. The upcoming bond issue has specific wording to include previously overlooked areas and low-income areas, said State Rep. Armando Walle.
Walle said there will be at least $100 million for a variety of proposed projects on Halls and Greens, including home buyouts, drainage repairs and additional retention ponds such as the one underway on Lauder Road.
For their part, the county Flood Control District said 19 of the 23 watershed meetings had been held across Harris County including previous meetings for Halls and Greens bayous. But the Tuesday, July 24 meeting was held as an additional opportunity for residents to address their concerns.
Residents who spoke at the meeting represented neighborhoods like Sequoia Estates, High Meadows and Castlewood. Concerns included localized ditch flooding and runoff infrastructure maintenance, as well as questions about the buyout process. Several High Meadows residents expressed concerns about flood mitigation for the Aldine Town Center project which was addressed by the project’s construction manager.
Curtis Lampley, Director of Community Services for the county Flood Control District, encouraged residents affected by flooding to include written comments on the district’s website at www.hcfcd.org. He also walked the group through the buyout process, which is just now starting as federal funding has arrived for the purpose.
“Don’t give up, don’t get discouraged,” Lampley said. “Continue to let us know that you’re interested.”
High Meadows resident Maria Avila urged the group to support the Aug. 25 bond issue a date chosen to coincide with the first anniversary of Hurricane Harvey.
“If we don’t approve the bond, we’re not going to get any help,” she said. Others in attendance asked Walle if the state would tap into “rainy day funds” to help prevent future disasters. He said he is on a committee looking into that possibility.