It’s coming, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it.
More than a year after Hurricane Harvey showed the Houston area’s floodplain maps were outdated and inaccurate, Harris County is prepared to begin the years-long process of drawing new maps.
Commissioners Court on Tuesday agreed to accept $6.5 million in federal FEMA funds to complement $8 million in local dollars to create new maps, to be completed by 2023.
“We’re excited about that, and it’s going to be a big undertaking,” said Russ Poppe, executive director of the Harris County Flood Control District. He added the county has already begun the search for contractors.
[County Judge Ed Emmett] said the redefined floodplains will be essential to planning future development and assessing flood risk in communities. For years, he said government and private developers failed to keep track of where creeks and bayous drained, and where water flowed when waterways crested their banks.
The re-drawn maps also will allow the county to more fairly enforce its new floodplain building codes. In the year after Harvey, Houston and Harris County added new requirements for floodplain development.
The county’s flood control district hopes to hire contractors through the end of the year to begin work in January. Director of Operations Matt Zeve said engineers hope to complete the new maps, which will cover nearly 800 miles of waterways, by 2023.
As the story notes, a large number of properties that flooded during Harvey were outside the official flood plain. For obvious reasons, having an accurate map is a necessary thing. The last modification was begun in 2001 and took six years, so things have improved a bit since then.