1 Year After Hurricane Harvey, Houston Flood Infrastructure Still Needs Fix

August 29, 2018 AT 8:30 AM

By Emily Foxhall, Zach Despart, and Gabrielle Banks

After Hurricane Harvey, everyone agreed: something needed to be done to bolster the dams and levees that protect Houston and its suburbs. Harvey overwhelmed them. The question is what is needed and how much it will cost.

One year later, the areas’s flood infrastructure is being cleaned up and upgraded in small ways, but systemic overhaul remains years away, as comprehensive studies and hundreds of lawsuits progress.

In west Harris County, crews in July were installing new gates at the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. Homes flooded upstream during Harvey as the reservoirs filled and downstream when engineers began emergency releases, yet officials plan to spend at least three years looking at ways to strengthen the system, such as digging the reservoirs deeper or building a third one.

Across town, upstream of Lake Houston, workers prepared to dredge a portion of the west fork of the San Jacinto River, returning it to pre-storm conditions. Experts believe the sand buildup there contributed to flooding in Kingwood and Humble. But a pending, joint study of the river basin was expected to take up to a year.

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