Houston — Surveyors for the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) fanned out across Harris County’s 22 watersheds, part of a major push to repair more than $84 million in bayou and drainage channel damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. On March 27, Harris County Commissioners Court approved a total of $12.5 million in initial contracts with 15 engineering firms that will design those repairs. That design process kicked off this month with topographic surveys and geotechnical field work at hundreds of damage sites around the county. Local dollars will be leveraged to secure federal grant funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to design and construct the repairs.
More than 1,200 individual damage sites were verified and prioritized after Hurricane Harvey. This included sinkholes, bank erosion, failed concrete, collapsed outfall pipes and other damage. These damaged sites were then grouped for project design by the selected engineering firms.
During this phase, Harris County residents may see workers out along the bayous and channels with survey and geotechnical boring equipment. Field data collected during this phase will help the Flood Control District fully evaluate the type of damages and repairs needed. Later, after project construction contracts are awarded in a competitive bidding process, residents will see heavy construction equipment such as trucks and backhoes. Construction is expected to begin on some project sites later this year, and to be completed in 2019.
The Flood Control District has requested more than $84 million in construction funding from the NRCS and FEMA for making these repairs. While the focus is on areas that qualify for federal disaster funding, other areas requiring maintenance repairs have been added to the projects in some cases, and will be constructed using available local funding alone.
This comprehensive effort to repair Harvey damage is not the first Harvey-related repairs conducted by the Flood Control District. Approximately $26 million in post-Harvey and Tax Day repairs are complete, under construction, or in final design. Disaster Recovery Program efforts are in addition to the Flood Control District’s year-round maintenance efforts.
Since late August 2017, the Flood Control District has committed almost $6 million in local dollars for initial Harvey-related emergency repairs and authorized nearly $4.9 million in projects. All are eligible for federal reimbursements.
Another $8.14 million project targeting channel repairs in east Harris County also is under construction.
A separate repair effort of approximately $12 million is in final design and will be bid for construction this summer. In the works since the 2016 Tax Day flood and updated to include needed Harvey repairs, it targets 30 project sites in the Cypress Creek, Little Cypress Creek, Addicks Reservoir and Greens Bayou watersheds of mainly north and west Harris County. (It is included in the $84 million funding request to the NRCS.)
Earlier multi-million-dollar projects to repair damage from major 2015 floods are under construction at multiple sites in the Cypress Creek, Greens Bayou, White Oak Bayou, Carpenters Bayou, Sims Bayou and Vince Bayou watersheds. These projects total approximately $3.8 million.