New Harvey numbers fuel push for added flood protection

- For those still under the impression Harris County was hammered by the worst rain storm in a thousand years, there is new head-spinning data proving the deluge was, in some areas, far, far worse.

"Almost 47 and a half inches of rain that fell on Clear Creek in the four day period equates to about a 25,000 to 50,000 year event," said meteorologist Jeff Lindner with the Harris County Flood Control District.

That's the most precipitation in 500 centuries.

That news comes amid highly critical suggestions that local leadership has known for decades flooding of this magnitude was possible, but refused to fund the water control infrastructure needed to limit damage.

"Could we have spent more and avoided some of the flooding? Sure. Did the taxpayers want to have higher taxes to do that? No," said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.

Emmett says the path forward must be driven with flood control as a fundamental priority beginning with the buyout of thousands of homes that never should have been built. The cost will run into the billions of dollars.

"Let's not cheap out at this point. Let's go ahead and take this for the lesson that it is," said Emmett.

Just how many buyouts and how quickly they will happen depends on funding from Congress, with the earliest possible sale estimated by the HCFCD at nine months away.

Meantime, meteorologist Lindner offered more powerful scientific perspective on the immensity of what greater Houston has just endured.

"Harvey exceeds every single rainfall event in the United States. It exceeds the closest which happened in the state of Louisiana in 1940 by 62 percent. That's the closest record to Hurricane Harvey," said Lindner.

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