Fears emerge Harris Flood Projects could be "re-prioritized"

With billions of federal and local dollars flowing into flood protection, a new Harris County regime is proposing new procedures and criteria which could impact how and where that money will be spent.

Fox 26 was the first to reveal a Democratically driven initiative to include a neighborhood's economic vulnerability to flood damage as a significant factor when prioritizing projects.

That means projects in low income communities could potentially leap frog proposals in more affluent areas.
Congressman Dan Crenshaw calls that social engineering displacing hydraulic engineering.

"Here's the bottom line. The places that flood the worst, they need to be dealt with first and that should be the order we take these in. That's common sense policy making. We have other programs to deal with economic vulnerability. This is a really bad turn that the County is taking," said Crenshaw.

Fox 26 has obtained letters protesting the so called "Low Moderate Income" metric proposed by County Judge Lina Hidalgo and supported by commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia.

Humble Mayor Merle Aaron writes "Assigning a socio-economic measure to address an engineering problem is counterproductive and may significantly hinder reducing flood hazards."

Leaders of the Lake Houston Area Chamber write "Our local economy, which funds our local school system and citizens' lives are at risk by a hasty decision to re-prioritize bond projects."

Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle says their concerns are legitimate, "Congressman Crenshaw is spot on that we need to make sure that we take care of flood issues by using engineering criteria and not any other criteria. The worst must be addressed first."

Responding to FOX 26, County Judge Lina Hidalgo said all the fears are unjustified because all the projects approved by the voters in 2018 will be executed.