In August of 2017, Texas was devastatingly impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
While the winds wreaked havoc, days of downpour flooded communities along the coast and inland. Lives were lost and homes destroyed.
Many communities to this day still feel the effects of Harvey. The economic impact of the storm was beyond what we had ever seen, estimated to be $125 billion. After the storm, the State took to the task of studying what went wrong and how we could be better prepared for future storms and floods.
Hurricane Harvey is an extreme example of the problems we have as a State when it comes to flood infrastructure. Instead of mitigating the impact of flooding through preventative infrastructure, we were reacting with emergency operations. While the State, counties, and municipalities bare blame in the lack of preparation, we understand that there must be a source to fund flood infrastructure projects in Texas. We receive funding from the Federal Government, but we, as Texans, must step up to protect our families and communities.
In my first session as your State Representative, I was fortunate enough to have been appointed to the House Natural Resources Committee, and we were tasked with developing a system that would provide funding for flood infrastructure projects while also maintaining fiscal responsibility. As a result, we as a Committee, led by Chairman Lyle Larson and Chairman Dade Phelan, crafted HB 13 and HJR 4. These two pieces of legislation created the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) for a statewide, cooperative effort for regional flood planning, mitigation, and infrastructure projects to make Texas “future-proof.”
FIF will be administered by the Texas Water Development Board, allowing loans at or below market rates to assist in basic flood project planning, extensive grant and application process at all levels of government, and engineering of structural and nonstructural flood mitigation projects. Additionally, FIF will offer grants to provide the necessary matching funds for local subdivisions to participate in various federal funding programs.
Recently and over the past several years, the RGV has seen flooding almost any time we have significant rainfall. For that reason, I passed a bill to create the Cameron County Flood Control District. My office, Cameron County officials, city officials, and the irrigation and drainage districts worked through a long and arduous process to ensure our area could be proactive in protecting families and businesses, while not duplicating efforts already in the works. As a result of this process, we will now have the ability to pool our resources and take a regional approach to solving our flooding issues.
We have now created a framework for regional flood planning. As we have seen in the RGV, a lack of regional planning and coordination on flood mitigation projects leaves vital infrastructure needs unfilled. We have seen our area suffer from flooding, and we need to create and complete projects to prevent and mitigate damage. Proposition 8 will allow the State to infuse FIF with $793 million from the Rainy Day Fund in order to provide a funding mechanism for these local and regional projects. The proactive approach of having a flood control district will more easily allow our region to access those funds and create a comprehensive plan.
Early voting starts Monday, October 21st and runs through November 1. Election Day is November 5. I ask that you join me and Texans across the state by voting YES to Proposition 8. Let’s move toward a safer region and state together.