Statement from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo on the "Ike Dike"

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo today issued the following statement regarding the need to invest in flood mitigation.

“It shouldn’t take a near miss of a catastrophic hurricane to force our national leaders to recognize the urgency of investing in flood infrastructure, including a coastal barrier for Galveston Bay.

I ran on a platform of flood mitigation because I knew that we are living in a new reality. Harris County is Exhibit A in demonstrating the reality of climate change and the impact of severe storms on our residents. We’ve seen our vulnerability to flooding time and time again. And we are also vulnerable to storm surge. As the energy capital of the nation, a direct hit to Harris County would have enormous repercussions for our local and national economy and it would be an environmental catastrophe.

County mitigation projects are moving forward, faster than ever before, raising bridges to safer levels and carving out millions of gallons of increased detention capacity. We tightened development standards in the county as much as legally possible, so upstream developments don’t flood downstream neighbors. We’re buying out homes that flood repeatedly and turning them into green space. We created a new framework for post-disaster recovery, so recovery happens first in the areas that are worst hit, not just in those areas with big pockets, or with connections downtown. We are exploring all possible alternatives when it comes to a coastal barrier.

This week, many of us watched the meteorological projections with anguish. But the reality of it is, we don't have to cross our fingers and hope that major storms miss us. We have the power to protect our region. This isn't new, it just requires will.

We’ll continue to leverage every local dollar to support flood control, but we need national leadership on this issue. We cannot do this alone. Congress should follow our lead in expediting flood projects and they must do everything in their power to fund a coastal barrier for Galveston Bay, now. Time is running out.”