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Inside Texas’ Revamped Statewide Flood Mitigation Plan

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Paul Morris checks on neighbors homes in a flooded district of Orange as Texas slowly moves toward recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey on September 7th, 2017 in Orange, Texas. 

During the Texas Legislature’s first session since Hurricane Harvey slammed into the state, killing dozens, lawmakers approved a variety of cutting edge legislation to bolster storm recovery, flood control, and emergency response.

Perhaps most notably, lawmakers passed legislation that would create a statewide flood plan. Much like Texas’ State Water Plan, it will be a wish list of projects compiled on a regional basis every five years but with an overarching goal of mitigating flooding across the most disaster-prone state in the nation.

Chad Berginnis, executive director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers, said it appears that few, if any, states have such plans though he said recent research indicates that at least a dozen states help communities pay for flood control projects in one way or another. It’s always a positive when states “step up and own part of the flood risk management problems happening in their own state,” he said.

Communities with projects that make the list—think detention ponds and dam repairs—may be eligible for financial assistance from the state in the form of grants and low-interest loans though lawmakers opted to let voters decide whether to bankroll the plan. A ballot measure this November calls for filling a special flood infrastructure account with $3.26 billion from the state’s rainy day fund.

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