AP NEWS

Barker group calls residents to push for flood control

July 30, 2018

Residents of the Barker Reservoir Watershed will learn more about the upcoming Harris County $2.5 billion bond election as well as have an opportunity to share their ideas and suggestions on what could be done to mitigate flooding in their neighborhoods on Aug. 1.

Co-founders of Barker Flood Prevention, a recently formed advocacy group, encourage residents to attend the meeting organized by the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) at Memorial Parkway Junior High School, 21203 Highland Knolls. The meeting, one of more than 20 conducted by the district, will be from 6-8 p.m. People unable to attend the meeting may submit comments online. Visit www.hcfcd.org/bond-program/community-input for more information.

The county bond election will be Aug. 25, the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey’s arrival. Early voting for the election will begin Aug. 8. Visit http://harrisvotes.com for voting times and locations.

Wendy Duncan, co-founder of the advocacy group Barker Flood Prevention, met July 26 with HCFCD representatives. The district’s website lists potential project types to be funded by bond funds including maintenance projects to restore the designed function and capacity of a channel or stormwater detention basin, partnerships with other local, state and federal agencies to improve drainage and projects suggested by residents

After the meeting, she said she’s impressed with the effort and work done by the district in collaboration with other agencies. “They’ve put together a bond package that’s quite impressive,” said Duncan, noting that it’s been updated after every informational meeting held in various communities. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the work the Harris County Flood Control District has done.”

Duncan said Barker Flood Prevention will use social media and email to promote the district’s plans as well as to encourage people to vote for the bond package.

She and Barker Flood Prevention co-founder Marlin Williford helped organize a July 12 meeting at Kingsland Baptist Church that drew about 100 people. Additional membership meetings are planned.

One of the group’s goals is to partner with other agencies to bring about real change for flood control in the future, said Duncan. “Barker Flood Prevention is about action,” she said, noting the number of studies done over the years that failed to accomplish any change. “Barker Flood Prevention is about partnering,” she continued. She said she and Williford have very good relationships with government officials who they believe want to do an effective job for residents. “We’ll keep fostering those relationships and keep encouraging our residents to be vocal, write letters, write emails, show up at meetings. Because if residents do not push for flood control, it will not get done.”

Williford said, “The Barker area upstream and downstream had some of the greatest damage from Harvey. We want to see all levels of government work together to fund and build substantial and effective flood-control solutions NOW. Improved flow and increased storage in the Barker Reservoir is an integral key to playing defense against future flooding.

“Also improved conveyance in the upstream and downstream channels,,” he added. “Most importantly the Buffalo Bayou channels.”

Williford said, “Any areas outside the reservoir that can be excavated for additional retention to add storage capacity will help. These things are critical to short-term relief. The longer term picture will include completion of the major elements of the original 1940 plan and coordination of all of this with similar actions in the Addicks Reservoir as their requirements are similar and the two reservoirs must work well together to maximize effectiveness.” The 1940 plan included a levee/reservoir at Cypress Creek and a conveyance to take water downstream from the Barker and Addicks reservoirs.

The July 12 meeting also involved August Campbell, president/CEO of West Houston Association (WHA) and chairman of the nonprofit Harris Plus Flood Solutions. Houston Stronger, a campaign administered by Harris Plus Flood Solutions, is hosting an Aug. 2 conference from 2-4 p.m. at Houston Community College West Loop Center, 5601 West Loop South Freeway. The conference will focus on what’s happened since Harvey struck on Aug. 25, 2017 as well as the upcoming county bond election. Visit https://westhouston.org/committee-events-list/harris-county-bond-conference/ to register for the free conference that will feature Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Harris County and the city of Houston.

Houston Stronger’s $61.55 billion flood-control plan outlines 12 projects. Those projects include constructing a third reservoir at Cypress Creek and restoring and adding storage capacity to both the Barker and Addicks reservoirs. Visit http://houstonstronger.net/resources/ for details.

karen.zurawski@chron.com

AP RADIO
Update hourly