Next Steps for Houston's Flood Problems

This week's flooding underscores an ongoing problem in Houston — too much concrete and not enough drainage. It's something most long-time residents are used to by now. But as Laurie Johnson reports, city officials say more must be done to address Houston's water-logged roads.

Millions of people in the Houston area were caught off guard by the deluge of water dumped on us in a matter of hours. We're used to our share of severe thunderstorms, but this one unloaded more than ten inches of water in some areas.

One driver drowned when his vehicle was swept into a ditch.

Houston Mayor Bill White says one of the ways the city is addressing flooding and drainage issues is to maintain a flood control fund.

image of Buffalo Bayou

"Now we're expanding the bayou system and we also need to expand the pipes taking water from the neighborhoods to the bayous. And until this administration, there was no designated stable source of funding for getting — building the pipes to take water from the neighborhoods out into the bayou system. And we've made great progress, but there's a lot to be done and it won't all be solved in a day."

White admits significant improvements are still needed and Houston's budget won't cover them all. He brought up the issue to Vice President Joe Biden, who was in town this week.

"There ought to be some consideration for more Corps of Engineering money for our community through the Harris County Flood Control District."

The Flood Control District says improvements to Brays and White Oak Bayous have made a substantial difference in mitigating flooded roads and neighborhoods. And White says Houston's flooding problems are nothing new. Since the city's inception, the region has been characterized by high localized flooding.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...