Almost two years after Hurricane Harvey, FEMA has awarded the first set of federal grants to the City of Houston for a pair of large-scale flood mitigation projects in areas hit by the record-high rainfall from the storm.
The City will receive funding for the first phase of the $46.9 million Inwood Forest Stormwater Detention Basin at the former Inwood Golf Course on the northwest side and the first phase of the $47.1 million Lake Houston Dam Spillway Improvement Project.
“This is a breakthrough moment for the City and one we have been waiting for very patiently,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “Houston has bounced back from Harvey, but we need the federal government as a full partner as we work to prevent flooding from the next storms that will surely come.”
The mayor thanked the city’s congressional delegation, state officials, City Council members and his staff for working together to open the federal funding stream for Houston.
The City started filing Hazard Mitigation Grant Program paperwork with FEMA in the first half of 2018, soon after Congress appropriated disaster relief and recovery funds in reaction to the devastation from Harvey and other 2017 hurricanes.
FEMA will provide 75 percent of the costs for the Inwood project, the state is expected to provide 18.75 percent and the City and the Harris County Flood Control will pay for the remainder.
The Inwood project will protect over 4,400 structures in the White Oak Bayou and Vogel Creek watersheds. The City and county aim to build 12 floodwater detention basins to hold a total of about 1,200 acre-feet of water (roughly 592 Olympic swimming pools, or enough water to fill the Astrodome).
The City and the flood control district acquired the former golf course in 2011 as a potential flood mitigation facility.
The initial Inwood project grant is $2.8 million for design and opens the door for the city to later receive $44 million for construction, with a goal of completion by 2022. The project would take seven or eight years without federal funding.
The Lake Houston Dam project will add 10 gates to the dam to allow for larger controlled releases of water in advance of heavy rains, protecting about 35,000 residents and 5,000 structures. The FEMA grant provides $4.3 million for the initial phase and positions the city to receive $42.7 million for construction, with a goal of completion by 2022.
FEMA also is awarding a total of $11.5 million to the Lone Star College System (Kingwood), the Clear Creek Independent School System and the Texas Department of Transportation for “emergency protective measures” in parts of the city that flooded during Harvey.