We stood in solidarity with the Northeast Action Collective today as they asked the Harris County Commissioners’ Court to address flooding in their communities. Northeast Action Collective is a passionate group of advocates and neighbors that came together in the wake of Harvey out of frustration with the lack of public investment in drainage and flood mitigation in their community. Working with West Street Recovery, the Collective has been organizing to improve quality of life and safety in their community.
Today, the group called on the County Commissioners and Harris County Flood Control to take meaningful action to prevent flooding in their neighborhoods and improve the public engagement process to include groups like the Northeast Action Collective.
Bayou City Waterkeeper issued the following statement (prepared with our legal intern Alex Johnson‘s help) in support of Northeast Action Collective.
In passing the Harris Thrives Resolution in August, the Harris Commissioners’ Court affirmed its commitment to reduce flooding across Harris County and approved a process to prioritize projects in communities that have suffered the most human impacts from flooding. It is in the spirit of that resolution that we ask the Court to address the concerns around flooding and drainage raised this morning by the Northeast Action Collective.
First, it is imperative that Harris County vigorously enforce land use regulations designed to protect residents from flooding. The Commissioners’ Court passed these regulations to avoid the mistakes of our past and prevent new development from flooding existing communities. Today Northeast Action Collective shows that these regulations mean nothing without enforcement. We urge Harris County to treat enforcement of its development regulations as a priority in its broader flood mitigation strategy.
Second, the issues identified by the Northeast Action Collective implicate both Harris County and the City of Houston’s respective roles in addressing flooding and drainage. To effectively tackle these problems in Northeast Houston, the County and City must coordinate not just with each other, but with residents, who are the best source of information about the problems affecting their community. If there are gaps between the County and City’s complementary roles, they must be identified and closed. The burden cannot be on residents to fill these gaps.
Last, at the start of this flood bond process, Harris County embarked on a massive community engagement effort by holding workshops in watersheds across the region. The County should continue its commitment to meaningful, inclusive engagement by creating a monthly progress report on flood mitigation projects, as Northeast Action Collective has requested. To inform and engage all communities as we work to make all of Harris County more resilient to flooding, the County and Flood Control District must make this information accessible, by sharing it in the languages spoken by this County’s communities.
By working with Northeast Action Collective and other organizations rooted in local communities, the County can most effectively work to give all residents – regardless of what neighborhood or watershed they are in – better protection from flooding.