This study looks in detail at the Houston floods that resulted from Hurricane Harvey. Based on interviews with impacted households and businesses, and with people involved in risk reduction, response and recovery at the city, county and state level, the study identifies lessons learned from the floods. The study also provides recommendations for enhancing flood resilience. These recommendations can be applied not only in Houston, but across the U.S. and even globally.
The report draws the following resilience lessons from the flood:
- Use forward-looking scenarios to plan for the future.
- Limit or prevent federal insurance coverage of new properties in flood zones.
Make flood insurance more universally appealing for homeowners and businesses.
Build a culture of awareness around risk.
Address household preparedness as part of business preparedness.
Improve messaging around disaster events to more accurately reflect real risk.
Trust the public with information that helps them manage their safety and preservation of assets
Partnerships and relationships are fundamental to resilient response and recovery.
Use existing assets to provide critical information during disasters.
The report argues that Given Houston’s history of flooding and its physical and development landscape, the question is not whether it will flood again, but when and how badly. The city and county have already taken bold policy steps to reduce future risk.
The challenge now is to take equally bold funding and implementation steps across all scales: from major infrastructure to street drains, through awareness raising, and for the state of Texas and the federal government to help support those steps. How the city and county decide to mitigate future flood risk, and how aggressively they pursue that mitigation, will determine the extent of the impacts from the next event.
The report also calls for residents and businesses to become proactive about asking for, expecting and self-taxing themselves to pay for action. They must also remember that even the best flood mitigation leaves residual risk. Businesses of all types and residents must become far more proactive about understanding and taking action to prepare for and/or mitigate that risk.