Mayor's Office Press Release

FEMA Awards Fourth Grant for Flood Mitigation Projects

September 10, 2020 -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded the fourth federal Hazard Mitigation grant to the City of Houston. The award marks the fourth and final approval sought by the City to pursue large-scale and transformative flood mitigation projects that will reduce flooding in areas mostly affected by record-high rainfall.

The City will receive funding for the first phase of the $54.3 Million Subterranean Detention Basin and Storm Sewer Improvements in the TIRZ 17 and Memorial City area. The approved project will design and ultimately construct a sub-surface detention basin and perform storm sewer system improvements allowing for additional storage and conveyance capacity of water during heavy rainfall events.

"Following the third anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, federal support continues to play a key role in our ability to build forward," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "These investments will take us one step closer to reducing flood risk in many neighborhoods repeatedly devastated by flooding and major storm events. I want to thank the Houston congressional delegation, state officials, city council members, FEMA, Texas Division of Emergency Management, and my executive team for working together to secure funding for the transformative flood mitigation project in Houston."

The project is divided into two phases. The first phase is the design and permitting activities and the second phase is the construction. FEMA has approved the first phase, which the City expects to complete within 12 months. Before initiating the design phase, the City must first execute the grant agreement with TEDM and hire a consultant. The entire project is expected to be complete in 2023.

The City and its partner, TIRZ 17, will contribute over 55% of the local match for this project, a total of $30 million. The City will also work with key stakeholders to move the project through the design and permitting phase.

Together with the Inwood Forest Detention Basin, Lake Houston Dam, and North Canal projects, awarded in August and October of 2019, the City and its partners will implement nearly $300 million in flood and drainage infrastructure investments. This is the total amount TEDM allocated to Houston through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

The Inwood project will protect over 4,400 structures in the White Oak Bayou and Vogel Creek watersheds. The City and Harris County plan to build 12 floodwater detention basins to hold about 1,200 acre-feet of water (roughly 592 Olympic swimming pools, or enough water to fill the Astrodome).

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.

The North Canal Project, which has been considered for many years, will play an integral role in reducing flooding to the central business district and areas west of downtown, upstream along White Oak and Buffalo Bayous. The project will reroute White Oak Bayou along downtown, create an inline channel east of downtown, and perform bridge and channel improvements along Yale and Heights Boulevard to provide additional water conveyance capacity.

The City started filing mitigation applications in the first half of 2018, soon after Congress appropriated disaster relief and recovery funds in response to Hurricane Harvey's devastation in 2017.

"Long-term disaster recovery projects and implementation of flood mitigation investments are a long-term process," said Stephen Costello, Chief Recovery Officer for the City of Houston. "The partnerships we have developed and continue to strengthen through the implementation of these projects, at all levels, are essential to guarantee project success while working towards being better prepared for the next storm and adapting to an uncertain climate."