Furious rebuilding in Houston, especially in flood prone areas, is raising the question of whether the city is setting itself up for another disaster. The Washington Post, via The Mercury News, reports:
A city chastened by disastrous flooding just months ago is trying to balance the need for new construction in a region short of housing with the civic fear that Houston is returning to its freewheeling ways.
The construction in northwest Houston, which serves as something of a post-Harvey starting gun, is being built to new, stricter standards. Planners say those rules reflect both the local government’s commitment to avoid repeating mistakes and new federal weather predictions that anticipate even more severe periods of rain here for decades to come. In the short term, forecasters say this year’s hurricane season, which begins June 1, could be even worse than last year’s.
As planners take the new cautious spirit and future weather into account, Houston officials are seeking more flexibility from the federal government over how billions of dollars in emergency funds can be used to empty out or retool residential areas that have flooded repeatedly.
“What are we going to do in these neighborhoods that people just don’t want to leave?” said Stephen Costello, Houston’s chief resilience officer, whose task is to balance development and flood protection as the city recovers.