FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2019
(512) 463-0120 office
AUSTIN, TX -- Today, the Texas Senate passed three disaster relief bills joint authored by State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa to address lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey by preparing our state for future hurricanes and natural disasters, including ways to address flood response and clean-up (SB 6), flood project funding (SB 7), and state and regional flood planning (SB 8).
Senator Hinojosa released the following statement:
"A year ago, I wrote an editorial titled "Investments in Flood and Drought Control Should be Proactive, Not Reactive." I wrote this after Hurricane Harvey dropped 50 inches of rain in the Houston area and a few days before the Rio Grande Valley received 15 inches of rain in a two-day period, causing significant flooding and damage to our communities. The three bills we passed today, and are now headed to the Texas House for consideration, will allow us to address current challenges, lessons learned, and will help us be better prepared for future natural disasters.
These bills will allow our local officials who have been working and developing plans to improve drainage infrastructure access funds needed to see these projects to completion. These are smart investments, as Comptroller Hegar recently noted that mitigation spending has a four-to-one payback ratio.
We cannot control the weather, but with the proper planning, preparation, and investments we can minimize the impact of significant weather events, which are happening more frequently, and can help save lives and protect our property. I am proud to be a joint author and look forward to working with my colleagues as these bills move through the legislative process."
SB 6 would require the Texas Department of Emergency Management to create a disaster response plan for local officials. This plan is designed to reduce the confusion and delay after an event by providing local government with resources needed to effectively prepare and recover from disasters.
SB 7 would create the flood infrastructure fund to support flood projects throughout the state. The fund would be managed by the Texas Water Development Board and overseen by an advisory committee composed of the same members that serve on the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas Advisory Committee. The Texas Water Development Board may use the fund to make grants or provide zero/low-interest loans to eligible local governments for flood planning projects. The bill includes transparency and reporting requirements which ensure that Texans will be informed on the completion and financial projects.
SB 8 would direct the state's water planning agency to devise a statewide flood plan. The plan would be required to provide for flood preparation and response, to guide state and local flood control policy, and, if possible, to contribute to water development. This bill also includes about $150 million to repair all of the 500 high-hazard dams throughout the state.