New report promotes criteria for buyouts to increase flood resiliency

Hurricane Harvey Registry researchers are asking residents in the Greater Houston area to complete a short survey on the long-term effects of Harvey as well as the recent floods in May for a health report about the storms.

Hurricane Harvey Registry researchers are asking residents in the Greater Houston area to complete a short survey on the long-term effects of Harvey as well as the recent floods in May for a health report about the storms.

Government buyouts of properties in clusters or properties close to existing open spaces can result in environmental and economic gains for communities anticipating flooding, according to a study released today by The Nature Conservancy and Texas A&M University.

Lily Verdone, the director of freshwater and marine programs for the Texas chapter of The Nature Conservancy, said that while the survey focused on the buyouts of properties in and around Houston after Hurricane Harvey, the results could still be applied to other coastal cities in the United States that often deal with flooding.

"It has a national relevance," Verdone said. "Coastal cities across the country are dealing with very similar issues, and we feel like this study provides a road map on how to get the best economic, environmental and social needs."

According to the report's findings, the preemptive buying out of property in controlled clusters, as opposed to a reactionary "checker-board" pattern of buyouts after a storm has occurred, increases the effectiveness of flood control in urban areas, especially if the properties are properly converted into open spaces and are close to existing wetlands and protected areas.

The study analyzed the flood claims and flood loss estimations of over 74,000 properties affected by Hurricane Harvey and compiled a database of properties eligible for effective use of the government buyout system by taking into account factors like proximity to previously purchased properties, proximity to existing protected areas and areas that are more impacted socially and economically by flooding.

According to the analysis, if officials looked at properties within 1,000 feet of wetlands, floodplains and other buyouts, as many as 1,100 total properties in Harris County, valued at over $135 million, could be bought out with a positive cost-benefit effect. Under current regulations, 362 properties are eligible, according to the report.

If local governments were to apply a similar set of criteria for deciding which properties to purchase, the study said that buyout programs would remain both cost-effective and strengthen an area's flood resiliency while creating green spaces that add social and environmental value to neighborhoods.

"If we promote the use of nature as a first line of defense to protect properties and people, there's not only an environmental win, but there is also an economic win," Verdone said.


Houston ISD is holding virtual summer school. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Houston ISD will hold summer school virtually, starting June 8

Classes are held Monday through Thursday, June 8 to July 2, with teachers meeting with students using the Microsoft Teams conferencing app.

The death total in Harris County now stands at 221. With 11,770 cases confirmed in the county, the death rate stands at 1.9%. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 1 new death confirmed May 28, 8 deaths over past 7 days

By comparison, 23 deaths were confirmed between May 16-22, and 39 deaths were confirmed between May 9-15.

Armadillo Palace
Live music returns to Goode Co.'s Armadillo Palace starting May 28

Country music is on back on tap at Armadillo Palace.

Houston Public Library
See which Houston Public Library locations reopen with curbside services June 1

Items can be put on hold through the library website or by phone, with pickup available at 10 neighborhood locations.

Texas Supreme Court rejects push to expand voting by mail during coronavirus

However, Supreme Court justices also said voters can determine for themselves whether or not they are disabled, and local election officials are not obligated to verify those applicants' claims.

Outdoor venues in all Texas counties will be permitted to operate at up to 25% capacity starting May 31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spectators to be welcomed back to Texas outdoor sporting events May 31 at 25% of venue capacity

Venue owners must operate under guidelines that facilitate appropriate social distancing.

Students enrolled in the University of Houston College of Nursing can take classes at the Sugar Land campus. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: UH College of Nursing dean reflects on how coronavirus has affected education, profession

Kathryn Tart, dean of the University of Houston’s College of Nursing, spoke with Community Impact Newspaper about how the novel coronavirus is changing the way the university is educating nursing students.

West University Place will not be reopening Colonial Park Pool on May 29, the city confirmed, as Gov. Greg Abbott issued a May 26 proclamation allowing water parks to reopen at a limited capacity. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
West U will not reopen Colonial Park Pool on May 29; other city buildings and services to resume June 1

West U services and buildings are set to resume and reopen, except Colonial Park Pool.

The Texas Department of Transportation is closing all northbound and southbound main lanes of I-69 Southwest Freeway between I-610 West Loop and Weslayan over the weekend. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
Total closure: Section of I-69 Southwest Freeway will be closed at Loop 610 May 29-June 1

Northbound and southbound lanes of I-69 Southwest Freeway will be closed between May 29-June 1.

Houston Methodist researchers conducted a 25-patient trial in March and April to examine the safety of convalescent plasma transfusions as a possible treatment for COVID-19. (Courtesy Houston Methodist)
Greater Houston-area health systems examine plasma transfusion as possible COVID-19 treatment

The experimental therapy involves the transfer of plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to those who are currently symptomatic.

Each eligible child will receive $285 in benefits. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Some Texas students eligible for one-time federal benefit to aid with food purchases

Texas received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide more than $1 billion in pandemic food benefits.