Flood-related items stand out at this week’s Harris County Commissioners Court

Hurricane Harvey recovery was front and center for Harris County commissioners Tuesday, as several agenda items were approved for aspects of flood management and mitigation.

The commissioners court agreed to extend the local disaster declaration until Sept. 26.

It was the first regular meeting for the court since the storm’s flooding and tornadoes devastated the Greater Houston area late last month. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett welcomed the return to regular business as he read the first resolution: declaring September 2017 as “Library Card Sign-Up and Literacy Month.”

“We haven’t gotten to do much reading here lately, but hopefully this will be good,” he said.

The court also appointed five people to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund Advisory Board, one appointee for each commissioner and the judge, to oversee the fund’s resource distribution. After the storm hit Houston, Emmett and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner created the relief fund, which is housed within the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

According to the foundation’s website, about $49.6 million had been donated to the relief fund as of Wednesday.

“So we need to start getting it to the people that need it,” Emmett said.

The Harris County Budget Management Department was authorized to coordinate with departments involved in the recovery efforts and extend payments for hours worked eligible reimbursements. In addition, $20 million from the Public Improvement Contingency Fund will be allocated to the county engineer's office for building repairs related to Harvey.

Unrelated to this year’s storm specifically, the court approved an annual U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant for $200,000, $70,000 of which will be matched, for a flood risk map study for the Hunting Bayou Watershed project in Precinct 1. The projects third phase started in August.

Grant applications by the Harris County Flood Control District to the Texas Water Development Board in the amount of $17,192,615, to be matched up to $3,691,717, were also authorized for submission. If received, the grants would be used to acquire and demolish certain homes at risk of continued flood damage as part of the 2017 FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance Program.

The court also authorized the flood control district to spend $780,609 on land for phase 1 of the stormwater conveyance improvements in Precinct 3. The district is spending $124,095 over the land’s appraised value, according to meeting documents.