Fort Bend County Commissioners Court approves items related to flood mitigation

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At the Feb. 5 meeting, the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court approved several items related to flood mitigation, including a federal grant, an application for federal funding and a resolution to contribute the local match to purchase homes flooded during the 2016 Tax Day floods.

$2.4 million federal grant for flood control project

The court unanimously approved to accept about $2.4 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service with a $249,218 local match from the county.

The Fort Bend County Drainage District will use the money to repair about 1,200 feet of the lower part of Cane Island Branch, near Willow Fork and Buffalo Bayou, according to county documents and an interview with Mark Vogler, the chief engineer and general manager of the drainage district.

The project is intended to help control erosion by repairing and protecting the creek bank with a sheet pile wall to help stabilize the creek, according to county documents. Volger said the county has 220 days to design, construct and complete the project.

He added this project is the first part of a larger $52 million flood mitigation project on Cane Island Branch, Oyster Creek, Willow Fork Channel and the Buffalo Bayou with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Application for flood control project on Flat Bank Creek

The court unanimously approved to ratify an application to the Texas Department of Emergency Management’s Texas Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for funding of a $45 million project to construct a Flat Bank Creek diversion channel structure.

This project will be located near the intersection of Flat Bank Creek, Steep Bank Creek and the Brazos River, and it is expected to protect about 5,000 Missouri City residents, said Ahmad Alaswad, the chief of staff for Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken DeMerchant, in an interview.

The deadline to submit applications was Jan. 31. If the applications are approved by the state, the projects will be funded 75 percent by FEMA grants and 25 percent by Fort Bend County. Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers said he is working with state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, who is the chair of the appropriations committee, to gain state funding for the local match.

Meyers was also working to submit five projects for grant money in his precinct, which includes the Katy area and Fulshear.

In an interview, Fort Bend County’s interim emergency management coordinator Mark Flathouse said four projects from the county were submitted to the state in the past two weeks.

Resolution to contribute $2.6 million to home buyout program

The court also unanimously approved a resolution to pay the $2.6 million local match required to receive federal grant money from the Texas Department of Emergency Management for a voluntary home buyout program related to the 2016 Tax Day floods.

According to the resolution, the county will pay for its 25 percent project cost share through an issuance of certificates of obligation, in which the county can set the terms of the bonds for repayment.

A total of 42 homeowners have requested a buyout for their home, Flathouse said at the Jan. 29 meeting. This project must be completed by March 2020, County Attorney Roy Cordes said at the Jan. 29 meeting.

At the Feb. 5 meeting, the court did not take action or discuss how it would pay for the 25 percent local match of $525,000 required to receive federal funding for home elevation grants. A dozen homeowners voluntarily applied for funds to elevate their homes after the 2016 Tax Day flood, Flathouse said Jan. 29.

County funds cannot be used in elevation projects because the properties are private property, Cordes said Jan. 29. The county must find another way through other grants or private funding to receive federal funds, Cordes said.

The court will meet again at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 401 Jackson St., Richmond.

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Jen Para
Jen joined Community Impact Newspaper in fall 2018 as the editor of the Katy edition. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Jen has written about business, politics and education since 2013. Prior to CI, Jen was the web producer at Houston Business Journal.
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