A major part of the efforts in Harris County to reduce flooding involves voluntary home buyouts—when the county purchases property that is prone to flooding, removes all buildings and turns it into open space.
Of the 4,000 property owners in Harris County who have volunteered for buyouts since Hurricane Harvey hit in August 2017, 1,100 of them have been approved at an estimated cost of $317 million. A total of 200 properties have been purchased as of February. Additional buyouts are likely to be approved as more funding becomes available through federal grants.
Since there are more volunteers than funding, Harris County Flood Control District officials have to be selective in determining which homes should be bought out. Several factors are taken into account, with areas that are deeper inside flood plains getting higher priority. Buyouts are also considered if flooding cannot be addressed through other means, such as drainage improvements.