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Hurricane Harvey inflicted county seeks funding for homes buyout
Last Updated: 2017-09-13 08:18 | Xinhua
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Harris County of U.S. Texas on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to seek more than 17 million U.S. dollars to buy out more than 100 homes at the highest risk of flooding in the county, where the city of Houston is located.

The county's Commissioners Court agreed to submit a grant application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that, if approved, would enable the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) to buy and demolish 104 homes, some of which have flooded multiple times in recent years.

The district's buyout program takes on particular significance after Tropical Storm Harvey ravaged the region, swamping some 136,000 of homes.

Floodplain maps and regulations only came into being in the 1980s. Since the 1980s, HCFCD has bought out roughly 3,000 homes.

HCFCD is a special purpose district created by the Texas Legislature in 1937 in response to devastating floods that struck the region in 1929 and 1935.

Its jurisdictional boundaries are set to coincide with Harris County, a community of more than 4.5 million people (2015).

Last Wednesday, Jim Blackburn, a lawyer and professor in the practice of environmental engineering at Rice University of Texas, wrote in his paper, "Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey: Policy Perspectives," that "how we respond to this horrible reality will determine the economic future of our region."

Blackburn, also a Baker Institute Rice Faculty Scholar and co-director of Rice's Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center, said a clear starting point is to identify the areas that did not flood during Harvey. "These areas will form the backbone of the Houston of tomorrow."

FEMA opened on Monday three disaster recovery centers in Houston area, offering in-person support to individuals and businesses in 39 counties included in the Texas federal disaster declaration for Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent floods.

FEMA on Sept. 3 opened its first Disaster Recovery Center in downtown Houston, aiming to identify locations for additional centers, where residents affected by Tropical Storm Harvey can apply for aid, ask questions or solve problems.

Harvey blew ashore on Aug. 25 as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years, displacing over 1 million and damaged some 200,000 houses in a path of destruction that stretches for more than 480 kilometers.

The Houston area was hit by severe flooding, after receiving about 1.4 meters of rain.

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