The occurrence of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and the devastating flooding that resulted continue to inspire discussion and concern regarding our county’s drainage infrastructure, as well as our collective ability to withstand such a severe flooding event. Simply put, we have never seen a storm like Harvey.
It should be noted that a total of 1 trillion gallons of water fell across Harris County over a four-day period. This amount of water would cover Harris County’s 1,800 square miles with an average of 33 inches of water. More than two dozen rainfall gages registered seven-day readings topping 40 inches, with a maximum rainfall of 47.4 inches near Clear Creek at Interstate 45. Harris County generally receives an annual rainfall of about 50 inches per year; our county received this much rainfall in just a few days. This unprecedented storm event impacted the residents of each of Harris County’s 23 watersheds, and it is estimated that more than 120,000 structures were flooded in Harris County, alone.
The breadth and depth of rainfall associated with Harvey simply has not been seen or experienced by Harris County before. The Harris County Flood Control District continues to diligently work alongside our many partners, including the Harris County Engineering Department, the City of Houston, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, among others, to proactively address the needs of our region.
While we’ve made significant strides since Harvey, there is still more work to be done. Teams from the Flood Control District are using all tools in our flood risk reduction toolbox to mitigate flooding risks for residents across the county. We’re also exploring new approaches, ranging from large-scale solutions like tunnel systems to smaller-scale projects like rain gardens. Reducing flooding risks in Harris County requires creative solutions, and our teams are at the forefront of that work.