A year after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Harris County voters overwhelmingly backed a $2.5 billion bond measure Saturday that would finance at least 237 flood control projects in the Houston area.
With most of the vote counted late Saturday evening, the measure appeared on its way to a more than 85 percent approval rate.
It will help fund a vast flood-related home buyout program, the completion of several long ongoing bayou-widening projects, an improved early flood warning system, new floodplain maps and dredging behind two massive, World War II-era dams that were built to protect central Houston from catastrophic flooding but became a flashpoint after Harvey when thousands of homes on both sides of the dams were inundated.
A significant portion of the bond also will be used to secure billions more in federal matching funds.
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In the days after Harvey made landfall on Aug. 25 of last year, the Houston region saw widespread flooding that inundated more than 150,000 homes in what became one of the worst urban floods in U.S. history.
The measure, which the Harris County Commissioner’s Court spent months vigorously debating, represents the largest local investment in flood control in the county’s history. The county held more than two dozen town hall meetings over the summer to gather input from residents on which projects the bond should support.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, the driving force behind the proposal, called the election an "overwhelming victory by, and for, the residents of Harris County" in a tweet Saturday evening.
"Thank you, and now the hard work begins," he said.