Flood control experts say Houston’s drainage system may be under water

SUGAR LAND, TX - AUGUST 31: Oscar Peru of U.S. Customs and Border Protection searches for flood victims from a helicopter after torrential rains pounded the area following Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey on August 31, 2017 near Sugar Land, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi August 25, has dumped nearly 50 inches of rain in and around areas Houston. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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At Rice University’s recent Urban Flooding and Infrastructure Conference, Houston received what some may consider bad news.

Flood control researchers in the area presented their findings on the city’s drainage system at the conference, and reportedly awarded it a failing grade:

“The problem in Houston is pretty bad. We decided to build our city in swampy area,” Rice researcher Antonia Sebastian said in an interview. “We decided to build our city somewhere where we have really extreme rainfalls.”

Dr. Jim Blackburn, co-director of Rice’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters center (SSPEED), explained some prominent flaws in Houston’s infrastructure via his presentation.

RELATED: Houston City Council members call for more time to debate mayor’s flood control plan

He highlighted the disparity in infrastructure investment related to flood control between areas of lower income and higher income.

Low income areas, Blackburn said, don’t get the same amount of flood prevention resources funneled into them, like other parts of the city do.

Thursday marked the second day of the conference, which reportedly included information from the Houston Flood Mitigation Consortium, a comprehensive collection of data on flooding and flood prevention to inform the everyday Houstonian on flood danger and its prevention.

According to the agenda, Blackburn and others spoke again on flood prevention and planning for Houston’s future, on topics including communicating future flood risk, cyclone forecasting and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

“We’ve got to up our game, we’ve got to protect the public and the public is going to demand it if we don’t give it to them,” Blackburn said during his speech Wednesday.

RELATED: Federal agency commissions $3m study on flooding in Houston post-Harvey

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