With a rainy week ahead, ‘Flood Czar’ Costello talks programs and progress

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HOUSTON --- Flooding gets so bad in Houston nowadays. When the forecast gets bad like this week, and it storms a little harder than a drizzle, people get nervous.

Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed former Councilman Stephen Costello to be the point person on this issue for the city. Some call him the “Flood Czar,” but he prefers “Chief resilience officer.”

On Monday, he spoke at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center to make his goals clear.

“Harris County Flood Control District is responsible for flooding. The city is responsible for drainage, and the two agencies have had definitive roles, however the community doesn’t see the definition. They want them blended, so this is important for the city to get involved with flood control and help move projects along, so I think it’s very important to our neighbors,” says Costello.

Moving things along like the Brays Project, which plans to widen Brays Bayou in some areas, and deepen it in others.

What’s the hold up? Federal funding. It’s not paying the Harris County Flood Control District back for work they’ve already done fast enough for progress to continue.

Costello and the city are trying to find a way to supplement the funding to keep progress moving forward, while the county waits on reimbursement.

It’s less than $150 million over a five-year period and the intent is to use resources from the Texas Water Development Board. They’ll know in the next 30 days if this plan floats or sinks.

That’s just one of many avenues Costello and the city are exploring to help keep families from going through having their homes flooded out all over again the next time mother nature opens up and decides to dump all over Houston.

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