Posted by Matt Lanza at 10:00 AM
Following her election victory in 2018, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has made regional flooding one of her top priorities. With the onset of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane season, Hidalgo sat down with Space City Weather managing editor Matt Lanza to talk about that, what she’s learned about flooding in Harris County, and what she’s doing about it.
“First, everybody needs to have a plan for themselves, for their families and their pets,” she said during the interview. “That means having their gas tank fueled and having a safety kit. Make sure folks have medicine, food, and water for seven days. That’s what we like to ask folks to make sure to have.”
Seven days may seem like a long time, but as Hidalgo and the rest of the region experienced after Hurricane Ike in 2008, and like most of us witnessed after Harvey, it’s not unreasonable to expect to be homebound for an extended period of time after a storm.
The Harris County Emergency Management website, “Ready Harris,” has a checklist of emergency essentials for building your kit (The Houston National Weather Service guide to hurricanes and severe weather is also useful). It also wouldn’t hurt to bookmark the Ready Harris website if you live in Houston or Harris County, as Hidalgo anticipates it will become the one stop shop for official information during disasters.
“Our vision is to really make Ready Harris the hub for everything,” she said. “It’s not (yet) where it needs to be. We’re working on it. We have a very exciting vision for it. Part of it is like what you guys do: Putting things in very accessible terms. Making sure that we’re informing the community and that we’re very clear. And that we have the information that they need and only the information that they need.”
Ultimately, every conversation about Houston and hurricanes or weather comes back to flooding. Most of our readers know this topic is unavoidable. And the bulk of my conversation with Judge Hidalgo centered around flooding. Flooding happens rather frequently around here. “We’ve always faced the challenge of flooding, and people who’ve lived here 5 years and 50 years all understand it,” she says. The topic of how to control it or mitigate it is pretty unavoidable too.