AUSTIN, TEXAS — Yesterday, the Texas General Land Office (GLO) announced that Jim Wells County and the cities of Alice and Premont were among the 81 recipients of flood mitigation funding through the Hurricane Harvey State Mitigation Competition. The three projects were awarded a total of $29.7 million to improve drainage infrastructure, benefiting a total of 8,725 residents. This will help alleviate future flooding and mitigate damage to roads, residential properties, and critical utilities.
The City of Alice was awarded approximately $6.9 million for the Virginia St. Area Drainage Project. This project will increase the resiliency of the existing drainage system in the Virginia Street area, which lacks adequate drainage structures to direct water away from homes. In addition, the project will reconstruct the existing streets, upgrade storm sewers, and will improve roadside ditches.
The City of Premont will receive $13.1 million for the Drainage Improvements and Flood Mitigation Project, which will increase the resiliency and capacity of the drainage system to allow storm water to flow off-site faster and be detained.
Jim Wells County was awarded $9.7 million for a mitigation project that will improve the drainage system in the Rancho Alegre and Alice Acres Census Designated Places (CDPs). The drainage project will hasten the flow of storm water runoff away from the CDPs, restore resiliency, and reduce the risk to public health and safety.
The GLO received a historic $4.3 billion allocation in Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to mitigate against future damage from hurricanes, flooding and other natural disasters in repetitively damaged areas.
Drainage improvements are costly to local governments and large projects can cost tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. The 2019 Texas Legislature added another funding option with the creation of the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF) through Senate Bill 7. The new FIF program, administered by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), provides financial assistance in the form of loans and grants for flood control, flood mitigation, and drainage projects. As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and a co-author of Senate Bill 500 during the 86th Legislative Session, Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa was instrumental in securing funding to start the FIF program through a one-time transfer of $793 million from the “Rainy Day” Fund.
Senator Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“The residents of Jim Wells County have been hit hard by multiple flooding events since 2015. The $29.7 million will go a long way to improve the drainage systems, upgrade storm sewers, and prevent future flooding. I am pleased the GLO has approved these three applications. I appreciate the leadership of the Jim Wells County Commissioners Court, the City Council of the City of Alice, and the City Council of the City of Premont for their hard work in completing the application for funds. I commend our public officials and their staff for identifying and securing this funding that will protect our residents and their property from future flooding events.”