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Team Hidalgo Vows Equitable Distribution of Delayed $750M Federal Harvey Relief Funds

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Judge Hidalgo to continue ‘worst-first’ approach to flood control with second-term; opponent Mealer takes pay-to-play approach, favoring interests of top campaign donors

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (Aug 31, 2022) – After excluding Harris County in last year’s allocation of federal Harvey relief funds, the Texas General Land Office (GLO) will award the County $750 million dollars in aid. Though less than what’s needed to effectively address Harvey’s devastation, the funding will help to continue the nationally recognized flood mitigation and management efforts put forth by Judge Lina Hidalgo. 

Under Hidalgo’s leadership, Harris County reformed its allocation process for flood control funding, taking a ‘worst-first’ approach that prioritizes historically neglected areas where damage is typically most catastrophic. This necessary and humane command of funding will cease to be under opponent Alex Mealer, who seems to treat donations like bids for future County vendor contracts. 

“For decades, GOP leadership has underinvested in flood mitigation, leaving our most vulnerable communities in the wind,” Team Hidalgo spokesperson Toni Harrison said. “Judge Hidalgo’s leadership bases relief funding on community needs, not politics or back-door deals.”

Mealer’s opposition to a plan to increase funding for public safety facilities and technology, parks, and roads, drainage, and transportation projects, makes it clear her interests will be guided by her top donor list over Harris County residents.

Harris County has made its largest investments in flood protection to date since Hidalgo took office. Protocols to ensure more residents, homes, and businesses are protected and accounted for amidst torrential flooding have been implemented. 

Key accomplishments under the leadership of Judge Hidalgo include, but are not limited to:

  • ‘Worst-First’ Approach: Implemented a ‘worst-first’ system to remove politics and financial influence from flood control projects. It prioritizes projects in the most vulnerable disaster areas for economic loss and incorporates the Social Vulnerability Index developed by the CDC. 
  • Caring for Neighborhoods, Not Developers: Implemented detention requirements to ensure new infrastructure builds detention basins to hold the same level of water displaced. Cities were required to adopt these standards to receive flood bond money.
  • Tighter Floodplain Management: Enforcement of floodplain regulations was streamlined to allow the County Attorney’s office to pursue floodplain violations without Court approval. 
  • Project Brays Ribbon Cutting: Helped lead completion of the largest, most significant flood damage reduction initiative managed by the Harris County Flood Control District since its 1937 establishment. Federal, state, and local entities, collaborated on the $480 million project to reduce flood risk for more than 15,000 homes and structures in the Brays Bayou Watershed, an area that’s home to 775,000 Harris County residents.