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Playlist: Todd Hulslander's Portfolio

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Below the Waterlines, Houston after Hurricane Harvey - Hour Long Special

From KUHF | Part of the Below the Waterlines, Houston after Hurricane Harvey series | 58:59

Hurricane Harvey was a seminal moment in the history of Houston. Five years later, where do things stand? Houston Public Media examines efforts to make the region more resilient to better prepare for the next big storm.


Five years have passed since Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, yet its impact remains. We wanted to know: Is Houston better prepared for the next major storm? After spending the past several months trying to answer this question, we discovered the answer was not so simple.

Our reporters analyzed data. They spoke with residents who are still suffering and ones who have recovered and moved on. And they asked our local officials some hard questions.

We learned that a lot of work has been done… but we also noticed a theme - how often even the smallest steps toward progress are caught in the grind of bureaucracy.

Part 1: How Has Houston Changed?

Hurricane Harvey devastated greater Houston back in August of 2017. The storm flooded over one hundred fifty thousand homes in Harris County. Two feet of rain was dumped in the first twenty four hours and left a third of the city under water. In the first episode, we’ll visit with people who are still struggling to find normalcy five years later. We also examine how Houston’s flood mitigation strategies have evolved since the storm, and what challenges stand in the way.

Part 2:

Fixing the Reservoirs

Even today, tens of thousands of homes sit inside reservoirs that may flood again if Houston gets another storm like Harvey. And if the Addicks and Barker reservoirs fail, they’ll cause catastrophic damage to downtown Houston and to countless Houstonians. One big solution stakeholders want is a massive tunnel system to carry away the stormwater. In this episode, we look at what’s standing in the way.

Part 3:

Flood Control Goes Green

Unlike the traditional gray infrastructure, which relies on concrete, green infrastructure uses nature to slow down, absorb, and filter floodwaters. After the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey, we look at what role green solutions can have in making Houston more flood resilient. From floating wetlands to an abandoned golf course-turned-nature preserve, we visit innovative green solutions that are being tested across the county.

Part 4:

The Fallout of Buyouts

Experts and decision-makers agree: home buyouts are more important than ever. Flood risk for most Houstonians is only getting worse in the wake of climate change and urban development. The problem is that buyouts are a bureaucratic nightmare. Reporter Sara Willa Ernst takes us to two buyout neighborhoods and shows us how people get caught up in that painful process.