Texans to weigh in on how to spend early flood warning dollars

Creek Haven flood damage on Cypress Creek (David Scott/KXAN News)
Creek Haven flood damage on Cypress Creek (David Scott/KXAN News)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — State leaders took another step closer Tuesday to finally getting Texas communities life-saving funding for early disaster warning devices.

KXAN first discovered a funding snag weeks ago – something that held up millions of dollars lawmakers intended last legislative session for river gauges and other flood planning. Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, worked with Gov. Greg Abbott to secure that money after deadly flooding on Memorial Day weekend.

“We might not be able to avert a natural disaster, but we can do more to keep Texans out of harm’s way,” Watson said. “This investment is long overdue and I’m hopeful it is only the beginning of a renewed state commitment to flood preparedness.”

After our investigation, Abbott wrote in a letter to the state’s comptroller that the money was “improperly appropriated.” He then ordered immediate funding – $6.8 million dollars – through a Disaster Contingency Account to fix the problem.

“It is critical that our state has sophisticated technology and enhanced floodplain planning in place to respond to emergency situations associated with flooding,” Abbott said. “These funds will assist the state in not only better preparing for floods, but being able to report accurate and timely information as it arises.”

Now, the Texas Water Development Board has finalized plans to let Texans have a say in how to best distribute those emergency dollars on December 14 at 1:00 p.m. in Room E1.012 of the State Capitol.

“The TWDB stands ready to administer these funds in a manner consistent with the Governor’s emergency order,” TWDB Board Chairman Bech Bruun said. “Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Abbott and Sen. Watson, the TWDB will be able to provide the necessary equipment and technology to better prepare the state for flooding events.”

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