AUSTIN, Texas — In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the city of Houston is getting ready for a major storm, and officials are already talking about building a wall.
The city has a plan to help protect the public from rising sea levels.
But it also has an environmental plan that could be used as a blueprint for other communities across the country.
The Houston City Council will consider a proposal Thursday to create a public-private partnership that would create a $3.5 billion program to protect coastal areas from rising seas.
The project could help fund flood insurance, flood management and infrastructure.
“This is a big deal, this is a long-term plan,” said Harvey disaster response coordinator Jennifer Rinaldi.
Rinaldi said it would be the largest public-public partnership ever in Texas.
The plan, which was presented to the council at its May 7 meeting, calls for $3 billion to be spent over five years to build levees, flood barriers, seawalls and barriers along the city’s coast.
The money could be invested in new, levee-protected buildings, or new projects that could include stormwater and sewage treatment plants and more, according to the city.
The proposal comes just days after President Donald Trump announced his administration would prioritize funding for hurricane relief.
The Trump administration is expected to announce an additional $1 billion for disaster relief by the end of the year, but the president has not committed to the program in full.
The council will consider the plan Thursday.
The $3bn is a modest sum for the region, but Houston is a prime target for storms like Harvey, which brought catastrophic flooding to the Texas coast.
Houston has had a flood insurance program in place since 1985, and it was created with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
It has been a model for the nation, said Rinaldo.
More than 80 percent of the city is insured and only about 2 percent of its population is not insured, Rinaldian said.
In Texas, only about 4.3 percent of residents are not insured.
Houston was able to pass a law in 2000 that allowed insurance companies to charge more if a homeowner was unable to pay on their own.
The city has had to spend tens of millions of dollars on flood insurance and the program is expected not to be extended.
Radalio said there are more than 60 other cities in Texas with similar flood insurance programs.
In all, the government has spent about $2 billion on flood protection and more than $1.6 billion on infrastructure upgrades.