Our infrastructure has been neglected throughout our nation. We have spent too much time “Hoping for change” and too little time acting. In Texas, our highways are failing. Our drinking water and wastewater systems need immediate attention. And while our bridges and airports are the highlights of Texas’ infrastructure, our dams and flood control systems are in desperate need of remediation.
The recent floods that devastated Houston illustrate the need for action. We experienced a failure of our flood control system. Even after the region sustained epic flooding, our authorities had to act to save failing dams, flooding hundreds of homes that many thought would be spared damages. Even now, recovery efforts are hindered by inertia in the agencies designated to aid us in our recovery. FEMA has improved its response after every incident, yet it still has far to go.
Plans have existed for years to enhance our flood control measures. These flood-control projects must be reassessed and enhanced. Some experts believe that merely building another reservoir is a stop-gap measure. The practice of building in flood-prone areas must end, but these areas do not need to be abandoned. These spaces can be utilized under local community plans for recreation. While federal funds may be needed to fuel the effort, the federal government must stay out of the way of that locally driven process.
The typical long process of government contracting will take years to address these problems, and these are years we may not have. Sometimes the way the federal government best governs is to get out of the way, and this is one of those times. Federal interference must be limited.
Texas needs a champion in Congress who will work to provide federal resources to rebuild not only the infrastructure that must be repaired, but help lead the drive to build the additional flood control capability Houston deserves. We must provide the support and continue to streamline the process by which our agencies help those affected by the recent floods reconstruct their homes, businesses, and lives. Congress must provide Texans the tools to direct these efforts at a local level.
Many of the senseless and onerous regulations directed at limiting Texas’ growth must be rolled back to facilitate this recovery. Wherever possible, the federal government must limit interference so that efforts are not mired in senseless delays so common in federal programs. In the end, we must all work together so that Texas can rebuild stronger than ever. Congress must be mindful that rebuilding Texas infrastructure does not end with flood recovery. Texas drives our nation’s economy, and providing Texas with the infrastructure it needs fuel our economy to benefit Americans far beyond our borders.