Texas reveals $61bn plan to mop up after Harvey

The Texas state government has announced plans for a $61bn programme of works to repair the damage left by Hurricane Harvey and increase the resilience of areas on the Gulf of Mexico at risk of future storms.

According to the Houston Chronicle, about 60% of the funding would be spent on improving flood defences, mainly around the coastal cities of Galveston and Houston, and 33% would go on buying land in flood-prone areas and elevating buildings in low-lying regions.

The defences would include the so-called "Ike Dike" that would provide a flood barrier around Galveston Bay. This was first proposed after Galveston was hit by Hurricane Ike in 2008. So far no definite progress has been made in building the structure, which would probably cost between $3bn and $4bn.

There would also be reservoirs to absorb water, and three "coastal spines" would offer additional security against storm surges.

The move follows the trail of devastation left by Hurricane Harvey, the worst and wettest storm to hit east Texas for 50 years. The state recently assessed the damage caused at $180bn, up from the $150bn originally estimated.

The track of Harvey, which was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached Houston

So far, the US Congress has approved $15bn for Texas, but this money can only be spent on rehabilitating flooded areas.

Texas is competing with Puerto Rico for additional federal spending. The bankrupt island has only restored 42% of its grid six weeks after being hit by Hurricane Maria, and a further $100bn of work would be required to return it to its former state.

In the town of Rockport on the Gulf coast north of Corpus Christi, only a quarter of business have been able to reopen.

According to the Chronicle, Texas governor Greg Abbott will argue that because Texas has the 10th largest economy in the world, and the second largest of any US state, expedited funding is essential to US national security.

Top image: Yachts in Rockport marina (US Department of Defence)

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