Houston’s Recovery : NPR

Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks with Marvin Odum, Houston’s chief recovery officer, about the city’s need for more federal aid since the region was hit by Hurricane Harvey.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

And here in Houston with me now is one of the reasons we actually came here. John Burnett, NPR’s Southwest correspondent. Hey, John.

JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: Welcome to Houston, Lulu. I’m glad we got you down here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I am glad to be here. And you’ve been urging us to cover Houston for a while. We’ll get to Harvey in a moment. But why, in your view, is the city important right now?

BURNETT: Well, I’m a native Texan. And for decades, Houston had labored under a stereotype of being this behemoth city filled with oil men, refinery workers and astronauts. And in the last decade, I think Houston has become the most interesting city in Texas and really the most misunderstood major city in America. It’s the fourth-largest.

Houston is now calling itself the most ethnically and racially diverse in America. As whites slip into a minority, Houston becomes a bellwether. This is what big American cities are going to look like going forward. But there’s something else going on here. Houston is trying hard to make itself a more livable city. It’s created these amazing urban parks like Hermann Park and Buffalo Bayou. And people are investing in the theater district and the museums.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And, of course, in the middle of that civic reinvention, Hurricane Harvey hit the area more than three months ago. And you can’t overstate how devastated Houston was by that storm.

BURNETT: It’s true. Harvey dumped 50 inches of rain – a year’s worth of rain in four days, more than 100,000 homes damaged. Thousands are still staying in hotels all over the region. Houston is exceptionally flat. The city’s nickname is the Bayou City. Its existence is premised on drainage. But three 500-year storms in three years have proved that something has gone wrong. These bayous that drain into Galveston Bay are just not getting the water out fast enough.

…(read moe).

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