Skip to main content

Hurricane Harvey's Lasting Impact on Houston

Published Aug 26, 2022 by Brina Morales

Downtown Houston Skyline

Five years ago, Hurricane Harvey ravaged Greater Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast. Harvey hit our region as a storm, dumping as much as 60 inches of rain in some areas over four days, producing $125 billion in damages, and killing 36 people in Harris County alone. Harvey's devastation transformed Houston, bringing the community and leaders together to plan for a better tomorrow. Here are four takeaways as we reflect on the anniversary. 

Business and civic leaders continue to push for projects that create a more resilient Houston.

Since Harvey, the City of Houston has launched several initiatives, including Resilient Houston, a framework to focus not only on recovery but long-term stability. Despite funding challenges, both the city and county are working on green infrastructure solutions and other innovative options including turning neighborhood parks into stormwater detention basins, creating wetlands, building rain gardens, buying out properties in flood plains, building flood resilient multi-family apartments, enacting new building codes for new home construction and more. The Harris County Flood Control District is also exploring a $30-billion network of underground stormwater tunnels to alleviate flooding. In the fall, Houston Community College will launch new courses focused on building a resilient workforce to prepare the region for future disasters.

Downtown Houston was forever changed. 

Following the damage caused by Harvey and pandemic-related shutdowns, Downtown is once again humming, but it came at a cost. It took 13 months for the Wortham Center, the second-largest performing arts center in the nation, to reopen after the storm. The Harris County Criminal Justice Center remains under construction after floodwaters damaged the 20-story building. Some businesses along Buffalo Bayou never reopened, while others adapted to the possibility of another flood, including what’s now known as McIntyre’s Downtown, the former iconic Spaghetti Warehouse. Solutions to protect businesses and homes in the downtown area and along White Oak and Buffalo bayous are in the works, including the North Canal Project, which is in the design phase with construction scheduled to begin in 2024.

Families are still rebuilding.

According to SBP Houston, a long-term disaster recovery nonprofit organization, thousands of families are still trying to rebuild their homes and lives five years after Harvey. The storm damaged more than 150,000 homes in Harris County alone.

"Our goal is to stay here until every family impacted by Harvey has a safe, sanitary, secure home to live in,” said Kaitlyn Perez, SBP’s community engagement manager.

Harvey survivor, Ms. Claudette, pictured with SBP's Community Engagement Manager Kaitlyn Perez and volunteers during 'welcome home' party.

Since 2017, SBP and its partners have helped rebuild homes for 830 families impacted by Harvey. Ms. Claudette is one area resident SBP says recently moved back into her home after spending the past five years struggling to find financial help to repair damages. She leaned on several organizations, including SBP and Habitat for Humanity, to rebuild her home.

The disaster brought people together and continues to do so. 

Harvey brought loss and devastation but also solidarity. Communities and residents banded together to support each other during and after the storm, which led to the birth of a phrase we still live by, Houston Strong. Houston has shown its resiliency, but the work continues.

Volunteers continue helping local families in need. In addition, the community has shown willingness to invest in flood mitigation efforts by passing the 2018 Harris County Flood Control District’s $2.5 billion bond program and the city's Build Houston Forward plan.

“Together, we’re focused on making Harris County stronger and more resilient for generations to come,” said Flood Control District executive director Tina Petersen in a press release. “We’ve made significant progress, and we know the need is still great, so we are treating each and every project with a sense of urgency.”

Flood mitigation is one of four key executive priorities for the Partnership’s upcoming legislative agenda. Learn more here.

Related News

Living In Houston

Houston a Destination City for Leisure Activities

Renowned worldwide as a mecca for performing and visual arts, complemented by its vast array of parks and green spaces, and award-winning culinary scene, Houston continues to attract people from across the globe for its abundance of leisure activities.   Early projections from Houston First Corporation reveal that the Bayou City welcomed over 51 million visitors last year, earning the title of Most Popular City in Texas for Overseas Tourists, according to Trips to Discover. Additionally, Houston was named one of the top American cities with the most fun things to do by CommercialCafe.  Arts & Entertainment Click to expand At the heart of Houston's allure lies its world-class museums, such as the Menil Collection and The Museum of Fine Arts, which serve as gateways to explore art, history and science. The Orange Show and Smither Park, constructed from recycled materials, stand as mosaic wonderlands, a testament to the city’s folk art. Moreover, recent additions to Houston's art scene, such as Meow Wolf and the Museum of Illusions, introduce immersive installations and exhibits that create unique attractions in the Bayou City.  Click to expand Adding a flare to the arts, Houston's entertainment district provides exclusive access to some of the world’s best musical, dance and theatrical talent, featuring prestigious organizations and theaters such as the Houston Ballet and Symphony alongside the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts and the Wortham Theater Center. Meanwhile, venues like the House of Blues and the White Oak Music Hall provide electrifying concert experiences, showcasing both established acts and emerging talents.  Parks & Outdoors Click to expand With nearly 400 parks and more than 200 green spaces, including the beloved Buffalo Bayou and Memorial Park, Houston also offers plenty of outdoor activities within the city. Hidden in-between downtown skyscrapers lies Discovery Green, a 12-acre urban park, which offers free yoga classes and movie screenings alongside the skating rink and green spaces. Nestled within the iconic Houston Zoo lies Hermann Park, which features a Japanese garden, golf course and modern play areas, making it one of the best city parks in the nation.  Click to expand Among the city’s top attractions are its amusement parks, including Downtown Aquarium, Space Center Houston, Galveston’s Pleasure Pier, Kemah Boardwalk and the Houston Funplex. Great Wolf Lodge, a massive resort and indoor water park, is also expected to open this year.    Sports Click to expand Houston is also a sports city, boasting many major-league teams and venues, including the 2017 and 2022 MLB World Series Champions – the Houston Astros, who call Minute Maid Park home. Among its crown jewels are also the Houston Texans, Rockets and the Dynamos, which occupy NRG Stadium, the Toyota Center, and Shell Energy Stadium. These state-of-the-art facilities will host a series of major sporting events in the upcoming years, including the 2024 College Football Playoff National Championship, 2026 FIFA World Cup, and the 2025, 2027, and 2031 AAU Junior Olympic Games.  Festivals & Events Click to expand The city also hosts several exciting events annually, including the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, recognized as the world’s largest and best fair and rodeo by the Academy of Country Music. In the 2024 season, the Houston Rodeo experienced record-breaking attendance, welcoming more than 2.5 million guests over the 23-day event. Other H-Town known events include the Houston Art Car Parade, the Bayou City Art Festival, Hermann Park’s Kite Festival, the Texas Renaissance Festival and the Chevron Houston Marathon, showcasing a dynamic variety of events with everyone in mind.   Discover more about living in Houston. 
Read More

Related Events


One Houston Together : Inclusion Solutions Part 1

Creating cultures of belonging and closing belonging gaps is a crucial strategy for every organization that wants to be competitive in the future and retain and engage employees of all backgrounds. The topic…

Learn More
Learn More
Executive Partners