Victoria has been through plenty of storms.
Whether it’s a regional threat like a hurricane or an unexpected event like a winter freeze, we’ve persevered through hazards that have tested our community—and our infrastructure—in numerous ways.
Although we may not know when the next storm is coming, residents can rest assured that our critical infrastructure is in a much better position to face the elements thanks to long-term planning and investment in projects that will improve our resiliency for years to come.
These priorities were on display at the March 7 City Council meeting, when the council adopted the 2023-2028 Victoria Hazard Mitigation Action Plan. This City/County plan outlines many of the hazards we face and how we can prepare for them. We’ve done an effective job implementing the previous plan, and this bodes well as we move forward with our updated goals.
Residents who were in Victoria during Hurricane Harvey may remember that the City was briefly unable to provide water due to a loss of power. Since then, we’ve invested in generator power at pump stations, treatment plants and other critical sites so that even if the power goes out, water service won’t be interrupted. We’ve also added generators at the police station and the Victoria Community Center, further improving our ability to provide key services during an emergency.
Winter Storm Uri was another challenge for our water system—one that truly highlighted the need to prepare for the unexpected, as Victoria and other cities dealt with the effects of an unheard-of Texan winter freeze. Since Uri, we’ve begun making plans to overhaul our supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system. The City has secured design services for these comprehensive upgrades that will allow us to more quickly identify and correct problems with our water system—no matter how unexpected the cause is. We’ve also winterized our monitoring equipment to ensure that it will continue to function properly even in freezing weather.
Of course, natural hazards include more than just one-off disasters. With seasonal droughts becoming more of an issue, we will continue to secure water rights and expand our water storage and retrieval capacity in line with the long-term water supply goals outlined in Plan 2035.
We will also continue to improve our flood resiliency in line with the recommendations of the storm drainage master plan. We know that many of our older neighborhoods are prone to flooding, which is why we’re investing in improvements in the Northcrest, Lone Tree Acres and Mayfair neighborhoods this fiscal year.
We will continue to responsibly seek state and federal grants to help offset the costs of these improvements. For example, the generators at the police station and the community center were funded by the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. We are also seeking grant funds for the upcoming water storage and recovery projects and SCADA improvements.
Furthermore, the 2023-2028 Victoria Hazard Mitigation Action Plan will help us seek grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency by showing officials that we have a plan to protect our community. To view the plan, visit www.vctx.org/page/oem.home.
Jesús A. Garza is the city manager for the City of Victoria.