Pleasantville assessing flood mitigation and air quality post Hurricane Harvey

Achieving Community Tasks Successfully (ACTS), a community-based organization on the east end of Houston, Texas, in the Pleasantville Community, has launched a flood mitigation and air quality assessment in partnership with the HBCU-CBO Gulf Coast Equity Consortium. The Consortium is under the direction of sociology scholars and environmental justice advocates, Dr. Robert Bullard, Distinguished Professor at Texas Southern University and Dr. Beverly Wright, Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice in New Orleans. During a January 2018 Environmental Justice Forum, residents of the Pleasantville Community identified several priority issues of concern that has plagued their community for decades. Since that time, Pleasantville has identified Flood Mitigation and Air Quality as the top two priorities of concern.

Flood Mitigation

The ACTS research team mentors are Dr. Denae King and Dr. Glenn Johnson of Texas Southern University. The community research team is led by Chairperson Tracy Stephens who has worked diligently to identify resource and solutions to mitigate flooding in the community. According to the Harris County Flood Plain maps, Pleasantville is not located in either the 100 or 500-year flood plain areas. Ponding at the 610 Freeway has been identified as a significant source for flooding. In addition, this 70-year-old community has been requesting replacement of the storm sewer drainage infrastructure for the last 30 years as part of the City of Houston (COH) Capital Improvement Project (CIP) process. To date, the COH has completed an evaluation of the system and designed replacement of the system to be performed in four (4) phases. Only phase one (1) has been funded and completed. Though collaboration with the Pleasantville Area Super Neighborhood, Council #57, meetings have been coordinated so that residents interact directly with representatives to identify expected timelines for resolutions.

Air Quality

The Air Quality research to action plan has included scientific training (data analysis) and identification of additional resources. Brain Christensen, an intern from the University of Texas, Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health, began air quality data analysis in June 2018. Data results from two separate air monitors were presented. One monitor is maintained by TCEQ (Texas Commission Environmental Quality) and the other is a community air monitor installed as part of the Beacon Project (University of California Berkley and Environmental Defense Fund/EDF). Data was compared to identify most common emissions, trends, similarities/difference and potential health impacts from exposure. The ACTS research and community engagement teams will also conduct asset mapping trainings and community health surveys as they work diligently to improve the quality of life in the Pleasantville Community.

By Bridget Murray
​​​​​​​President of ACTS