Three hours later, Sam and I walked out and at the same time we said, “They are amazing! We must find a way to help them.” We were filled with admiration for this community because many of their leaders own businesses and work full-time, but they also work full-time trying to strengthen and build the community they love. Their mayor works for $200/month and uses her personal computer to do all of her city work. They don’t have regular access to engineering and flood-planning experts, and they are getting flooded every time it rains. Furthermore, the rains are becoming more intense and the drainage in their city was designed so long ago, it is simply failing them. They know that there are sizable grants available to help communities like theirs, but they also know they don’t have access to the data needed to write a compelling grant to get the funding they need.
Their flood maps are outdated and they have no data captured around street
flooding except local knowledge. And in this case, local knowledge is very
important because people living there know the streets that flood, and they know
the people who are getting water in their homes consistently year after year.
Conversations with Premont, and the neighboring town of Orange Grove, who also
attended our meeting, reinforced how important it is to value and capture local
knowledge around flooding. Yet capturing that local knowledge and using it in a
meaningful way to write compelling grants and get funding is very difficult.