News Release: December 19, 2019

Volunteer Team and Texas Community Plan to Create a Safer, Stronger Future

CHICAGO (December 19, 2019) — How do you build a federally funded flood protection system that goes beyond flood mitigation to improve connectivity, attract economic development, and raise the overall quality of life for all residents? An American Planning Association (APA) Recovery Planning Assistance Team worked with the City of Wharton, Texas, to identify recommendations to use flood protection options as a community catalyst.

Wharton is no stranger to recurrent flooding, but the disaster of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 left the city struggling to recover. The community needed to address the flood damage, but also suggest ways to make the city stronger, safer, and more resilient against future disasters. APA’s volunteer planning team met with residents, business owners, and community leaders of Wharton earlier this year to identify goals for the city to leverage over $70 million in funds from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and has compiled its recommendations in a final report.

Read the team’s final report on Wharton.

The team focused on areas of the city most impacted by the levee flood protection system funded by the USACE. In addition to design recommendations for the USACE project, the team identified a need to repair damaged infrastructure and expand transportation options within the city to improve mobility. The final report also includes recommendations to:

  • Elevate community historic and cultural resources, including the under-told histories of African Americans, Latinos, women, and Wharton’s agricultural and industrial heritage
  • Expand the planned ACE flood protection system to increase community amenities
  • Create education and recreation opportunities within the ACE project impact areas

Successful planning is a continuous effort that spans many years, but a strategic implementation schedule will help balance the community’s immediate needs and desires with long-term results. The team recommends a project implementation timeline that identifies immediately actionable items to items that will be completed over the next 10 years. The team’s recommendations demonstrate how improvements are envisioned as a series of smaller projects with different time frames, funding sources, and responsible agencies executing the implementation.

Funding for the volunteer planning team was provided from a competitive community grant from the APA Foundation, which awarded the Wharton Economic Development Corporation a Disaster Recovery Grant to assist communities hit hard by hurricanes and other natural disasters in 2017. Support for the APA Foundation Disaster Recovery Grant program is provided in part by the Pisces Foundation, which seeks ways to accelerate to a world where people and nature thrive together.

APA’s Recovery Planning Assistance Teams is a subsect of the organization’s Community Planning Assistance Teams (CPAT) that bring volunteer pro bono planners to communities rebounding in the wake of natural disasters.

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides vital leadership in creating great communities for all. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the profession of planning, offering better choices for where and how people work and live. The 45,000 APA members work in concert with community residents, civic leaders and business interests to create communities that enrich people's lives. Through its philanthropic work, APA’s Foundation helps to reduce economic and social barriers to good planning. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Learn more at

# # #


Roberta Rewers, APA, 312-786-6395;

December 19, 2019