Houston after Harvey

An interview with Marvin Odum

E&E News reporter Edward Klump visited Marvin Odum recently to discuss Houston's position following Hurricane Harvey. Odum is the chief recovery officer for the city of Houston and a former member of Royal Dutch Shell PLC's executive committee. He's working out of donated office space in downtown Houston.

Editing and production by Chris Farmer and Katie Howell.


Marvin Odum: Houston's in a great position going forward. So obviously it's dealt with some difficult situations here in the last couple years. Harvey just put that on a global scale, if you will. But it did something else at the same time, as it took us to a new level in terms of political will, and I think public will, to fix this situation which is, you know, flooding and flood mitigation.

So I'm 100 percent confident we'll take the moves necessary to find what needs to be done, put the city in a position where it thrives on a long-term basis.

There's a lot of things that have made Houston successful over the years. Those haven't changed. Those are attributes we just need to build up as part of this recovery and that will define our future.

I recognize that this is difficult, and there's a big educational part of this. But the fixes — the big structural fixes — for some of the problems that we've seen over the past couple of years in terms of flooding are long-term fixes. And I mean a decade long, in some cases even 15 or 20 years.

The important thing is that we define it. We figure out how we're going to pay for it. And we get started on that work. But we need to think about this recovery — the long-term solution here — as something that's going to take quite a while.