Forest Cove Townhome Buyouts 80% Complete, But Area Now Magnet For Illegal Dumping

Eighty percent of the Forest Cove townhomes south of Hamblen on Marina and Timberline Drives have been bought out so far. But while HCFCD scrambles to complete the remainder of the buyouts, the area has become a magnet for illegal dumpers.

Vacant Since Harvey

Ever since Hurricane Harvey when 15-20 feet of water swept through the riverfront townhomes, they have been abandoned. Then they were looted, burned, covered with graffiti, and dumped on. No one lives there anymore. They can’t. The Harvey flood destroyed them beyond repair.

The absence of residents has now made the once-proud townhomes a favorite destination for illegal dumpers.

Pictures from February 13 Flyover

Below are some pictures I took from a helicopter on 2/13/2020. Believe me, it looks and smells much worse from the ground. People have dumped old furniture, electronics, a boat, tires, landscaping debris, mattresses and more.

The City can’t keep up with it.

Fire from last July.

Status of Buyouts

The City of Houston is responsible for keeping the area clean. But Harris County Flood Control District HCFCD is buying these properties out.

Matt Zeve, Deputy Executive Director of HCFCD, says HCFCD has purchased 80% of the townhomes since Harvey. Fourteen units remain un-purchased. 

HCFCD has already demolished eight of the buildings. Seven remain. The 14 units are scattered among those seven buildings. That’s why they haven’t been demolished yet.

Of the 14 units, five are in the acquisition process. The nine remaining owners have all volunteered to be bought out. “We’re in the approval process of adding them to our Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) buyout grant,” said James Wade of HCFCD. So all the pieces of this puzzle are falling into place.

A FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) resulting from Hurricane Harvey is partially funding this acquisition. Seventy-five percent of the cost is from a federal HMGP grant and 25% (plus some relocation costs) will be funded by HCFCD. The total estimated costs of the townhomes once complete: approximately $5 million. 

HCFCD hopes to complete all acquisition and demolition by the end of 2020.

When buyouts are complete, this area will revert to nature. It could also become part of a linear park. The Houston Parks Board was considering building a hike and bike trail south of Hamblen between the County’s planned Edgewater Park and River Grove Park.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/25/2020

910 Days after Hurricane Harvey