Shady Maple the night of the May 7 2019 flood

One Year Ago Today, Streets of Elm Grove Turned into Rivers for First Time

May 7th is the anniversary of the first large-scale flood in Elm Grove history. On that day, more than 200 homes flooded on the streets south of Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village and the Montgomery County line. Homes that did not flood, even during Harvey.

Life After Harvey and Before May 7th

In the weeks leading up to May 7th:

Then The Rain Came

According to the gage at West Lake Houston Parkway and the West Fork, it started between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Then it picked up again between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. when we got about 2.5 inches of rain. Then we got slammed between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. when we got another 2.2 inches. Altogether, we got 5.64 inches before midnight.

Rainfall one year ago today.
Atlas 14 rainfall figures for Kingwood area.

The bulk of the rain, about 5.5 inches, fell in about a 12 hour period. That would make May 7th about a 5-year storm. The one-hour peaks during the storm never significantly surpassed the one-hour peaks during Harvey. Yet Elm Grove did NOT flood during Harvey and flooded disastrously on May 7th.

Act of God or Series of Missteps?

The Woodridge Village developer issued a terse statement saying that the flooding was an Act of God. But video showed sheet flow coming out of Woodridge Village.

And that helped trigger hundreds of lawsuits. Over the next year, hundreds of posts would piece together a series of missteps by the developer that turned a heavy rain into a disaster. Contributing factors included:

All of these factors would come into play when Elm Grove flooded again during Tropical Storm Imelda on September 19.

The judge in the lawsuits set a trail date for July 13, 2020. But COVID may delay that. Meanwhile, Harris County is trying to buy Woodridge Village from Perry Homes with the help of the City. We should have a final answer on that within two weeks.

Images from That Awful Day

While we wait, here are some pictures of that awful day and the immediate aftermath.

High-water evacuation in middle of night on Shady Maple Drive
HFD High-Water Rescue
Humble ISD school bus attempting to return kids home as sun started to set.
Erosion where S2 detention pond should have gone.
Log spearing warning sign at north end of Village Springs in Elm Grove
Dumpsters filled driveways for blocks as people gutted their homes.
Keyframe from Jim Zura drone video showing where S2 detention pond should be. Instead, only a muddy river.
Families carted precious belongings to the curb.
Keith Jennings bewildered dog as flood waters rose in his kitchen.

Encore Performance Just as People Moving Back Into Homes

As tragic as all these images are, the whole scene would repeat itself again in September, just as many people were moving back in to repaired homes. Except in September, 2x-3x more homes flooded.

Since then, many people have waited to repair their homes a second time until they can be sure that the source of the flooding has been fixed.

The hearts and prayers of the entire community go out to those who flooded so needlessly.

Posted by Bob Rehak on May 7, 2020 with images from flood victims

982 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 366 since last May 7th

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.