Three Years Later, Pretending Harvey Never Happened

Now that we’re past the third anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, some developers would like to pretend the storm never happened. Where money can be made, they have memory loss in abundance and common sense in short supply.

New Townhomes Feet from West Fork in Kings Harbor

I previously blogged about new townhomes under construction in Kingwood’s Kings Harbor. Technically, these townhomes may meet most of the requirements of the City of Houston. They have garages and the equivalent of indoor/outdoor living spaces on the ground floor (which are already walled off from garages). The main “living floor” starts about ten to twelve feet up. (See below and Chapter 19 of the City’s Floodplain Ordinances.)

These new townhomes are just feet from the floodway of the West Fork in the background.

Detention Pond Just Feet From the Water

The barren area to the left of the six-unit complex is a detention pond. Only problem: it’s virtually in the floodway. See additional shots below.
A retaining wall separating this property from water cuts in from the left edge of the picture (see shot below also). Flood experts advise against putting detention ponds so close to a river because they fill up quickly in a flood and fail to hold water back, which is their purpose.
The retaining wall mentioned above.

Currently In 1% Annual-Chance Floodplain

The new construction currently lies within the 1% annual chance (100-year) floodplain. When the new flood maps are updated based on Atlas-14, both the floodway and floodplains will likely expand.

Source: FEMA National Flood Hazard Layer Viewer. Aqua color equals 1% Annual Chance Flood Zone (aka 100-year flood plain). Red circle indicates location of new townhomes.

Are 164 More Units On the Way?

The developer, Wanbridge, claims to have purchased the grassy area in the middle of the photo below as a “land bank” for 164 condos. A previous iteration of the developer’s website claimed it would be a multistory complex.

But why does Wanbridge claim to own that 2.2 acre grassy patch, when Harris County Appraisal District says it belongs to Rocky Lai’s Sunrise Kings Harbor LP? And if Wanbridge had a contract to purchase the land, why did Lai recently put it up for sale and post a sign on the property?

Other Problems

  • How will you evacuate people in the middle of the night if the next flood comes without warning like Harvey did?
  • How do you reconcile building just feet from a river that flooded homes and businesses more than two miles inland?
  • Why is there no building permit displayed at this site?
  • Why is there no stormwater pollution prevention permit displayed at this site?
  • Why are there no silt fences around the dirt work?

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/1/2020

1099 Days since Hurricane Harvey

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.