Imelda’s Third Anniversary Brings Clearcutting into Focus

Today is the third anniversary of the day Tropical Storm Imelda flooded approximately 600 homes in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest. A major contributing factor: clearcutting 268 acres immediately upstream. Here are several pictures and videos that people sent me.

Looking NW at Woodridge Village days before Imelda. During the storm, water flowed toward the circle, bottom right, with little to slow it down. Overflow went into surrounding streets. See video below taken from ground level.
September 19, 2019. Sheet flow from the Woodridge Village development flows down Village Springs in Elm Grove.
Family evacuating through North Kingwood Forest.
Car submerged during Imelda at the end of Village Springs adjacent to Woodridge.
People living in campers while restoring their homes from the May 7, 2019 flood were flooded again.
Security cam time lapse footage in Elm Grove on east side of Taylor Gully.
Depth of flood in Elm Grove was about two feet at this house.
Elm Grove debris pile after Imelda flood.
Abel Versa had to grab his car to avoid slipping in ankle-deep muck on Village Springs.
The bridge over Taylor Gully at Rustling Elms in Elm Grove caught debris flowing downstream.

Before the clearcutting, these areas had not flooded – even during Hurricane Harvey.

Lessons Lost

Lawsuits against the Woodridge Village developer and its contractors quickly followed. And flood victims won a major settlement. But the clearcutting lessons learned in court seem to be lost on other developers.

Lately, it seems that developers all around northern Harris, southern Montgomery, and Liberty Counties have employed clearcutting.

These represent just a few of the clearcutting stories I’ve covered in the last few months. So far, they’ve been lucky. We haven’t had any tropical storms like Imelda.

But still, risk remains. You’d think developers would hedge that risk by leaving some trees. They reduce erosion. Suck up rainwater. Slow down runoff. And filter water that may overflow detention basins.

But it’s their property. And your problem if we get another Imelda.

Posted by Bob Rehak on September 19, 2022

1847 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 3 years since Imelda