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What Went Wrong: First in a Five Part Series about Woodridge Village and Elm Grove Flooding

On May 7th and September 19th, floodwater poured out of the 268 clearcut acres of the Woodridge Village development in Montgomery County. It poured into the streets and homes of people who lived in Kingwood’s Elm Grove Village and North Kingwood Forest. That should not have happened if everything had gone according to plan and by the book. This is the first in a series about what went wrong.

Clearcutting 188 Acres Instead of 30

Let’s start with paragraph 2 of the Drainage Impact Analysis letter from LJA Engineering to the Montgomery County Engineering Department.

In it, LJA promised that PHASE 1 would only include 30 acres on the northern part of the site. But contractors clearcut the ENTIRE northern section instead. That was approximately 188 acres. Without installing any detention ponds there.

The 30-acre mention is buried in the middle of a long paragraph. Frankly I read it several times and never snapped to its significance until Jeff Miller, an Elm Grove activist, rubbed my nose in it.

And, by the way, the 30 acres should have had 12.1 acre feet of detention, according to the plan. (See bottom of page 2 of the letter.) That equals the triangular area in the bottom left of the northern section. But in the May flood, there was nothing there to detain the water. That triangle is actually owned by Montgomery County and was excavated in 2006. One flood expert suggested that the area was already counted as detention for some other area, so it really shouldn’t count for Woodridge.

Of the three Woodridge sections outlined below, Phase One was supposed to include 58 acres in the southern (middle) section and 30 in the northern.
The northern section dwarfs the others.

Gone: Everything that Could Have Slowed Runoff

Gone were the trees, underbrush and wetlands to soak up and slow down runoff. Contractors cleared six times more than LJA Engineering planned. That was a game changer. Plus those 188 clearcut acres had the steepest grade on the property. And the drainage all funneled toward the homes that flooded. Oops! Or should I say, “Duh”?

Map of original drainage on site shows which way water funneled.

It might have been a good plan. But you have to follow the plan for it to work.

Act of God or Act of Man?

Perry Homes claimed the flooding was an Act of God. Funny, the word “bulldozer” never appears once in the Bible, Koran, Book of Mormon, Torah, or Bhagavad Gita.

Next in “What Went Wrong” Series

Next up in this series:

  • Contradictions in Perry Homes Plans
  • Things Perry Homes Didn’t Do in the Montgomery County Drainage Manual
  • The Dirt on Perry Homes’ Soil Test
  • The Floodplain that Wasn’t

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/19/2019, with thanks to Jeff Miller

812 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 61 since Imelda

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.