Posts

New Drone Shots Reveal Need for Better Flood Control in Liberty County

Since June, I’ve posted about problems in the Colony Ridge development in Liberty County. Among them: the washout of FM1010 where it crosses over Rocky Branch. Authorities have closed the busy road which provides access to Colony Ridge for three years, forcing tens of thousands of residents to seek alternate access routes, such as FM1485 and FM2090.

However, it’s difficult to see all the damage. So today I took a drone and captured some previously unseen details.

Colony Ridge drainage ditch leading to Rocky Branch contributed to washing out FM1010 at far end of ditch.

Lack of Functional Detention Capacity Likely Contributed to Washout

The damage is likely the result of inadequate, poorly engineered, or poorly maintained detention. Another contributing factor: a steep drop in elevation as water leaves the massive ditch (see above) in Colony Ridge and descends through a wooded area toward FM1010. That drop accelerated more water than should have been traveling down Rocky Branch, an East Fork San Jacinto tributary. As a result, floodwaters swept trees and other debris downstream.

One Thing Leads to Another

The debris:

  • Clogged culverts under the road…
  • Then, when the roadbed became a dam…
  • …Water churned through the roadbed next to the culverts…
  • …And deposited more “beaver dams” downstream…
  • …that, in turn, contributed to the flooding of surrounding homes.

Years of Neglect Still Ignored

Amazingly, no one in Liberty County corrected these problems after Harvey. As a result, many homes flooded again in 2019, during heavy downpours on May 7th and September 19th. The problems still have not been fixed. See the pictures below. I took them this afternoon.

Just yesterday, I had lunch with a couple who were considering moving to Liberty County because they were seeking a quieter lifestyle. I told them about this story. They are reconsidering.

FM1010 Washout at Rocky Branch has not been repaired for more than three years. Note flood debris clogged in culvert. Also note straps around logs!
“Beaver dam” just downstream from culverts is building up and up, contributing to additional flooding.

Not All Business is Good Business

Colony Ridge has grown into the world’s largest trailer park in less than a decade. It brought more than its fair share of problems:

A hard lesson for some people to learn is that not all business is good business. Lax enforcement of regulations allowed Colony Ridge to grow out of control. Now county commissioners have a nightmare on their hands, cannot fix their problems, and cannot enforce their own regulations.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/25/2020

1153 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.

New Phase of East Fork Cleanup Begins

Last week, cleanup pontoons motored up and down the East Fork and its tributaries near East End Park in Kingwood. Giant claws mounted on the pontoons plucked downed trees and branches out of the water and off the shoreline. It was all part of a continuing effort by the City of Houston to remove debris that contributes to flooding.

Photo Courtesy of Dee Price. Taken at East End Park where Peach Creek, Caney Creek and East Fork all come together.

Stopping Beaver Dams Before They Start

During floods, the downed trees get swept downstream. They form “beaver dams” that back water up when the debris hangs up on other trees, boat docks, bridges and the Lake Houston dam itself. Removing the debris lowers the risk of flooding and damage.

During Harvey, such debris gathered in supports of the Union Pacific Bridge over the west fork, where it contributed to flooding in Humble.

Union Pacific Bridge immediately after Harvey. Photo Courtesy of David Seitzinger.
Donna Dewhirst’s boat dock received a 70-foot surprise during Harvey.
Rail bridge over Lake Houston after Harvey. Photo courtesy of Donna Dewhirst.
Logs collect at Lake Houston Spillway. Photo taken on 6/16/2020.

Improving Boater Safety

The debris pickup also improves boating safety when lake and rivers are low. Submerged trees can injure and kill boaters and water skiers.

Semi-submerged trees in Lake Houston just north of FM1960 Bridge. Photo taken March 6, 2020.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/21/2020

1028 Days since Hurricane Harvey