This morning, Dr. Charles Campbell, shared a spectacularly beautiful and inspiring photograph with me. He took it right here in Kingwood. It symbolizes all the hope and promise of a new day, maybe even a new year. Dr. Campbell jogs every morning at sunrise in East End Park where he took this shot.
Sunrise over Lake Houston from Kingwood’s East End Park at Otter Point. Photo courtesy of Dr. Charles Campbell.
Reconstruction to Date
As I lost myself in this photo, I reflected on the progress our dynamic community has made this year.
- Most people have rebuilt from Hurricane Harvey or are at least close to completion.
- Most businesses have returned.
- Kingwood College should completely re-open in January with $60 million of renovations and new construction.
- Kingwood High School also received an estimated $60 million makeover and update.
- Memorial Hermann opened a new 45,000 square foot Convenient Care Center in the heart of Town Center.
Flood Mitigation Progress
And to help prevent a repeat of Harvey:
- The Army Corps of Engineers has started a $67 million dredging project which it hopes to complete by next April.
- City, County, State and Federal leaders have rallied to urge FEMA and the Corps to extend the project past the mouth of the river. Both of these projects should help move water through the river faster.
- Mayor Turner has promised to add 10 new flood gates to the Lake Houston dam. This will help shed water to Galveston Bay faster in future storms.
- Harris County voters approved a historic $2.5 billion Flood Bond. It includes money that will help build the gates and dredge the river on an ongoing basis.
- The bond package also includes money to help build additional upstream detention. That will hold water upstream in future flood events.
- The SJRA adopted a policy of seasonally lowering Lake Conroe during the peak of spring rains and the Hurricane Season. They will hopefully continue this until other mitigation measures are in place. This helps give us an additional buffer against giant storms.
- The City of Houston adopted a policy of lowering Lake Houston, also in anticipation of major storms. Again, this gives the lake extra capacity to absorb more runoff before the river is forced out of its banks. This also is a temporary measure until other mitigation measures are completed.
- Government buyouts of repeatedly flood-ravaged homes have already commenced.
- The county is also buying out properties below the Lake Houston dam in anticipation of higher flow rates once additional gates are installed.
- Harris County has purchased floodway property and will convert it to new parks. Construction on Edgewater Park will begin next year and create a second boat launch for area residents.
- The City passed a new ordinance requiring homes to be built 2 feet above the 500-year flood plain.
- TexDoT completely reconstructed and strengthened the I-69 southbound lanes.
- The County and the Corps are starting to open up ditches like the one at River Grove that drains the western third of Kingwood.
Dredging has reached the side bar and up into the drainage ditch at River Grove past the boat dock. Photo Courtesy of Dave Seitzinger.
New Day for the Community That Refused to Quit
Clearly, we have a lot to be thankful for this Christmas. But as I look back, the thing I am most thankful for is that the people of this community chose not to ignore flood issues. We addressed them head on. As a result, our our homes, health and future will be much safer.
When I moved to Texas almost 40 years ago, I fell in love with the can-do attitude of Texans.
Tell a Texan something can’t be done and he’ll show you how.
Tell a Texan it’s hopeless and she’ll tell you to get out of her way.
And among Texans, few embody this spirit more than Houstonians, especially those in the Lake Houston area.
Posted by Bob Rehak on December 5, 2018
463 days since Hurricane Harvey