Tag Archive for: clearcut

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.

93% of Flood-Damaged Homes in Kingwood and Forest Cove Are Near Area Clearcut by Figure Four Partners

I spent four hours driving around Kingwood and Forest Cove this afternoon counting flood-damaged homes from the heavy rains last week. I counted a total of 211. Of those, 196 were in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest. That means 93% were near the 262 acres that Figure Four Partners clearcut for its new development in Montgomery County.

Approximate area where vast majority of damage occurs. Arrow represents direction of drainage from lower third of Figure Four Partners’ new development.

The remaining 15 homes appeared to be isolated, low-lying homes or homes with blocked drains. Only four of those in Woodland Hills and Bear Branch appeared related to creek or ditch flooding. The rest were scattered around Kingwood and Forest Cove.

Breakdown by Location

Here’s the breakdown of what I could find … in descending order.

  • Elm Grove – 175
  • North Kingwood Forest – 21
  • Bear Branch – 5
  • Forest Cove – 4
  • Woodland Hills – 3
  • Trailwood – 2
  • Kings Forest – 1

Most damaged homes outside of Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest appeared to be isolated instances in low-lying areas. In two places, I saw two damaged homes next to each other.

I could only find four homes (plus the St. Martha school and Kids in Action) that flooded near Bens Branch. Bens Branch is another stream about the size of Taylor Gully and not far from it.

I expected to find many more flooded homes near Bens Branch. But after going down dozens of cul-de-sacs and finding no damage, I abandoned that search.

Massive Concentration Raises Legal Questions

The concentration of damage within a few blocks of Figure Four Partners’ 262 clearcut acres will certainly raise legal issues for the developer and its contractors. So does the fact that all the other creeks in the Kingwood and Forest Cove area put together did not flood more than six homes/businesses that I could see. Several law firms are already reportedly filing law suits on behalf of flood victims. More on that later.

Figures Understated

These numbers may be understated because I may have missed some homes where trash had already been picked up. I was looking for the tell-tale wallboard residue in grass where people had piled sheetrock, but trash crews were doing a pretty good job.

Social media reported damage in Hunters Ridge, Sherwood Trails, Kings Mill and Kings Point. But I did not see the damage. If someone flooded in these areas, please send me your address through the contact form on this web site and I will update the count.

Also, I have not yet ventured to Atascocita, Huffman, or Porter. More on those areas in a subsequent post.

People on ten streets in Porter reported damage; all streets appear to be close to the new development, but I have not verified the proximity of damaged homes on those streets to the clearcut area. That 93% figure could rise or fall depending on what I find in Porter.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/14/2019, with thanks to Regan McMahon-Cohen for compiling a list of streets and neighborhoods from social media

623 Days since Hurricane Harvey

All conclusions expressed in this post are opinions on matters of public policy. They are protected by the Anti-SLAPP statute of the Great State of Texas and the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Simple Demonstration Underscores How Clearcutting Contributes to Flooding

We all understand intellectually that vegetation helps reduce runoff. But I never fully appreciated how MUCH runoff it could prevent until I saw this video. Michael Jrab sent the link to me this morning. It shows a brilliantly simple, table-top experiment in a science class. The experiment dramatizes the value of vegetation and how clearcutting can contribute to flooding by accelerating the rate of runoff.

It takes only a minute or so to watch. Notice both the volume AND THE CLARITY of the water coming out.

Now contrast that with this shot of erosion in the clearcut area just north of Elm Grove. One can only wonder how fast the water moved through here.

Part of the 262 acres clearcut by Figure Four Partners, LTD, a subsidiary of PSWA and Perry Homes.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/13/2019

622 Days since Hurricane Harvey