Tag Archive for: Evergreen

Past Catching Up With Montgomery County

5/23/24 – The past may be catching up with Montgomery County. Heavy rains earlier this month may have flooded more homes in Montgomery County than Harris.

For decades, many Montgomery County leaders refused to acknowledge that they had a flooding problem. Neither, for that matter, did they seem exceptionally concerned about the downstream impact that lax regulations and enforcement had on flooding in Harris County.

For instance, they failed to:

  • Establish a flood control district.
  • Keep drainage channels clear and well maintained.
  • Update floodplain data from the 1980s.
  • Update their subdivision and drainage criteria regulations.
  • Close loopholes that let developers avoid building stormwater detention basins.
  • Fund the inspection of new infrastructure to ensure it complied with regulations.
  • Adequately regulate sand mining.

In fact, they encouraged exponential growth of sand mining by giving miners ag and timber exemptions on their real estate taxes, which the Texas Comptroller says they are not entitled to.

Flooded subdivision near West Fork San Jacinto in Montgomery County. Photo 5/22/24.

Floodplains as a Shifting Target

As a result of all these issues, flooding problems got worse over time. People who had built homes and even entire developments too close to rivers and streams flooded repeatedly. Homes deteriorated and lost value.

Young first-time homebuyers and other low-income people snapped them up, hoping they wouldn’t flood. In some cases, the homeowners didn’t even think they needed flood insurance because of the out-of-date flood maps. Many lost life savings and lived in deplorable conditions until they could scrimp together enough savings to fix their homes.

Many also sought buyouts and disaster relief. But such expenses usually fall on the federal government. So Montgomery County had little incentive to change on that count.

As a result of shortsighted policies and willful blindness, some MoCo leaders presided over the decay of once-proud homes into flood-ravaged housing stock.

And now, that damaged housing stock has created festering eyesores that may tarnish the image of the county as a destination for those trying to flee Harris County’s problems.

Flooded street one mile from West Fork San Jacinto in Montgomery County. Photo 5/22/24.

Self-Destructive Policies Hit Home

The self-destructive policies listed above have become…well…self destructive.

Leaders of decades past could explain away Harvey. “A 1000 year storm!”

But what about the no-name storm of May 2024? Ten-year rains produced so-called “50-year flooding” that rose higher than floodwaters from Tropical Storm Imelda – a greater than 500-year storm. MoCo math strikes again.

I drove for six hours through Montgomery County yesterday, visiting one flooded neighborhood after another. As victims continued to drag waterlogged drywall, carpet, insulation and furniture to the curb, they did not have good things to say about some elected officials.

FEMA Disaster Recovery officials swarmed neighborhoods like this today (5/22/24).

Downriver from the scene above, the main drainage channel through a new development called Evergreen has turned into a river of mud because of rampant erosion. It appears to have no:

  • Silt fences.
  • Backslope interceptor swales.
  • Grass on the sides of ditches.
Evergreen in Montgomery County at SH242 and FM1314 drains into West Fork below the flooded homes above. Did the erosion here reduce the conveyance of the river, back water up and contribute to flooding?

Will Change Come Anytime Soon?

Yes, the past may be catching up with Montgomery County. But change must come from within the county. Harris County can’t dictate it.

The final figures are not yet in. But based on an unscientific “driving around” survey, it appears that Montgomery County suffered as much flooding as Harris County did this May – if not more.

This should be a wake-up call for a course correction by Montgomery County leaders before it’s too late.

Since taking office a short while ago, newly elected MoCo Precinct 4 Commissioner Matt Gray has fought hard to upgrade MoCo standards. The rest of Montgomery County drains through his precinct. Perhaps this event will open the eyes of his fellow Commissioners and County Judge.

We’re all in this together. Even the people north of Lake Conroe will live downstream from others in fast-growing, surrounding counties someday as the region expands relentlessly outward.

The sand mines will follow that growth. Get ready. They’re coming.

San Jacinto River, blocked by sand, now flows through abandoned West Fork sand mine, sending even more sediment downriver.

Dozens of Montgomery County homes flooded downstream from the fiasco in the photo above. Sedimentation may have played a role as it has in the past. It’s just too early to tell.

The time to reach out and work together is now. Not after MoCo math and stuck-in-the-past policies start to look attractive to commissioners and judges in surrounding Liberty, Waller, Grimes, Walker and San Jacinto Counties.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/23/24

2359 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.