Tag Archive for: FEMA

Additional Dredging on the Horizon in 2019

Reprinted verbatim from Council Member Dave Martin’s announcement:

The “Mouth Bar,” a giant sand bar that blocks the West Fork of the San Jacinto, backing the river up into Kingwood and Humble. Water depth is generally 1-3 feet around this bar. Max channel depth in places is just 5 feet.

Houston, TX – Council Member Martin would like to make District E residents aware that the City of Houston continues to make progress towards Harvey Recovery with both state and federal agencies. Over the last fifteen months Council Member Martin has been working diligently with Chief Resiliency Officer Stephen Costello, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Governor Abbott, Chief Nim Kidd, as well as the offices of Senator Ted Cruz and Senator John Cornyn towards several initiatives that would have a positive impact on the Lake Houston Area.

Most recently the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has completed the bathymetry study of the West Fork of the San Jacinto River for the City of Houston. Data from this study has been given to the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to determine the amount of sediment that resulted from Hurricane Harvey. This information is useful because this study identifies underwater topography allowing the City to understand where the additional sediment brought in by Hurricane Harvey has been deposited in the river and lake as well as changes in depth.

The TWDB continues to survey the entire lake for the Coastal Water Authority (CWA), the agency that contracts with the City for management of the Lake Houston Spillway Dam. The schedule for the TWDB to complete their survey of Lake Houston is Summer 2019. In addition to conducting a bathymetric study the City of Houston is currently reviewing data collected by the ACOE during a recent Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) study which uses light in the form of pulsing lasers to measure the distance from the water’s surface to the bottom of the river and lake. Capacity losses due to sedimentation in the lake as well as East and West Forks of the San Jacinto River will be determined using the LIDAR data along with the completed bathymetric study once the TWDB has completed their survey and report.

The LIDAR study allows the City to map changes in shoreline as well as make digital elevation models. It is this data that is assisting the City and ACOE in determining the amount of sediment that needs to be removed from locations along the West Fork of the San Jacinto River like the “mouthbar” that is located just south of the Deerwood Country Club. The LIDAR Study results will also be used by the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) for the creation of new flood insurance rate maps because of the changing rainfall patterns published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The flood insurance map study will utilize updated LIDAR surveys of the entire county and will take several years to complete, however HCFCD is already hiring consultants to assist with this work.

On October 11, 2018, Council Member Martin met with Governor Abbott’s Executive Staff, TDEM, FEMA, and ACOE in Austin where a lengthy discussion was had about the amount of sediment deposit that will still remain in the San Jacinto River after the current emergency dredging project is completed. The current emergency dredging contract is not scheduled to be complete until the end of April 2019. At this meeting the City’s consultant estimated that after the completion of the existing dredging project that there will be approximately 500,000 cubic yards of additional sediment that needs to be removed from the river known in the community as the “mouthbar”.

This estimate however was based on a comparison between the LIDAR study completed by the ACOE this year and a bathymetric study completed by the TWDB in 2011. The important takeaway from this meeting in October is that FEMA agreed that the additional sediment qualifies as Harvey debris however, the estimate of 500,000 cubic yards was not a true amount directly associated with Hurricane Harvey. The City does not have survey data that is immediately pre and post-Harvey which would provide us a true amount of residual sediment that is a direct result of Hurricane Harvey. The City is currently waiting on the ACOE to complete its analysis of the City’s data.

At the meeting in Austin the ACOE indicated that an additional disposal site would be needed in order to remove the additional material. As a result the City of Houston has been proactive in identifying a site, thanks to the assistance of a local landowner that has property on the south side of the West Fork of the San Jacinto. The land owner has retained an environmental consultant to determine any possible wetland issues that may prevent use of the property for disposal. As of right now it appears the property is a viable site and a formal permit was filed with the ACOE this week.

In summary, the process to have the “mouthbar” removed from the West Fork of the San Jacinto River has been an arduous one. All parties from local, state, and federal agencies have been working together to accurately define the area needed for additional removal so that capacity can be restored to the river and reduce the effects of future flooding. The removal of the “mouthbar” cannot begin until the existing emergency dredging along the West Fork of the San Jacinto River is completed. Since this is a reality the City is doing all that it can to be proactive in securing land as well as permits for the “mouthbar’s” removal once the existing project is completed by the ACOE in April. This will allow the ACOE to keep equipment and crews in place without the need for demobilization and remobilization, saving roughly $18 million.

In observance of Thanksgiving the District E office will be closed Thursday, November 21 and Friday, November 22. The District E team will return to the office on Monday, November 26. Council Member Martin would like to wish all District E residents a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday. For more information regarding this release, please contact Council Member Martin’s office at (832) 393-3008or via email at districte@houstontx.gov.


By Dave Martin’s Office on 11/21/2018

449 Days Since Hurricane Harvey

New Difference Map Confirms Buildup of West Fork Sediment Around Mouth Bar, Underscores Need for Removal

A new “difference map” published by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) shows the rapid build up of sediment in the West Fork of the San Jacinto River where it meets Lake Houston. Difference maps show changes in sediment levels over time.

When Stephen Costello, Chief Resiliency Officer for the City of Houston, presented this map at the Kingwood Town Hall Meeting on October 9, it was to describe three potential phases of West Fork dredging..

Having had several days to review and discuss this map, several other things became clear. See the map and legend below.

West Fork Difference Map. Brown/red/orange/yellow/green areas represent decreases in sediment since last survey. Blue, violet, pink and white represent increases.

Conclusion #1:

The worst sediment buildup in the West Fork is near the mouth…exactly where retired Lake-Houston-area  geologists Tim Garfield and RD Kissling said it was when they raised the alarm about the mouth bar month’s ago.

Conclusion #2:

The problem is much worse than even they suspected. This clearly shows the extent of the West Fork’s mouth bar.  Like an iceberg, the part you see above water is only a small part of the bigger picture.  Vast new sediment deposits extend down to FM1960.

Conclusion #3:

Even Harvey-strength currents could not cut through the mouth bar. Therefore, smaller floods won’t be able to either.

Conclusion #4:

The mouth bar creates a sediment dam in the river that will exacerbate flooding. If the mouth bar area is not dredged, it will cause higher-than-normal flooding on smaller-than-normal rainfall.

Google Earth shows that the area between the mouth bar and FM1960 comprises 1700 acres. According to the difference map, this area received an average of approximately 2 feet of sediment. This means the channel and lake lost 3400 acre feet of capacity in this area.

Conclusion #5:

The mouth bar must be removed immediately. It and adjacent shoal areas get higher with every passing day and storm as water becomes shallower. If the mouth bar is left in place, it will slow the river, causing the area upstream (that is now being dredged) to fill more rapidly than normal with sediment.

Difference Map Proves Mouth Bar Must Go NOW

The mouth-bar area was the focus of the Corps’ survey efforts. They have known for months that it is the major problem. As they stated in Galveston at a meeting I attended, it is the primary driver for backwater and upstream flooding. Their value engineering report also states that in the event of another heavy rainfall, there is a “near certain likelihood” that wide-spread flooding will occur impacting even more homes than before Harvey, due to the river’s inability to pass high volumes of water. See Page 2 for the words engineers almost never use without cause.

We’ve been lucky so far this hurricane season. But minor floods earlier this year on March 28/29 and July 4 proved how serious this problem is. Had the City not lowered the level of Lake Houston for July 4, homes almost certainly would have flooded according to Houston City Council Member Dave Martin.

This Week’s Holdups

At a meeting in Austin last week, the City, Army Corps, FEMA, County and State of Texas all agreed in principle that the mouth bar needs to be removed. Further, if it can be added to the current dredging project, taxpayers can likely save $17 million or more in mobilization fees for a second, separate project at a later date.

Only two hurdles remain: a disposal site for the dredged material and an environmental survey.

A large disposal site is already under review that is much closer to the area of concern than either of the two current sites.

The proposed disposal site’s proximity could save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars more.

However, the environmental survey could delay the project beyond April when current dredging is expected to finish. If so, that could also increase flood risk.

Trees on the mouth bar initially led the Corps to exclude the bar from dredging for two reasons: one was environmental, the other legal. According to the Stafford Act, the enabling legislation for FEMA, FEMA funds cannot be spent to fix things that existed before Harvey. The existence of the trees proved that at least part of the mouth bar existed before Harvey.

The “Mouth Bar.” Note the trees on the right end.

Let’s Get Real

If the trees on the island raise an environmental concern, leave the part of the island that existed pre-Harvey. Dredge the channel and other parts of the island first.

This area includes 3-5+ft of Harvey derived sediment which should qualify for FEMA disaster recovery funds under the Stafford Act based on the new TWDB map.

The longer we wait to dredge this island, the more vegetation will grow on it, the more resistant to erosion it will be, and the more expensive it will be to dredge.

Are the Army Corps and FEMA trying to save an invasive species that USDA wants to eradicate?

Close examination from a boat showed the trees in question to be Chinese tallow trees, an invasive species that the USDA has been trying to eradicate from here to Florida. It’s actually poisonous to local animals. If this tree costs taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in delays and opportunity costs, it will become the new poster child for government waste and folly…especially if Humble, Kingwood and Atascocita flood in the meantime. This is one delay I certainly wouldn’t want my name associated with. That’s the wrong way to go down in history.

This tree on the mouth bar which initially caused the Army Corps to exclude the bar from dredging is a Chinese tallow, an invasive species which the USDA is trying to eradicate. Note the heart-shaped, aspen-like leaves – the tell-tale identifier.

Posted by Bob Rehak on October 14, 2018

411 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Harvey Time Capsule: Marina Drive in Forest Cove

It’s been more than a year since Hurricane Harvey. Much of Houston has improved remarkably since then. But one neighborhood near the San Jacinto West Fork seems frozen in time: Marina Drive in Forest Cove. It’s the land that Solid Waste forgot.

Forest Cove Townhomes destroyed by Harvey and swallowed by sand. Photograph from 9/14/17, two weeks after Harvey. Not much has changed since then. 

Featured in FEMA Video Filmed Last Month

When FEMA came to Houston last month to shoot a video about Harvey, they asked ReduceFlooding.com for location recommendations. They wanted a place that told the story of the storm. It took me about a nanosecond to recommend the apartments/townhomes on Marina Drive.

Forest Cove Townhomes destroyed by Harvey. This and following photos taken a year later on September 28, 2018.

The Forest Cove Property Owners Association has fixed up the community swimming pool. But everything around it still triggers memories of the terror that night in August, 2017, when Harvey dealt the final death blow to these ill-fated townhomes.

Forest Cove Townhomes now targets for vandals, looters and squatters.

Ravaged by Numerous Floods, but Killed by Harvey

The townhomes had been ravaged by previous floods, but Harvey was different. Three residents I talked to told me the water reached 17-23 feet high – well up into the second story. To put that in perspective, joists in the garage level are set at 11 feet.

You can see holes chopped in roofs where thieves stole roof-mounted AC condensers. One building appears to have been swept off its foundation. Bedsheets spray-painted with “FEMA HELP” still flutter from second story balconies. Sand clogs the streets and storm drains. Five foot high dunes cover fences and shoreline. Trash litters the parking lots. Graffiti and mold cover what’s left of the homes. An old oil pumper supports vines. Oil storage tanks sit twisted and lonely, off kilter. Not one person still lives there. The homes are uninhabitable.

Forest Cove Townhome destroyed by Harvey. Area is now a target for graffiti artists. 

More Marina Drive Townhomes destroyed by Harvey. In addition to the trash in the parking lot, note the hole chopped in the roof to rescue people in the middle of the photo.

Reportedly, these properties are being bought out by FEMA and Harris County Flood Control to reduce future flood risk. Some offers have already been made according to Glen Allison, a member of the Homeowners Association. Allison also said that “Three units were swept away. Two more completely collapsed. There was tremendous structural damage throughout.”

Someday the area may be turned into parkland. The county has been trying to buy this land and convert it into a linear park since 1994 – almost 25 years ago. Not much has happened since then. The last section in a document from Harris County Flood Control titled 2018 Federal Briefing: Unprecedented Opportunity discusses progress of various buyout programs going back 29 years.


Excerpt from HCFCD map showing historical buyout programs in Forest Cove.

FEMA and HCFCD completed voluntary buyout programs in 1994 (pink), 1998 (blue), 2005 (yellow) and 2008 (lavender).  However, as of this spring, they were still trying to complete buyouts from 2014 and 2016 (see table below, also from 2018 Federal Briefing referenced above).

Forest Cove properties were part of the 2014 and 2016 buyout programs that were still not completed at the time of Harvey and HCFCD’s Federal Briefing last spring.

Maybe this time! Meanwhile, someone please call for a trash pickup.

Posted by Bob Rehak on October 7, 2018

404 Days since Hurricane Harvey

How County Bond Funds Could Leverage Additional Dollars

Early voting for the $2.5 billion Harris County Flood Bond Referendum begins August 8. If approved,  the County could leverage that money to increase the amount available for flood mitigation. Matching funds from FEMA, HUD, the State, and other sources are available. These grants usually operate on a 75/25 or 90/10 basis, returning $3 to $9 for every dollar put up.

Local Dollars Leverage Matching Funds

If voters approve the $2.5 billion referendum, the bond funds could potentially bring in billions of additional dollars. Here is how funding for Flood Control District projects works. (For a printable PDF, click here.)

Partnership Matching Funds Available for Harris County Flood Control District Projects

Bond money can be used as “seed money” for some types of projects. It qualifies us to receive additional money in the form of grants from other partners such as the Federal Government, State, Coastal Water Authority or the City.

Federal dollars for Harvey flood mitigation efforts are available now, but may go elsewhere if we don’t act. Every city along the Gulf Coast is competing for available matching funds.

Partnership Projects: More Leverage but Less Control

Even though you may not be able to follow all the ins and outs of the diagram above, you should be able to see that many opportunities exist to extend the impact of our own dollars. That’s the good news. The downside is that when you start spending other people’s money, they want to have a say in how you spend it. It’s important that we understand risks as we move forward. To get more money, we must give up some control.

Q: How will projects in the bond proposal be selected and prioritized?

A: Harris County Commissioners Court directed Flood Control District staff to develop list of projects. This is not an exact list of projects that must be or will be built with bond proceeds. It represents a list of projects that would meet the goal of the bond election, which is to both assist with recovery after previous flooding events (including Harvey) and to make our county more resilient for the future.

High on the priority list are construction-ready projects with federal funding partners (such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency) that give the County “the most bang for its flood control buck.”

Q: Can the bond money be used for purposes other than flood risk reduction?

A: No. Under Texas law, bond funds in this election could only be used for the purpose approved by the voters. Bond funds will not be used to fund additional staff positions at the Harris County Flood Control District.

Q: Do bond proceeds have to be used for the specific projects recommended by the Flood Control District?

A: No. Voters will be asked to authorize bonds for flood damage reduction projects, but specific projects may be added to the list of potential projects in the future or projects on the list could be modified based upon public input.

However, officials can only spend bond money on projects supported by the Bond Language. Voters will not be voting on a specific project list, only on the language in the proposal.

Freeing Up Budget to Improve Maintenance

Maintenance is NOT in the bond proposal. Nevertheless, the bond could still improve maintenance in a roundabout way. Here’s how. About half of the Flood Control District’s current $120 million per year budget goes to capital expenditures. If approved, the bond would free up about $60 million currently focused on construction projects.

The other $60 million in the Flood Control District’s budget is devoted to Maintenance and Operations. It is roughly divided as follows: $30 million for salaries and overhead; $10 million for mowing; and $20 million for maintenance.

That $20 million currently devoted to maintaining ditches, bayous and streams, if added to the $60 million that is freed up, would make $80 million that could be devoted to improving maintenance. That means the District’s maintenance budget could quadruple.

Yea or Nay?

On balance, I like how the bond is shaping up and I trust the people in charge of it. I wish that the $50 million allocated for a dredging partnership project was a dedicated $50 million. Then, if the bond proposal passes, we might be able to get the Army Corps to extend the scope of their current dredging to include the giant sand bar at the mouth of the West Fork. Addressing that issue as a change order to the current contract could save years, save dollars, and reduce risk immediately.

Posted on June 23, 2018, by Bob Rehak

328 Days since Hurricane Harvey

USGS Report on Peak Streamflows During Harvey Significantly Revises Flood Probabilities

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a report this week that shows inundation maps, peak streamflows, detailed flood information, and new flood probabilities from Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Harvey, it says, was the most significant multi-day rainfall event in U.S. history, both in scope and peak rainfall amounts, since records began in the 1880s.

Flood during Harvey looking east from the south side of the West Fork of the San Jacinto. Photo courtesy of Harris County Flood Control District.

Hurricane Harvey’s widespread 8-day rainfall, which started on August 25, 2017, exceeded 60 inches in some locations. That’s about 15 inches more than average annual amounts of rainfall for eastern Texas and the Texas coast. The area affected was also much larger than previous events.

New High Water Marks and Record Streamflows

USGS field crews collected 2,123 high-water marks in 22 counties in southeast Texas and three parishes across southwest Louisiana.

Record streamflows were measured at 40 USGS streamgages in Texas that have been in operation at least 15 years. At two streamgage locations, scientists determined that the percent chance for flooding of this magnitude to happen in any given year was 0.2 percent. This probability is also referred to as a 500-year flood. Thirty other USGS streamgages experienced flooding at levels with a 1 percent chance of occurring each year, also known as a 100-year flood.

Check out the “event viewer” noted in the report, especially if you are interested in high water marks in your neighborhood.

How Data Will Be Used

The USGS conducts research on the physical and statistical characteristics of flooding, estimating the probability of flooding at locations around the United States.

The purpose of the study was to check the probability of future occurrences and map the extent of flooding in Texas.

These records will assist officials in updating building codes, planning evacuation routes, creating floodplain management ordinances, providing environmental assessments and planning other community efforts to become more flood-resilient. FEMA will also use this information to revise their Flood Insurance Rate Maps. These maps help identify areas most likely to experience flooding in any given year.

Gages Closest to Lake Houston

The section on the San Jacinto Watershed starts on page 33. The maps for the San Jacinto watershed appear on pages 35 and 36. Use the maps to see the new high water marks in the area and to find the USGS gages nearest you. For most people in the upper Lake Houston Area, it will be one of these gages:

  • 08068090 – Grand Parkway and West Fork near Porter
  • 08069500 – West Fork and I-69 near Humble/Kingwood
  • 08070500 – Caney Creek near Splendora
  • 08069000 – Cypress Creek near Westfield
  • 08068500 – Spring Creek near Spring
  • 08071000 – Peach Creek near Splendora
  • 08070200 – East Fork near New Caney
  • 08071280 – Luce Bayou above Lake Houston near Huffman

After you locate the gages nearest you, cross reference the numbers of those gages with data at the front of the report. It helps to use the search function in Adobe Acrobat because much of the information is in tables with very small type.

Examples of What You Will Find

Here’s an example of what you can find. For the gage nearest many of the sand mines on the West Fork (08068090), peak streamflow was estimated at 131,000 cubic feet per second. That was the highest of the 33 peaks previously observed at that location (from Table 3 on Page 9).

Now here’s the big news: From the same table, we can see that the Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) is 2.4.  That’s the likelihood of occurrence of a flood of given size or larger occurring in any one year, expressed as a percentage.

AEP is often expressed as the reciprocal of ARI (Average Recurrence Interval). For instance, A 10-year flood has a 10 percent probability of occurring in any given year, a 50-year event a 2% probabaility, a 100-year event a 1% probability, and a 500-year event a .2% probability.

In this case, a 2.4% AEP would have a likely recurrence interval of 42 years, given the new realities of upstream development, any changes in climate, and pocket calculators with more computing power. This means that the West Fork Gage ((08068090) at the Grand Parkway DID NOT even experience a 100-year flood! Yes, we can expect to see worse in the future.

That’s a far cry from the 1,000-year flood that some talked about earlier and raises real public policy questions about locating sand mines in floodways.

Despite the fact that Harvey was the largest rainfall event in recorded U.S. history, USGS now predicts that it would take even bigger floods to reach the reconfigured 100-year, 200-year and 500-year recurrence intervals: 196,000, 263,000 and 374,000 cfs respectively for West Fork Gage at Grand Parkway (Gage #08068090 from Table 5, Page 14). So the new 500-year flood would have almost triple the volume of Harvey.

Humble Gage Data Missing From Report

Unfortunately, the Humble Gage at I-69 does not show up in the tables even though it is on the map and the cover of the report. This is likely in part due to the fact that the gage stopped reporting during the event due to the excessive streamflow

They may also have not reported the exceedance probability due to the shorter recent record.

For all the other gages, the Annual Exceedance Probabilities translate to new recurrence intervals ranging from 35 to 250 years. The gages at the low end of that range tend to be in the fastest developing neighborhoods.

Implications of New Findings

The report will stimulate public policy debate about development near rivers and the most effective methods of flood mitigation.

After reading this, I believe more than ever that we need more detention, dredging and gates (DDG). We need all three to help us handle the volumes of floodwater that USGS expects at more frequent intervals. Prayer, while advisable, is a less certain option in my mind than including DDG in the flood bond and passing it.

BTW, there was some confusion Tuesday night at the flood bond meeting. A small number of flood control employees incorrectly told residents that dredging would not be possible under the bond. It will be according to Matt Zeve, whom I contacted today.

Posted July 12, 2018 by Bob Rehak

317 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Benefits of Flood Insurance vs. Disaster Assistance

At the 2018_FloodWarn_Training_Kingwood on May 2, Diane Cooper of FEMA pointed out several startling statistics about the Hurricane Harvey Flood and flood insurance.

Home outside the 100-year flood plain during Hurricane Harvey.

According to the City of Houston, approximately 90,000 structures OUTSIDE of the 0.2% Risk Area (500-year flood plain) were impacted. Additionally, another 30,500 structures INSIDE the 1% risk area (100-year flood plain) and 29,000 in the 0.2% risk area flooded.

However, out of approximately 150,000 total homes flooded, only 26,511 insurance claims were filed. That’s because approximately only one in six Houstonians had flood insurance.

Most people felt that if they lived outside the 1% risk area, flood insurance was an expense they could do without. Yet four in every five flooded homes were outside the 1% risk area.

Let’s examine flood insurance vs. disaster assistance as hedge against such risk.

The following information came from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) portion of the FEMA website.

Flood Insurance

Flood insurance has six primary benefits:

  • You are in control. Flood insurance claims are paid even if a disaster is not declared by the President.
  • More than 20 percent of NFIP claims from from outside of mapped Special Flood Hazard Areas.
  • There is no payback requirement.
  • Flood insurance policies are continuous, and are no non-renewable or canceled for repeat losses.
  • Flood insurance reimburses you for all covered building losses up to $250,000 for residential occupancies and upon to $500,000 for businesses. Contents coverage is also available up to $100,000 for residential occupancies and up to $500,000 for businesses.
  • The average cost of a flood insurance policy is about $600 annually. The cost of a preferred risk policy is less than $450 annually, if you live in a moderate-to-low-risk area.

Disaster Assistance

Compared to flood insurance, disaster assistance has several drawbacks.

  • Most forms of Federal disaster assistance require a Presidential declaration.
  • Federal disaster assistance declarations are not awarded in all flooding incidents.
  • The most typical form of disaster assistance is a loan that must be repaid with interest.
  • The duration of a small Business Administration (SBA) disaster home loan could extend to 30 years.
  • The average Individuals and Households Program award for Presidential disaster declarations related to flooding in 2008 was less than $4,000.
  • Repayment on a $50,000 SBA disaster home load is $240 a month or $2,880 annually at 4 percent interest.

The More You Know, the Better Flood Insurance Looks

Everyone should have flood insurance. Remember, not all flooding comes from rivers and streams. During Harvey, thousands of homes flooded from overflowing streets when storm drains and sewers backed up. Floods can happen anytime, anywhere…even in deserts.

Homeowners insurance policies typically don’t cover flood damage. Disaster assistance payouts will not come close to covering all the damage that people typically suffer from a flood. And the most common type of disaster assistance is a loan that must be repaid with interest.

You can buy flood insurance through the NFIP regardless of your flood risk; it’s easy to get through any licensed broker. You can even use your credit card. Consider it seriously as we enter another hurricane season and a tropical wave is expected to slime us this weekend.

Posted by Bob Rehak on June 12, 2018

287 Days since Hurricane Harvey

FloodWarn Workshop Presentations Now Online

If you missed the FloodWarn Workshop at Kingwood College on 5/1/18, you missed a lot of helpful information. All four FloodWarn Workshop presentations are now posted in one PDF in the reports section of this web site or via this link.

National Weather Service

Distribution Map

Rainfall during Hurricane Harvey

Katie Landry-Guyton, Senior Service Hydrologist/Meteorologist from the National Weather Service-Houston/Galveston office, talked about various types of floods, then focused on river flooding. She discussed the various types of forecasts and warnings NWS has to help you understand levels of risk. She also discussed details of how NWS formulates forecasts. For weather wonks and flood victims, it’s a must-see.

Harris County Flood Control

Jeff Lindner, Meteorologist/Director, Hydrologic Operations Division of the Harris County Flood Control District then discussed the hydrology of Harris County. Within this context, he addressed four types of floodplains in the county, the District’s flood warning system (FWS), inundation mapping/ forecasting down to the street level, and expansion of the District’s gage network.

San Jacinto River Authority

Jace Houston, General Manager of the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), talked about the dam operations at Lake Conroe. Specifically, he explained how they made the decision to start releasing water during Harvey. Houston also introduced the SJRA’s new regional flood management initiative.


Rounding out the evening, Diane Cooper of FEMA Floodplain Management and Insurance. Cooper, who has posted several times on this blog, is a Kingwood resident. She focused on flood risk, hazard mapping and flood insurance.

Among the surprising facts cited:

  • The National Flood Insurance Program processed 26,511 claims as a result of Harvey.
  • 55.2% of those claims came from OUTSIDE of the 100 year flood plain.
  • Only 17% of Houstonians had flood insurance (about 1 in 6)
  • 30,500 structures were in the 1% risk area (100 year flood plain)
  • 29,000 structure were in the 0.2% risk area (500 year flood plain)
  • City-wide, Harvey impacted approximately 150,000 structures
  • That means that more structures were impacted outside the 0.2% Risk Area than inside, approximately 90,000.

Cooper cited this last point as the reason why everyone should have flood insurance whether they are officially in the flood plain or not. This was a common theme all night among all four presenters.

They also pointed out that not all flooding comes from rivers. Much flooding comes from streets. Streets in Kingwood are designed as part of the flood retention system. They can deliver approximately two inches of rainfall per hour through the storm drains to the ditches. When the rainfall rate exceeds that, drains will back up into streets and release the water slowly so as not to overwhelm the ditches.

Moral of the story: even if you’re nowhere near the river or a drainage ditch, you can still flood from your street and, therefore, need flood flood insurance.

For more interesting tidbits, download and review all four FloodWarn Workshop Presentations.

Posted May 2, 2018

246 Days Since Hurricane Harvey



MAY 1, 6:30-8:30 PM

TONIGHT, May 1st at 6:30-8:30 p.m., The National Weather Service (NWS), Harris County Flood Control, and FEMA, and the San Jacinto River Authority are hosting a FloodWarn Workshop. They will talk about the types of flooding we see in the Kingwood/Humble area, the watersheds, forecasts, warnings, flood risks, and flood insurance.

Giant sand dunes like this one where the West Fork meets Lake Houston inhibit the flow of the river. Engineers say that sediment is not being carried out into Lake Houston (background) as expected. Areas behind these dunes experienced massive flooding during Harvey.

Organizers hope the event will help people in the Lake Houston Area better understand what goes into forecasts. They will also address their limitations, the risks associated with severe events, and actions to take in response to various types of warnings.

The NWS has posted the event on its Facebook page: The event is free and open to the public at Lone Star College – Kingwood at 20,000 Kingwood Dr., Kingwood, TX.

The National Weather Service provides forecasts and river flood warnings for the river gage at the San Jacinto River at Humble. Based on the readings there and elsewhere, the Weather Service forecasts “flood impacts.”

Flood impacts identify what structures, roads, bridges, etc. will flood when the river reaches a specific level. These impacts drive the establishment of the flood categories of Minor, Moderate and Major.

This FloodWarn workshop will be our opportunity to share our flooding concerns with the National Weather Service. If impacts need to be modified or updated, this is the community’s opportunity to provide that feedback.

Plan to attend. Make sure the NWS knows how important accurate and advanced warning forecasts are to you. With accurate forecasts we can be prepared for the next flood.

National Weather Service Hosting FloodWarn Workshop in Kingwood

On May 1st at 6:30-8:30 p.m., The National Weather Service (NWS), Harris County Flood Control, and FEMA, and the San Jacinto River Authority are hosting a FloodWarn Workshop. They will talk about the types of flooding we see in the Kingwood/Humble area, the watersheds, forecasts, warnings, flood risks, and flood insurance.

Organizers hope the event will help people in the Lake Houston Area better understand what goes into forecasts. They will also address their limitations, the risks associated with severe events, and actions to take in response to various types of warnings.

The NWS has posted the event on its Facebook page: The event is free and open to the public at Lone Star College – Kingwood at 20,000 Kingwood Dr., Kingwood, TX.

The National Weather Service provides forecasts and river flood warnings for the river gage at the San Jacinto River at Humble. Based on the readings there and elsewhere, the Weather Service forecasts “flood impacts.”

Flood impacts identify what structures, roads, bridges, etc. will flood when the river reaches a specific level. These impacts drive the establishment of the flood categories of Minor, Moderate and Major.

This FloodWarn workshop will be our opportunity to share our flooding concerns with the National Weather Service. If impacts need to be modified or updated, this is the community’s opportunity to provide that feedback.

So mark your calendar
Event: FloodWarn Workshop
Sponsors: National Weather Service, Harris County Flood Control, FEMA
For: Lake Houston Area Residents
When: 6:30-8:30 P.M., Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Where: Kingwood College, 20,000 Kingwood Drive, Kingwood, TX

Plan to attend. Make sure the NWS knows how important accurate and advanced warning forecasts are to you. With accurate forecasts we can be prepared for the next flood.

Posted April 22, 2018, 236 days since Hurricane Harvey