Tag Archive for: flood maps

Tree Muggers for Tree Huggers: The Irony of Royal Pines

The “Tree Muggers” at the new Royal Pines subdivision in Montgomery County at the north end of West Lake Houston Parkway continue their relentless and remorseless destruction of trees. How ironic considering that the name implies the developer will market homes to Tree Huggers! Perhaps they:

  • Feel the name will blind customers to the reality.
  • Will offer to plant a ceremonial sapling at closing.

Houston Business Journal said Royal Pines will ultimately feature between 350 and 450 homes targeted at first-time home buyers.

Construction Status on 7/30/2022

Here’s what Royal Pines looked like at the end of July 2022.

Dead tree limbs stacked two stories high awaiting removal. Newly cleared area is at top of frame to the left of Country Colony in the upper right.
Higher angle shows proximity to the Triple PG sand mine in the background. White Oak Creek runs between the mine and the subdivision.
Looking NE toward Triple PG sand mine in background. The extent of clearing as of the end of July 2022.
Looking SSE across Royal Pines toward the current terminus of West Lake Houston Parkway.
Looking SW. The distant clearing is Woodridge Village where similar clearcutting contributed to the flooding of hundreds of homes in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest twice in 2019.
Same direction, but closer and higher. Note the contrast with previous development practices that tried to build homes among the trees.

Ever-Widening Clearing

Compare what the development looked like:

Tree Muggers’ Plans

The following links will show you the general plan and layouts for the first three sections:

Old Floodplain Maps Will Put Unsuspecting Buyers at Risk

Note the dotted lines that snake their way through the top of the development. Those represent the 100- and 500-year floodplains.

Notice how a large part of the development is in “Zone X (Shaded).” That’s the area between the limits of the base flood (100-year or 1% annual chance) and the 0.2-percent-annual-chance (or 500-year) flood. I counted more than 80 homes in that zone. I also see six already INSIDE the 100-year zone.

Keep in mind that these flood zones are based on PRE-Harvey estimates. FEMA shows that Montgomery County last mapped this area in 2014. When FEMA approves new POST-Harvey flood maps in the next few years, those zones will expand to take in more of the subdivision. 

In Harris County, MAAPnext is revising maps based on higher rainfall probability statistics and current changes in development. And a lot of development has occurred upstream of Royal Pines on White Oak Creek.

MAAPnext advises that, in general, new flood maps will show floodways expand into the 100-year flood zone and the 100-year expanding into 500-year by about 50%.

This is the same problem I talked about yesterday with the Kingland West development in Harris County at the Grand Parkway and the East Fork.

We won World War II in less time than it’s taking to release these new flood maps. Ironically, by the time they’re released, the Tree Muggers will have already invalidated the basis for the new maps. And thus, the cycle of flooding continues.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/30/2022

1797 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.

Report on September Meeting of Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative

Matt Zeve, Bill Fowler and I each made presentations at the Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention initiative this evening.

Zeve Addresses Flood Bond and Flood Map Updates

Zeve, Director of Operations for Harris County Flood Control District spoke about the recently approved $2.5 billion Harris County Flood Bond and updates to flood maps. He indicated that timetables for projects should be completed within the next several weeks. He also indicated that the county has already approved drainage work in Huffman and fielded numerous questions from the audience about Taylor Gully, Ben’s Branch, upstream detention and more. Zeve expects flood maps to be updated in 2021 and stated that mitigation efforts could affect those, but that homeowners will have a chance to appeal them.

Rehak Presents Updates on Dredging, The Mouth Bar and Sand Mining

Bob Rehak updated residents on .Dredging, The Mouth Bar and Sand Mining. Dredging, he says, officially started today though not in the way that some expected. The first of two dredges launched today, a 270-ton diesel powered dredge. The launch had been delayed by a key part that had to be remanufactured and reshipped, then inclement weather. The tall construction cranes had to shut down every time lightning was heard in the area because they act like lightning rods. When the dredge finally started making it’s way downriver today, a mechanical dredge had to clear the way. The river was 18 inches deep in places but the dredge draws 3.5 feet of water. That’s how bad the sedimentation was; we needed a dredge for the dredge.

Dredging will take place to the left of the white line, but not to the right. Chimichurri’s in Kings Harbor is the dividing line. Those thousands of numbers on the image represent survey points by the Army Corps Average depth around the mouth bar is 1-3 feet. Max depth is 5 feet in some cross sections. Water will actually have to flow uphill about 40 feet to get past the mouth bar.

Dredging will start near Chimichurri’s just east of West Lake Houston Parkway. The Corps and Great Lakes will then work their way back toward River Grove Park. They expect to finish dredging by April 1, next year. Demobilization could take until early May.

Rehak also addressed the issue of the mouth bar and updated residents on political efforts by City, County, State and Federal officials to jumpstart the next phase of dredging before this one ends so that $18 million in mobilization and demobilization fees do not have to be duplicated for a second job. No plans have gelled yet, but Houston City Council Member Dave Martin may have an announcement to make at his Town Hall Meeting on October 9.

The final part of Rehak’s presentation addressed efforts to reduce sedimentation at its source to reduce the cost of dredging over the long run. Potential solutions include upstream detention, sand traps, and legislation or regulation that changes the way sand mines operate. Rehak specifically mentioned that moving sand mines out of the floodway would solve a host of problems.

Grassroots Co-Chair Clarifies Lake-Lowering Policies, Floodgate Possibilities, and Need for Flood Insurance

Bill Fowler, co-chair of the Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative, opened the meeting by updating the community on policies to coordinate the lowering of Lake Conroe and Lake Houston to provide residents with extra protection from flooding when severe weather is expected. Fowler also gave an update on additional flood gates for Lake Houston. Then he discussed flood insurance and the related issue of redrawing flood plain maps which Harvey made obsolete. Copies of Fowler’s presentations can be found here.

Zeve did not work from a presentation. His remarks were supported by material from the Harris County Flood Control District website. He did, however, specifically urge residents to review the ever expanding Kingwood section of the site.

Diverse Audience of Approximately 200

Approximately 200 residents attended the meeting. Surprisingly, about a third of those did not flood during Harvey. The large turnout by non-flooded residents may have had to do with the flood insurance theme. Fowler emphasized that everyone needs flood insurance;

45 percent of the people who flooded in Harvey were outside of the 500-year flood plain and 64% of those did not have flood insurance.

Thanks to Volunteers

Many thanks to Dianne Lansden, also a co-chair for the Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative for coordinating the meeting; Fran Barrack for refreshments and Bill McCabe for sign ins.

Posted by Bob Rehak on September 18, 2018

385 Days since Hurricane Harvey