Tag Archive for: flooding

Crucial Week for Future of Subsidence, Flooding

Three meetings will make this a crucial week for subsidence and flooding for large parts of Montgomery and Harris Counties. For months now, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) has adamantly opposed any mention of subsidence in its Desired Future Conditions (DFCs) while it argues for increased groundwater pumping. But LSGCD must get the other members of Groundwater Management Area 14 (GMA-14) to approve its DFCs before they can allow increased pumping. And opinions regarding those DFCS are far from unanimous. GMA-14 members are pushing for a metric that limits subsidence; LSGCD is fighting that.

TownshipFuture Meeting Tuesday

With that in mind, a group called TownshipFuture will host a Zoom webinar featuring experts from the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), the Houston-Galveston Subsidence District (HGSD), and The Woodlands Water Authority (WWA). Says Robert Leilich, president of Woodlands MUD #1 and a steering committee member of TownshipFuture, “The meeting will explore how the cost of water is related to the potential for more flooding and what you can do about it. Upcoming proposals from the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District could lead to increased subsidence, causing residents to pay more for water. These proposals could also increase the risk of physical damage to homes and the risk of flooding in flood-prone areas of The Woodlands.”

The TownshipFuture Meeting is Tuesday, April 6, at 7PM. The Zoom webinar is free and all are invited. To register, go to https://forms.gle/GYcG1Q1uekCGbrCz6. You will be sent an email with instructions how to sign into the webinar.

TownshipFuture has also launched a petition opposing the desire of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District to increase groundwater pumping. To view the TownshipFuture petition to the GMA 14 Board of Directors, click here or go to https://townshipfuture.org/home/our-advocacy/petition-to-limit-groundwater-pumping-in-montgomery-county/.

GMA 14 has the authority to approve or disapprove any increase in LGGCD’s groundwater pumping. To support the petition, add your name at the bottom.

LSGCD Meeting Wednesday

Then, on Wednesday, April 7, at 4PM, the LSGCD will hold a special board meeting. According to the agenda, the board will go into executive session immediately after public comments to consider litigation. (However, they don’t disclose the nature of the litigation.) They will then take up two matters:

  1. Proposed Desired Future Conditions for GMA 14.
  2. Hiring a PR firm.

LSGCD staff recently finished a series of stakeholder input sessions. But the agenda does not list a report to the board on staff findings.

The hiring of a PR firm is a highly unusual move for a group of this nature. According to some observers, it indicates that LSGCD failed to convince scientists of their position on subsidence and is now taking its case to the public. One insider, though, claimed the board just feels “misunderstood.” They feel they are the victims of “misinformation.”

The LSGCD meeting will also be a Zoom webinar. To register, visit https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_cxsukkSBSg2VQE9uiUayRA. For other participation options or to make public comments during the meeting, see the instructions at the start of the agenda.

GMA-14 Meeting Friday

On Friday, April 9 at 9AM, GMA-14 will take up the matter of DFCs. It has a statutory deadline to meet to finalize DFCs: no later than January 5, 2022.

However, GMA-14 has a May 1 deadline to formulate proposed DFCs for 14 counties. So if LSGCD and the other members can’t reach a suitable compromise this week, they will need to schedule another meeting before the end of the month. And they are already pushing up against a public notice requirement for a second meeting.

Between May and January deadlines, GMA-14 must solicit public comments for 90 days on the proposed DFCs; review and publish the comments; adopt or modify the DFCs; and submit them to the TWDB. Final adoption of the DFCs requires a two-thirds vote of all the members of the groundwater management area.

At the last GMA-14 meeting, LSGCD requested more time to meet with stakeholders and its board before finalizing a DFC statement. The big questions are, “Will LSGCD request more time to finalize a proposed DFC statement for Montgomery County?” And if so, “Will it include a mention of subsidence?”

You can attend the GMA-14 meeting via the GoToMeeting App. Register here. Click here for the meeting agenda. And click here if you wish to make a public comment.

How Subsidence Relates to Flooding

USGS is a non-political, scientific agency. It states in its research that the “land subsidence in the Houston-Galveston Region … partially or completely submerges land”, “disrupts collector drains and irrigation ditches”, and “alters the flow of creeks and bayous which may increase the frequency and severity of flooding.” To read the full research on Texas Gulf Coast Groundwater and Land Subsidence, please visit: https://txpub.usgs.gov/houston_subsidence/home/

Other scientists have also documented links between subsidence, flooding, and other damages. Check out these studies.

Subsidence exposes inland areas to increased risks of flooding and erosion by altering natural and engineered drainage-ways (open channels and pipelines) that depend on gravity-driven flow of storm-runoff and sewerage. 

Expected subsidence in Harris County if GMA-14 lets Montgomery County pump 30% of its aquifers (70% remaining). The assumption going in was that this could cause up to 1 foot of subsidence, but modeling shows it creates far more.

Differential subsidence, depending on where it occurs with respect to the location of drainageways, may reduce or enhance preexisting gradients. Gradient reductions decrease the rate of drainage and thereby increase the chance of flooding by storm-water runoff. See https://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/circ1182/pdf/07Houston.pdf.

Other studies show that:

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/5/2021

1315 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.

House Committee Releases Report on Sand Mining

A House Interim Committee on Aggregate Production Operations (APOs, which include sand mining) just released a 77-page report focusing on the Hill Country and San Jacinto River Basin. The report validates many of the concerns ReduceFlooding.com has raised about sand mining for years.

One of multiple breaches at the Triple PG mine in Porter left open for months until the Attorney General sued the mine.

Purpose: To Balance Priorities While Addressing Concerns

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen created the committee to help balance public protection, regulation and economic growth. Bonnen tasked the Committee with reviewing complaints about APOs and making recommendations to the 87th Texas Legislature. Issues include:

  1. Nuisance issues relating to noise and light
  2. Transportation safety and road repairs
  3. Air quality
  4. Blasting
  5. Reclamation
  6. Distance from adjoining properties
  7. Disruption of groundwater
  8. Water quality
  9. Sedimentation and flooding
  10. Municipal ordinances.

The report begins with a description of the balancing act regulators face. Sand and gravel used in concrete support economic growth. But they also impact surrounding property values, impact the health of neighbors, and lower quality of life when they cut corners and operate outside of industry best practices to lower production costs.

A number of bills in the last legislative session sought to resolve these conflicts and many, such as “best practices” will be reintroduced during the session which started this month. Pages 7-10 describe the legislation attempted in the last session.

Below, I summarize each issue listed above in order.

Noise Pollution

The main sources of noise from APOs come from the machinery used to move earth, process raw material and move product. Blasting is also a major consideration in the Hill Country.

The U.S. Mining Health and Safety Administration (MSHA) characterizes noise and one of the most pervasive health hazards in mining. Prolonged exposure to hazardous sound levels over a period of years can cause permanent, irreversible damage to hearing. Hearing loss may occur rapidly under prolonged exposure to high sound levels, or gradually when levels are lower and exposures less frequent.

Ways to reduce noise from moving equipment include use of strobes, alarms, camera systems and motion sensors that can trigger backup beepers as needed.

To mitigate noise from processing equipment, the report suggests chute liners and screens made of rubber or urethane to dampen the sound of the rock hitting the sides of the conveyors. Acoustical enclosures such as walls, berms and natural vegetation can also help protect neighbors.

APOs should monitor the noise exposure at their property line, keeping the noise level at their property line below 65 dB if the property line is within 880 yards of a residential area, school, or house of worship, and 70 dB if not.

Report Recommendation

Light Pollution

APOs create light pollution when the dust they generate scatters light and creates haze. Those that operate at night may require light for safety that keeps neighbors up.

APOs should be held to IDA and IES standards for outdoor industrial lighting, and fined when they don’t.

Report Recommendation

These standards provide operator safety yet shield neighbors from the most annoying effects of light pollution.


The high volume of heavy trucks used to move product creates traffic safety issues near APOs and damages roads. TxDOT allows APOs to build 90-degree driveways. These are less expensive, but more dangerous than acceleration and deceleration lanes which provide massive safety benefits.

Dust and small rocks coming off of trucks cause windshield damage and obscure vision of nearby drivers. Placement of roadway bumps leading up to acceleration lanes would help shake off the dust and smaller rocks from the trucks before they make their way onto the highway.

Studies have also shown that the level of damage to the integrity of roads by heavy commercial vehicles far outpaces the funding they contribute through gas taxes. Such vehicles pay $.03 per mile, but cost $.26 per mile.


  • Change TxDOT protocols to allow for an agreed upon change to a driveway should traffic conditions change.
  • Require that new APOs have enough right of way purchased to construct acceleration or decelerations lanes.
  • Commission a study to establish a Pricing Model for Pavement

Air Quality

Suffice it to say that the health risks of breathing APO dust are voluminous.

Short-term exposure can result in coughing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and irritation of the eyes.

Long-term exposure can result in reduced lung function, and respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, emphysema, impairment of brain development, low birth weight, lung cancer, stroke, aggravation of existing lung disease, and death.

OSHA, MSHA and other agencies responsible for worker health continue to reduce allowable exposure levels for labor; these same reduced exposure levels should be applied to the general population as well, says the report.

Testimony from those living near APOs who have been affected by the decline in air quality demonstrates that regular regional air-quality monitoring is insufficient. So, TCEQ does not know what the actual, real-time particulate concentrations are in the air near APOs.

  • Require APOs to set up onsite monitoring.
  • Commission a study to determine cumulative effects of adjacent mines, each outputting a compliant level.
  • Modify the TCEQ permitting process to include county commissioners, municipal authorities and others.


This is a bigger problem in the Hill County than Houston. So I will skip it here.


APO’s can suddenly cease operation for a number of reasons: bankruptcy, depleted assets, decline in demand, etc. While sites can never be returned to their original condition, they CAN be restored for safe, alternative uses.

At a minimum, this means removing hazardous materials and industrial equipment, and sloping walls to avoid leaving dangerous collapses.

  • Require APO to file a reclamation/restoration plan.
  • Require operators to post a Surety Bond to cover all reclamation costs in the event the operator fails to reclaim disturbed lands.
  • Address all potential future safety and environmental problems (fugitive dust, erosion, etc.) in reclamation plans.

Distance from Adjoining Property

Current regulations depend on the type of facility and the type of equipment in use. This makes regulations complex and difficult to interpret.

  • Revise permits to define setbacks by the distance from the APO property line rather than the specific piece of equipment.
  • Require a setback of 880 yards for concrete batch plants.
  • Establish setback rules for all APOs that treat platted subdivisions as residential areas.

Groundwater Disruption

The committee found inconsistent groundwater conservation rules around the state. Many counties did not even have Groundwater Conservation Districts, or if they did, they could not assess the cumulative regional impact of APOs on water supply. Historic APO water use data is not readily available to the public.

  • The Texas Water Development Board should complete an in-depth assessment of APO water use.
  • Study future water supply, especially for the Houston area, where sedimentation threatens Lake Houston.
  • Require APOs to recirculate groundwater to conserve groundwater resources.

Water Quality

The committee found that TCEQ regulations for APOs are less rigorous than for other types of surface mining enforced by the Railroad Commission.

APOs construct ponds based on their preferred ‘best management practice,’ often without rigorous engineering or regulatory inspection. Testimony from neighbors indicated sediment-laden discharge damaged property. TCEQ found that nearly half (42%) of APO enforcement actions (not related to registration) were due to noncompliance with water-quality rules.

Groundwater pollution by APOs is also a legitimate concern.

  • Require Texas APOs to comply with requirements for Texas coal and uranium mines.
  • Improve rules and regulatory processes to provide a higher level of protection from pollution by APOs.
  • Provide more robust and frequent groundwater inspections.
  • Perform dye-trace studies to determine groundwater flow-paths in areas close to major water wells.

Sedimentation and Flooding

The committee found sand mining along the San Jacinto River to be one of the contributors of excess sedimentation. It also aggravated flooding issues in Montgomery and Harris Counties during and after Hurricane Harvey.

Also, “The result of partitioning large areas of the floodway from rising floodwaters by levees and dikes can result in increased flooding of adjacent areas. Flood-induced breaches in levees can also add to the problems of flooding and sedimentation downstream.”

Unfortunately, breaches and unauthorized discharges are sometimes left unreported and unrepaired unless citizens file reports to the TCEQ. Even when violations have been documented by the TCEQ, fines have been minimal, averaging ~$800/violation from 2013-2017. Worse, the TCEQ inspects mines only once every two years for the first six years, and then once every three years thereafter.

The committee also found that in-river mining has continued along the West Fork of the San Jacinto even though no permits have been granted by TPWD. TPWD enforcement appears to be lax. “Thus, it is likely regulations will have little or no effect on in-river mining.”


Municipal Ordinances

The report found that municipalities (as opposed to counties) already have the power to require minimum buffers in Public Health and Safety requirements and nuisance abatement ordinances. The committee specifically cited the City of Houston. But much mining remains outside of municipalities. So it recommended granting authority to counties to establish setbacks between incompatible land uses and to regulate water wells to avoid possible groundwater contamination.

Lack of Industry Cooperation

This report began by acknowledging the need for balance. However, it ended by complaining about the lack of industry cooperation.

For instance, TACA claimed that pushing facilities father from where products are needed will “add a tremendous amount of cost.” When the committee tried to investigate such economic claims, TACA refused to document them. The committee then reached out to trade groups in other states to substantiate TACA’s claims. However, all those groups refused to respond or simply ignored the requests.

That led to one final recommendation. Should concerns about the potential economic consequences become substantiated by reputable data, the legislature should institute a “Best Practices Compliance Incentive Program.”

It would require TCEQ to certify that all APOs trying to do business with the state comply with industry best practices.

To read the entire report, click here.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/26/2021

1246 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.

UH Geology Professor Weighs in with TCEQ on BMPs Related to Sand Mining

Professor Emeritus William Dupré, Ph.D., of the University of Houston’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences filed a 36-page report with the TCEQ on sand mining in the San Jacinto River Basin. Dupré has broard experience with geologic hazards and risk assessment. He submitted his report in support of the petition filed with the TCEQ by the Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative to establish best management practices (BMPs) for sand mining.

The first issue that Dupré identified is flooding. “With one exception, all sand mines in the San Jacinto River Watershed are located partially or completely within the regulatory floodway, an area delineated by FEMA as having the highest potential for flooding (and erosion) along major waterways. “[T]he floodway is an extremely hazardous area due to the velocity of flood waters which carry debris, potential projectiles and erosion potential…”. (Montgomery County Flood Plain Management Regulations, 2014, p.25)

Floodway Constriction

Dupré notes that partitioning large areas of the floodway from rising floodwaters by levees and dikes can result in increased flooding of adjacent areas.

A good example: sand mines on the north side the San Jacinto West Fork and I-45 have walled off half the floodplain, forcing floodwaters onto neighboring property on the south side.

Sand mines have walled off more than 200 acres west of I-45 and north of the San Jacinto West Fork. See below.
The high dikes force floodwater to the other side of the river rather than allowing it to spread out on both sides. The concentration of water in a smaller area also increases the velocity and erosion. For close-up of area inside red circle, see image below.
This shows how high the dike around the sand mine is.

Levee Failure Can Flush Pollutants into Waterways

“Flood-induced breaches in levees can also add to the problems of flooding, erosion, and sedimentation downstream,” Dupré says, flushing sediment and other pollutants into adjacent land, wetlands, and waterways. See two examples below.

In the top row, river migration eroded the pit wall which allowed the contents to drain into the West Fork near North Park Drive. In the bottom row, the entire contents of a mine pit drained into the West Fork near Bennett Estates.

In-Stream Mining Disrupts River Habitat

A. Google Earth image of point bar on the west Fork of the San Jacinto River; B. Same bar 5 months later showing un-permitted (i.e. illegal) In-stream “bar-scalping.”

“Since the passage of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act Amendments of 1977, some states have heavily restricted or banned in-stream mining, as have many countries,” writes Dupré. “These restrictions are mainly based on the significant environmental problems associated with this type of mining.”

Such mining can create major disruptions of riparian habitats by increasing the amount of sediment put into suspension. “Major channel modifications can also occur, including upstream incision (headcutting) and downstream erosion and deposition.”

BMPs Can Make Compliance with Regulations More Efficient

In his paper, Dupré next examines applicable regulations and suggests several BMPs to supplement them. He recommends that:

  • All APO’s should develop and make available to regulators and the public a Comprehensive Mine Plan and an Environmental Assessment Report on potential impacts before permits are issued.
  • Likewise, all APO’s should develop and make available to regulators and the public a Reclamation Plan before permits are issued and file a performance bond ensuring reclamation before a production permit is granted. Such permits should have significant civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance.
  • New mining should be minimized or restricted in delineated floodplains and floodways and channel migration zones (areas most like to be eroded by lateral migration and river avulsion).
  • Mines should be “prohibited within the adopted regulatory floodway unless it has been demonstrated through hydrologic and hydraulic analyses that the proposed encroachment would not result in any increase in flood levels…. A development permit must be secured from the Flood Plain Administrator prior to the placement of fill or other encroachment in the floodway….” (Montgomery County Flood Plain Management Regulations, 2014).
  • Stockpiles should be located outside the floodway, because of the high potential for erosion (and resultant sediment pollution) during frequent flooding.


Dupré acknowledges that aggregate mining clearly provides valuable material and employment to the state and nation.

Nonetheless, Texas is one of the few states where sand and gravel mines remain largely unregulated. Issues related to flooding, erosion, and sedimentation create many unintended (and undesirable) environmental and economic impacts associated with sand and gravel mines – especially in the San Jacinto River watershed. “I believe there is a clear need for the requirement for BMP’s to better protect the public and the environment,” says Dupré.

TCEQ Public Comment Period Rapidly Coming to a Close For Sand Mining BMPs

On November 11, the TCEQ held a public hearing on a joint proposal between TACA and the Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative to establish best management practices for sand mining in the San Jacinto watershed. The public comment period closes on December 11, 2020 – in just 12 days.

If you want to weigh in on the subject, you can review presentations from the hearing here. TACA and the Lake Houston Area people are in substantial agreement on most points. However, they still differ on four key issues.

  • Where should the BMPs be enforced? On the main stems of the East and West Forks or on the smaller tributaries, too?
  • Should there be performance bonds for reclamation?
  • How far from rivers should the sand mines be set back for safety reasons?
  • Should compliance with best practices should be voluntary or mandatory?

If you have comments or questions for the TCEQ, please e-mail Outreach@tceq.texas.gov. Make sure to include “Sand Mining Rulemaking” in the subject line of your e-mail.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/29/2020

1188 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.

Perry Homes: Trick or Treat?

In the spirit of Halloween, it’s only fair to ask, “Is Perry Homes tricking or treating when it talks about Woodridge Village?” What Perry Homes says and what Perry does seem to contradict each other in a scary, horror-movie, Stephen-King, Cujo-on-steroids sort of way.

The Cujo analogy actually fits; man’s best friend turns into something not so nice. Woodridge Village is the 262-acre area that Perry contractors clear cut and then left before finishing the detention ponds. This contributed to the flooding of hundreds of homes in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest – twice so far this year.

Words vs. Actions

What do I mean by contradictions? A dozen examples:

  1. They said Elm Grove flooding had absolutely nothing to do with Woodridge Village … when they had just clear-cut hundreds of acres.
  2. Their consultant, LJA, promised the Montgomery County engineer that Woodridge would have no adverse impact on downstream flooding … then 200 homes flooded.
  3. They claimed the May 7th flooding was God’s fault … when they had only 7% of the detention built.
  4. After May 7th, they claimed they had “many” detention ponds COMPLETE … when they really only had one (S1).
  5. Perry promised the City of Houston and Montgomery County five detention ponds, but built only two… and they comprise less than 25% of the volume.
  6. They say they want to accelerate work on new detention, but haven’t done any new excavation work since August.
  7. Perry blamed construction delays on wet weather … as people were choking on clouds of dust.
  8. As a concession to wary flood victims, they promised not to build additional impervious cover … on hard-packed clay that was already largely impervious.
  9. The company said it is researching events that led up to flooding … while the construction site is a ghost town.
  10. Perry said how saddened it was to see the flooding in Elm Grove Village … as workers and equipment left the community unprotected.
  11. Perry claims they need “approvals” to build additional detention. How did they start the job without approvals?
  12. They said their hearts went out to flooded homeowners, right before suing them.

A Moving Experience

Last week, I wrote about how they hadn’t moved the equipment on their job site for a month. The day after the post, they parked the equipment in new places. But still no new excavation work.

Equipment parked on the northern side of the site for a month moved to the western side but still is not working.

How could anyone take Perry Homes at its word any longer? They certainly aren’t a treat and they’re not tricking anyone. The courts need to put an end to the Nightmare Near Elm Grove.

Posted by Bob Rehak on Halloween, 10/31/2019, with that to Jeff Miller

793 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 42 days after Imelda

The thoughts expressed in this post are my opinions on matters of public policy and concern. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Thursday AM River, Lake Report for Lake Houston Area; Flash Flood Warning In Effect

The National Weather Service just issued a FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR OUR AREA. Extreme rainfall rates of 3-6 inches per hour could lead to extensive and rapid onset flash flooding. This flash flooding will be possible over the Humble, Kingwood, Huffman, Crosby areas if a line of thunderstorms progresses slightly more to the SSE over the next few hours.

Given saturated grounds and already high water levels in E/NE Harris County these sort of rainfall totals would result in significant run-off and flash flooding.

Travel is strongly discouraged in the Flash Flood Warning and Flash Flood Emergency areas.

Overnight, the remnants of TS Imelda continued to shift north. The heaviest rainfall occurred north and east of Houston. The East Fork of the San Jacinto is at flood stage at Splendora and New Caney. The NWS has issued multiple flood warnings for that area.

A band of intense rainfall with rates of 3-5 inches per hour continues from Conroe to Porter to Liberty to Winnie.

Conroe Airport recorded 5.16 inches of rain in the last hour. 

This band of intense rainfall will move into the NE portions of Harris County over the next hour impacting areas around Kingwood, Humble, Huffman, and Crosby.

Flash flood warnings for much of the NE Houston, SE Montgomery County and W Liberty County that had been due to expire this morning have been extended to this evening.

Intense rainfall rates will result in rapid onset urban flash flooding. It is already in progress in SE Montgomery County. 

Source: National Weather Service via SJRA.net

West Fork and Lake Conroe Well Within Banks

Overnight, the West Fork of the San Jacinto at the SH99 (Grand Parkway) received another three inches of rain.

Lewis Creek on Lake Conroe received two inches in the last couple of hours.

Lake Conroe is now at its seasonal lowering target of 199 feet (actual reading is 198.88). Until now, the lake had been about a half a foot lower than its target due to evaporation. Despite the rain, Lake Conroe is still two feet below its normal level of 201 feet. That means an additional two feet of buffer remains before the lake reaches its normal level. Another two feet remains beyond that before the lake would have to open its gates.

The West Fork at US59 is at 43.5 feet, a little up, but still six feet from coming out of its banks.

Source: Harris County Flood Warning System

Currently Lake Conroe is still releasing 0 cubic feet per second. I.e., NOTHING.

East Fork Getting Hammered

Over on the East Fork, it’s a much different story. The storm has hammered that area all night.

  • Caney Creek at FM2090 received 12 inches in the last 24 hours and almost 6 inches in the last six hours. And 4.5 inches between 6 and 7 am.
  • The East Fork at New Caney has risen 18 feet since yesterday and will continue rising. It is currently at 62.78 feet.
  • FM1485 is now under water and closed.
  • Peach Creek at Splendora rose 10 feet since yesterday.
  • The East Fork at 2090 received more than 14 inches of rain in the last 24 hours, more than 8 of those inches falling overnight. As a result, the stream rose another six feet since 2 a.m. Flooding is now likely.
Source: Harris County Flood Warning System
Source: Harris County Flood Warning System

Lake Houston Up Slightly

Lake Houston is at 42.78 feet. Normal is 42.38. As East Fork rains descend into the lake, we can expect a rise. How much depends on the amount of rain this morning across the region.

The remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda should continue to drift slowly north today as extremely warm and moist air flows into Southeast Texas.

This moisture will feed the development of slow moving and training thunderstorms with rainfall rates of 3 to 5 inches per hour.

A persistent swath of storms across Eastern Montgomery, Liberty and Chambers county should wobble north then south early this morning.

Storms should continue to expand and develop further to the west as far out as the College Station by mid to late morning. Eventually a band of rainfall should develop and amounts across the band of 3-5 inches should be common with isolated amounts near 10 inches while outside of the band heavy rainfall may be more scattered in nature with amounts of only 1 to 2 inches.

The heavy rains will not only cause street flooding but with the elevated river and bayou levels more river flooding is likely to occur. The flash flood watch may need to be extended this evening. The flood threat may begin to shift further north tonight toward the Madisonville and Huntsville and Crockett areas.

Worst to East; Consider Yourself Lucky

As bad as this sounds, it could be worse. Areas east of us received an incredible 17.24 inches of rainfall in 6 hours near HWY 124 with a storm total nearing 28 inches. Catastrophic flooding is in progress along I-10 between Winnie and Beaumont.

Protective Actions

DO NOT Travel. Wait until the threat of high water has passed. 

Turn Around, Don’t Drown®:  Do not drive through flooded areas.  If you see water covering the road, do not attempt to cross it.  Only a few inches of water can float a vehicle . If you find yourself in a dangerous situation where your vehicle is taking on water, get out of the vehicle, get to a higher position, and call 911.  

Monitor Official Sources for Current Information:  Harris County Flood Warning System (harriscountyfws.org), Houston TranStar (houstontranstar.org), and the National Weather Service Houston/Galveston Forecast Office (weather.gov/hgx).

Monitor Stream, Bayou, and Creek Conditions:  Rain may move repeatedly across the same area, causing creeks and bayous to rise and possibly exceed their banks.  Stay informed of current conditions and avoid traveling near creeks and bayous.

Avoid Traveling during Periods of Heavy Rain:  Rain can reduce visibility and prevent you from seeing the road ahead, which could lead to accidents.

Posted by Bob Rehak at 7:30 a.m. on 9/19/2019

751 Days after Hurricane Harvey

East Fork Rose 11 Feet Today; Almost Out of Banks at FM1485

The East Fork of the San Jacinto at FM1485 received almost 10 inches of rain today, including almost two inches in one hour late this afternoon.

Just upstream at 2090, the East Fork also received more than 10 inches in heavy bursts throughout the day.

As a consequence, the East Fork has risen 11 feet in the last 20 hours. It currently stands at about 57 feet. Flooding becomes likely at 60 feet.

Therefore, the river has three more feet to rise before coming out of its banks at FM1485.

Stay alert. For the most up to date information, consult:

  • HarrisCountyFWS.org
  • Click on the gage nearest you.
  • Select “For more information”
  • Click on the Rainfall and/or Stream Elevation tabs to see graphic representations like those above.

Better yet, establish an account and sign up for automated alerts. You can customize your preferences or accept defaults for as many gages as you wish.

The ground is already saturated. So any additional rainfall will result in rapid runoff So good luck to East Fork residents tonight and tomorrow.

Jeff Lindner, Harris County Meteorologist says “Additional rainfall amounts of 2-4 inches with isolated amounts up to 6 inches will be possible in this area with totals west of I-45 generally less than 2 inches.”

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/18/2019 at 6pm

750 Days since Hurricane Harvey

NY Times Article Says Quarter of Humanity Facing Looming Water Crisis

An article in the New York Times about a looming water crisis caught my eye today. Datelined Bangalore, India, the article describes how “Countries that are home to one-fourth of Earth’s population face an increasingly urgent risk: The prospect of running out of water.” So what does that have to do with flooding? Many of those countries also experience cyclic flooding. Sound familiar?

Uncanny Parallels to Houston

In yet another uncanny parallel to our situation – i.e., with the Water Wars in Montgomery County – “…some are squandering what water they have. Several are relying too heavily on groundwater, which instead they should be replenishing and saving for times of drought.”

And then we have the subsidence parallel. Mexico City, claim the authors, draws groundwater so fast that the city is literally sinking.

In Chennai, India’s fourth largest city, residents accustomed to relying on groundwater for years now find none left. So the city is forced to transport water from farther and farther away (like our Luce Bayou Project). They lose significant amounts in the process due to evaporation and leakage.

The World Resources Institute expects the number of people worldwide living in “extremely high water stress” to nearly double in the next decade.

Cape Town, a city roughly the size of Houston, had to ration water last year.

Drought and Flooding Solutions Often Overlap

In Bangalore, lakes that once dotted the city have been filled in, much the way we fill in wetlands, so they can no longer collect rainwater and serve as the city’s water storage tanks.

That parallel reminded me of the dwindling water capacity in Lake Houston due to sedimentation. With backup supplies in Lake Livingston and Lake Conroe, Houston certainly doesn’t have to worry about running out of water any time soon. But as recent sedimentation surveys near the mouth bar showed, we do have to worry about loss of lake capacity.

Difference map developed by Tetra Tech for City of Houston in Feb/March, 2019, showing areas of deposition and scour near the West Fork Mouth Bar. Overall, Tetra Tech estimates that this small 350-acre area of Lake Houston gained 504-acre feet of sediment since the previous survey in 2011. Brown areas represent more than 5 FEET of deposition.

Drought and floods represent two sides of the same coin. This article reminded me that solutions to one problem can also help solve the other. For instance…

  • Developing adequate surface water supplies and saving ground water as the backup. This can reduce subsidence which can lead to flooding.
  • Improving lake/river capacity by dredging can eliminate blockages that also cause flooding.

As we move forward with West Fork and maintenance dredging, we should remember this. We aren’t just looking at costs that benefit Lake Houston residents. We’re looking at costs that benefit millions of residents in the larger metropolitan area. It’s not just about flooding. It’s also about water capacity for a rapidly growing population.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/6/2019

707 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Harris County Precinct 4 METRO and Mobility Funding Also Under “Equity” Attack in Commissioners Court

The equity flap continues. In its June 25th meeting, Harris County Commissioners Court voted 3-2 to take a portion of METRO funding AWAY from Harris County Precincts 3 and 4. This vote impacts Precinct 4 constituents by $3,069,709 in road construction funds this year alone.

This attack was just a beginning. Commissioners Ellis and Garcia stated in a joint press conference that they seek to also go after portions of Precinct 3’s and 4’s Mobility Funds…based on…you guessed it…equity. Watch the video above all the way to the end. An estimated $6 million per year is at stake in Precinct 4.

Basis for Equity

The current formula for distribution of METRO and mobility funds accounts for the number of road miles each precinct must maintain.

However, Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis, once again, is trying to redistribute funds based on “equity,” which he defines as more for people who are “historically disadvantaged.” Specifically, he often refers to slavery when he talks about equity. Mr. Ellis represents a precinct that is roughly 39 percent African American, 37 percent Latino, 18 percent Anglo, 5 percent Asian and 1 percent other.

Compared to precinct 4, Precinct 1 also has 38% of the lane miles, 42% of the asphalt roads, one third of the unincorporated land mass, and one fourth of the housing starts.

I don’t dispute the existence of “historically disadvantaged” ethnic groups. However, I do question why road funds should be distributed by race. It seems other factors such as need, area covered, growth rate, or population served relate more directly.

Highest Percentage of Unincorporated Population in Precinct 4

Historically speaking, the county’s mission is to provide services to unincorporated areas.

So let’s start this discussion by looking at the percentage of county residents within each precinct who live in unincorporated vs. incorporated areas, such as the City of Houston. Here we see that Precinct 4 must support virtually triple the the number of unincorporated residents that Precinct 1 supports. Residents who live in unincorporated areas have support other than the county to help meet their needs.

Precinct 4 must support virtually triple the the number of unincorporated residents that Precinct 1 supports.

Highest Percentage of Road Miles in Precinct 4

Another way to look at need is by the number of road miles that each precinct must maintain. Here we can see that Precinct 4 has more lane miles, thoroughfare miles, and open-ditch asphalt roads to support than Precinct 1 by wide margins.

Highest Percentage of Growth in Precinct 4

Growth rates also factor into need in a very direct way. Here again, we can see that Precinct 4 is growing faster than Precinct 1 by many measures.

  • Change in “total population” percentage (incorporated + unincorporated)
  • Change in unincorporated population percentage
  • New housing and apartment starts
Residents inside the City receive county funds, too. Precincts receive them based on a weighted formula.

Precinct 4 Also Has Larger Area to Cover than Precinct 1

From the table above, we can see that Precinct 4 also has about 6.51% more square miles to service than Precinct 1.

What Funds Go For

Precinct 4 maintains over 2,600 road miles and 327 bridges in a 72% unincorporated area. 

Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle said, “These Mobility Funds maintain and construct roads that keep traffic moving. They also provide roadway access for a prompt response for law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services that will ensure the continued safety of all residents.” 

The ditches that parallel those roads also play a huge role in carrying water away from neighborhoods, thus reducing the risk of flooding.

Subversion of Language

The inclusion of equity in the flood bond language seems to have opened a Pandora’s box. When I listen to Commissioner Ellis and when I look at hard data, I get the feeling that the meaning of “equity” is being distorted as part of a crass money grab. This isn’t equity. It’s Commissioner Ellis seeking reparations for misdeeds of generations past.

To me, equity in this context means a fair, just, impartial, or balanced distribution of funds.

Equity should be based on objective measures, such as area served, population served, or miles that must be maintained. Those should be debated openly.

The way Commissioner Ellis uses the word, however, the outcome becomes the opposite of equity. Money is not distributed based on per capita, per road mile, or per square mile. It’s based on racial preference and results in an inequitable distribution of funds based on other objective measures.

It’s hard to reason with someone flaming about racial injustice 200 years ago. And Mr. Ellis, like most demagogues, knows that. He also exploits it. I just hope he doesn’t kill growth in Harris County while he’s doing it. Because that’s where he’s headed…including (insiders say) redirecting money from the flood bond.

Voice your opinion at the next Commissioners Court meeting on Tuesday, July 9

Commissioners Court meetings are open to the public and begin at 10:00 a.m. at 1001 Preston Street, Suite 934, Houston, Texas 77002. However, if you wish to speak, you must complete the online appearance request form found at:


It is now very typical for Commissioners Court to go beyond 6 hours.

Those who do not state an agenda item when they sign up are usually forced to wait until the end of the session. However, you can insert the agenda item in the “Subject Matter” box when you sign up. This should increase the probability of you speaking earlier. 

Agenda item 19.e.1.b Mobility Funding includes this topic   You can also put any additional description that you want in the subject description box.

Here is the link for a copy of the agenda: https://agenda.harriscountytx.gov

If you are unable to speak in person, contact Judge Hidalgo to express your concern. Make sure you read this four part series on equity first.

  •  Email: Judge.hidalgo@cjo.hctx.net
  • Phone: 713-274-7000
  • U. S. Mail:     
    The Honorable Judge Lina Hidalgo
    1001 Preston, Suite 911
    Houston, TX 77002

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/7/2019

677 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Woodridge Problems Still Piling Up for Porter Resident Chris Yates

Photo looking west toward Yates property just out of frame on right. Developer continues to build site up relative to neighbors – before installing drainage. This has created problems for Chris Yates and his neighbors in Porter.

Some more bad news surfaced today for the people whose drainage has been affected by Woodridge Village construction activity. Rebel Contractors has built up the level of Woodridge before installing drainage between Woodridge and neighbors. As a result, water has ponded in Porter yards for months and damaged their property. Then, to add insult to injury, about a week after finally erecting a long-awaited silt fence, Rebel Contractors covered it with dirt.

Woodridge: The Yates Family Curse

Chris Yates, who lives at 25395 Needham Road in Porter, sent me these pictures today. They show how construction activity has affected his property. First up: two BEFORE shots showing his happy family in front of the Woodridge site.

Yates’ daughter Amber in back yard before clearcutting began. Looking east. A small ditch ran through the tree line which forms the property line between Yates and Woodridge. Note the telephone lines at the top of the picture for reference in subsequent photos.
Yates with family in happier times. This was taken after construction began but before water started piling up. Note piles of dirt being stacked up on Woodridge property in background.
After clearcutting and grading of the Woodridge property in the background, water started collecting in Yates’ yard. This rain fell in March and remained there until Friday, May 31, when Yates pumped it out.

Contractor Should Have Maintained Positive Drainage at All Times

Page 6/Point 12 of the Woodridge Village Detention Plan states that, “Contractor shall maintain positive drainage from construction site at all times. Any damage to existing ditch system as the result of the contractor’s activities shall be repaired to existing or better conditions.” Oops! Neighbors up and down the western border of Woodridge have experienced stagnant water. Some have even experienced flooding.

Almost 4 Feet of Standing Water Before Any Drains Away

The Yates back yard on May 7. Their four-foot fence is barely visible in these two shots taken as water built up. It could not drain away according to Yates until the stormwater crested at a high point to the south between his home and Sherwood Trails..
This recent shot shows how the standing water killed Yates’ grass. Silty runoff ponded for two months.
Today, Yates pumped the water out to his street drain. It took him eight hours, pumping at 3,700 gallons per hour. While this kind of damage does not compare to the loss of a home, I’m sharing this story because it seems to illustrate the contractor’s disregard for the problems it causes neighbors.
Yates raises several animals on his property but has had to keep them caged for months because of the standing water.
Detention plans show that developer knew runoff was moving west to east toward development.
Page 12 of the Water, Sanigtary Sewer and Drainage Facilities & Paving Appurtenances Plan shows that developer was expecting to compensate for 10-aces of offside drainage from the Yates neighborhood, but didn’t start installing the storm drains for months, until well after three heavy May rains.
Looking north from Yates back yard along western boundary of Woodridge. Note the standing water between development and neighbors. The Woodridge side of the property (right) was elevated approximately 3 feet before drainage was installed. Photo taken 5/31/2019.
Plans show that this drain should eventually handle water that collects between Yates’ property and Woodridge. Question: Why wasn’t this installed before the Woodridge property was elevated? Said Yates who has years of construction experience, “Drainage is put in by elevation so this could have been put in before building up.” Photo taken 5/31/2019.

More Out-of-Sequence Construction?

Yates, whose father owned a clearing/grading business, worked in the family business when younger and said that on a site like this, they typically installed drainage first thing. The reason: ponding water slows down construction. “Even though it takes time, it saves time,” said Yates. “You can’t work when the site is wet. Construction on this site seems to be out of sequence.”

Yates also said that he had talked to the developer and learned they were six months behind schedule. One can only wonder whether the delayed installation of drainage had anything to do with the construction delays.

This sequencing complaint echoed the concerns of Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest residents. They flooded, in part, because the developer clear cut the entire 268 acres before installing critical detention ponds.

The Silt Fence Saga: Part 2

This and detention ponds were not the only out-of-sequence construction that neighbors have suffered through. Silt fences should have been installed before clear cutting started. Instead, they were put up almost a year later.

Additionally, the developer finally installed silt fences last week. The developer was supposed to install them before clearcutting began. For months, residents complained about sand, silt and clay pouring out of the construction site into streets and storm drains. Then about a week or so ago, after a complaint to the TCEQ triggered an investigation, silt fences finally appeared. Now they are buried under dirt again.

1-2 Week old silt fence … buried under silt. Said Yates, “What’s the point of silt fences if you are piling dirt on top of them an on the other side of them?” Photo taken 5/31/2019.

Chris Yates must feel at this point as though he’s Rodney Dangerfield. “Can’t get no respect.” Let’s hope he and the hundreds of other families affected by Woodridge construction find some before this is all over.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/1/2019 with images courtesy of Chris and Tammy Yates of Porter

641 Days since Hurricane Harvey

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

Gretchen Dunlap-Smith’s Flood Experience: “You Sunk Us”

To date, most of the press coverage about the May 7th flood has focused on Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest to the south of the new Woodridge Village development. However, the flood also affected many homes in Porter to the west of it. This is an interview with Gretchen Dunlap-Smith in Porter whose home was built in 1994. It flooded for the first time – after Woodridge Village started clearcutting and grading the land next to her, and wetlands disappeared.

USGS National Wetlands Inventory shows that government classified much of the northern section of Woodridge as wetlands (dark green overlays). Porter borders Woodridge Village to the west. Smith home located in white circle.

“This Area Never Flooded”

Rehak: Has this area ever flooded before?

Dunlap-Smith: This area never flooded.

Rehak: How far back does “never” go?

Dunlap-Smith: I grew up in the Kingwood area. My parents moved here in late 1976. We had 2.5 acres off of Hueni. My brother built this house in ‘94. So I’ve known this home since its inception. I saw it being built. One house at the end of the block did get water in it, but none of the other houses ever flooded. Ever!

Rehak: What do you think caused the flooding on May 7th?

Dunlap-Smith: (Pointing to bulldozers in the distance) The construction down there. That’s the only thing that’s changed. During Harvey, there was never any fear, threat, or worry in my mind that “I’m going to have water in my home.” Ever! During Harvey, during the Tax Day flood and all the stuff before that…never any concern. This (pointing to the construction again) changed the game.

We used to ride four wheelers on that property so I know there used to be a huge detention ditch and a huge pond. There used to be a natural creek down off of the end that went up to the wood line. From what I’ve been seeing and what I’ve been told, they backfilled all that in. The wetlands disappeared.

Note dirt pushed in ditch along western edge of Woodridge Village. Homes from the north end of this development in Porter all the way down to Mace and Joseph streets flooded, including Dunlap-Smith’s home on Flower Ridge.

Ditches No Longer Drain

Dunlap-Smith: Even now, the ditches don’t drain. Our ditches drained before. They never had standing water in them. You look at the ditches now and you will see green algae and moss growing in them. We never had that before. We could mow our ditches. They were dry, because the water drained. And now it doesn’t do that. 

Rehak: Where did the water go before? 

Dunlap-Smith: It went to the end of the road and flowed out.

Rehak: And now it’s getting to the end of the road and stopping?

Where drainage from Flower Ridge in Porter joins the new Woodridge Village in Porter.
Residents say water now stands so long in altered ditches that it grows algae.

Dunlap-Smith: Right. Now it’s backing up and flooding the street.

Rehak: Were you blocked in on May 7th?

Dunlap-Smith: We got out Tuesday night when the rain receded a little bit…for like 3 hours. The water went down enough to where I felt comfortable going through it with our Nissan Altima.

Ditches Became Invisible in Flood

Rehak: These ditches are kind of…deep.  If you didn’t know they were there…!!!

Dunlap-Smith: Yeah! You could really do some damage. Or worse, drown yourself in your car.

Photo by Gretchen Dunlap-Smith from May 7 of Flower Ridge in in Porter.

Rehak: How many homes in your subdivision were affected?

Dunlap-Smith: I don’t have a count. But I know that several homes flooded on our street and other streets in the subdivision.

Rehak: How high did the water get?

Dunlap-Smith: A couple inches in our house. Deeper in others.

Rehak: How much did you lose?

Saved by the Peaches!

Dunlap-Smith: Carpet. I was able to get some furniture up onto soup cans and big jars of peaches.

I put most of our furniture up on stuff like that. Hopefully, I may be able to salvage a couple rooms of carpet. Most of my house was tiled by my brother and sister. So the only rooms that had carpet were my living room and my three bedrooms.

Swamped utility room after the flood. Photo. by Gretchen Dunlap-Smith.

Rehak: Is there any concern that the water got under the tile?

Dunlap-Smith: I talked to a couple people about that. I have two dehumidifiers that have been going non-stop since the day after the flood. Those haven’t quit. I’m dumping them constantly. 

Cleaning Up the House Without Flood Insurance

Rehak: How long did it take the water to recede? When you came back the next day was it out?

Dunlap-Smith: It was out of the streets.

Rehak: How about the house?

Dunlap-Smith: No. The house…I had to pull every bit of carpet out. It had not receded.

Rehak: Did you have to squeegee it out?

Dunlap-Smith: That carpet was a soaking wet mess! You see that shop vac behind you? That’s a wet/dry shop vac.

Gretchen Dunlap-Smith tries to save her carpet by drying it on the bed of her truck.

You know, this isn’t a flood zone. When we bought the home, we weren’t required to have flood insurance. We called our agent after the flood and he said we weren’t covered, but we could get coverage for four or five hundred dollars per year. But it wouldn’t activate for 30 days.  

“You Sunk Us”

Dunlap-Smith: My neighbor told me that they were down there digging a ditch line, trying to open up the drainage again from the damage they had done. But you’ve already damaged natural drainage. You changed and affected how the flow goes. So I don’t care what you do now. You sunk us

Rehak: Their plan shows a huge detention pond up in the northwestern corner of this land that they clearcut. And then there’s a linear ditch running inside their property all the way down to the bottom.

Where N1 detention pond and drainage ditch should have been before flood. Excavation still had not started weeks after flood. This area used to be wetlands before the developer “improved” the drainage.

Dunlap-Smith: Right. But that ditch is not there. And if you look down Ivy Ridge, every home has trash in front because every one of them flooded.

Trash pile at end of Ivy Ridge. Looking east toward new development where drainage used to go.

“They Will Never Build on that Property”

The gentleman behind us, when he bought his house, told us there was an easement on that property. He was told they would never build on that property and not to worry. And here they are (pointing to construction).

Rehak: I’ve heard that same story from a dozen different people!

Dunlap-Smith: You get told something and you take it as gospel truth. And you run with it. You don’t check. You don’t research it. You just believe it because they’ve been honest up until now. Which is unfortunate.

Rehak: Do you have any idea what the financial loss is so far?

Counting Her Blessings, Minus the PTSD

Dunlap-Smith: Not really. Honestly, I counted my blessings. It could have been a lot worse. I saw what those people in Elm Grove were hit with. And my husband lost everything in the ’94 flood, including his whole family home. He lived right behind where Reeves furniture used to be on 59. It’s an antique store now. He lived on Treasure Lane. In ’89 there was a flood. They lost everything. But then the one in ’94 really did them in.

As far as the financial? I’m grateful. I know it could have been worse. But I know there’s been a huge emotional cost. It triggered PTSD in my husband.

Rehak: How?

Praying as the Water Rose

Dunlap-Smith: My husband is 6’4”. Not a little guy. He dwarfs me. Works for the Harris County Sherriff’s office. Takes down inmates every day. He’s not a timid guy.

When water was coming in the house, he sat down with his head in his hands and had tears. And I’ve never seen him cry.

We both were under stress. Water’s coming in our house. I have our dogs in a kennel. And I realized then…oh my gosh. The dogs are standing in water inside their kennels. So I moved them up. My husband and I were both getting a little snippy, which isn’t in our nature. There we were. Standing up to our ankles in water in the middle of our living room. He grabbed my hand and I grabbed his, and it’s like, “OK, right here. Right now. We’re praying. Stop. We have to see this for what it is not. It’s not as bad as it could be. And now he’s seeing that. 

That Sour Smell

Rehak: Are you going to have to pull out wallboard and electrical?

Dunlap-Smith: I don’t think so. That’s why I said, “I’m counting my blessings.”

Rehak: Floorboards?

Dunlap-Smith: (sighs heavily). Probably. After the first three or four days, I could smell the sour. There was a heavy sour smell. Not so much mildew, but sour.

May 15th was the deadline to dispute our taxes and ours went up like $10,000. So I’m disputing them. I fired off a letter. (She begins reciting complaints in the letter.) “Are we going to be in a flood plain now?” “Are we going to require flood insurance?” We’re not a high-income neighborhood. We don’t have money to throw at that stuff.

Rehak: What kind of assistance have you gotten from Montgomery County so far?

Dunlap-Smith: Nothing. (Pause) Absolutely nothing.

Too Poor to Repair, Too Proud to Ask for Help

Rehak: What would you like to get?

Dunlap-Smith: I would like to get those sticky floor tiles at cost or at a highly discounted rate. I don’t know. I would like to get a dehumidifier because they’re not doing squat about this or taking accountability. My husband and I don’t have credit cards that we can buy things with.

We bought two dehumidifiers out of our pocket. That was nearly 500 dollars. You’re living paycheck to paycheck and you want to fix your house back. My Aunt told me to call Red Cross. But I’m not going to take money out of somebody’s hands that I can see needs it more than I do.  I’m not going to do that.

Wants Developer to Restore Drainage

Rehak: Let me rephrase the question. In regard to your development, what would you like to see Montgomery County and the developer do?

Dunlap-Smith: For starters, come in and dig out the ditches. Maybe lower the streets to create more capacity for the water before it gets into our homes.

Rehak: And in regard to that new development going in over there?

Dunlap-Smith: I would love to see the County force the developer to create a true, correct drainage ditch.

Rehak: Do you think the county is even aware that you flooded?

Dunlap-Smith: No. They sent out a message on Twitter saying, “Contact us if you had any flooding.” I don’t think they have any clue. 

We had water backing up and leaking from our toilet. Our tub was filling up with this noxious looking water and a septic smell. It was brown. 

No, I don’t think the county knows that it happened in a place that it’s never happened before. The developer says they aren’t the culprit. But they changed the drainage. And they’ve gone too far to turn back.

Rehak: You can’t put back nature the way it was.

Dunlap-Smith: Agreed. I wish the county could force them to create drainage. This flooding will happen again if things stay as they are.

Reluctant to Water Plants

Rehak: How do you feel about your future here?

Note: As with other flood victims I have interviewed, curiously, Ms. Dunlap-Smith thinks in terms of tomorrow, not next year.

Dunlap-Smith: We have a little joke here. Every time I water my plants, it rains. For some people it’s washing their cars. But I told my husband this morning that, “I’m afraid to water my plants.” So … if that tells you anything.  (Laughing) I’d rather let the plants die.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/31/2019

640 Days since Hurricane Harvey