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 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