Mitigation Update: 3rd Anniversary of First Elm Grove Flood
Back in 2019, portions of Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest Villages flooded twice. The first time occurred on May 7th. According to Harris County Flood Control District’s (HCFCD) report on the storm, “A 30-min rate of 2.9 inches was recorded at US 59 and the West Fork of the San Jacinto River and a 1 hour rate of 4.0 inches.”
“380 structures were flooded in the Elm Grove Village subdivision and other nearby subdivisions in the northern portions of Kingwood.”
Investigation by HCFCD the following day revealed that “… the flooding was potentially caused by development upstream in Montgomery County that sent large volumes of sheetflow into the subdivisions and Taylor Gully.” This video shows the sheetflow pouring out Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village property into homes along Village Springs Drive.
Perry contractors had clearcut 267 acres without installing the required detention ponds when the rain hit.
In the three years that followed, I posted 242 reports about every aspect of that flood and a second one during Imelda. The second flood affected two to three times more homes in the same areas.
The floods triggered multiple lawsuits which Perry Homes, its subsidiaries and contractors finally settled late in 2021.
What It Looked Like
Catalog of Flood Mitigation Efforts
Ever since the Elm Grove floods, Harris County, HCFCD, the City of Houston, Congressman Dan Crenshaw’s team and others have worked diligently to reduce future flood risk.
On this Mother’s Day weekend, it may bring flooded families comfort to understand how far we have come. Much remains to do, but much has already been done, or at least started.
Major Maintenance on Taylor Gully
Even before the second flood, HCFCD undertook a major maintenance project on Taylor Gully to remove accumulated sediment and restore channel conveyance.
The project began in 2019. Work extended downstream to the natural portion of the channel. It finished in 2021.
Kingwood Area Drainage Analysis and Taylor Gully Study
In 2019-20, HCFCD, Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority (TIRZ 10), and City of Houston teamed up to conduct a drainage analysis for all streams in the Kingwood area. A recommendation to prioritize engineering of drainage improvements along Taylor Gully (including Woodridge) came out of that study.
The Flood Control District began preliminary engineering study on the Taylor Gully improvements in 2021. HCFCD anticipates presenting results during late summer or early fall this year.
Purchase of Woodridge Village By County and City
In early 2021, the Flood Control District and the City of Houston partnered to acquire the 267.35-acre Woodridge Village property for approximately $14 million.
They closed on the purchase of Woodridge Village in March 2021.
Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin lobbied the City to purchase about 70 acres of the property.
HCFCD will use the remaining 194.35 acres of the Woodridge site for stormwater detention. That will help reduce flood risk.
Congressman Dan Crenshaw secured an earmark for $1.6 million for engineering of flood mitigation improvements along Taylor Gully. The engineering should shrink the floodplain. That will effectively remove 387 structures from the floodplain and has the potential to remove another 62.
Crenshaw also has another earmark pending for $10 million to actually construct the improvements recommended by the study.
Local groups must spend earmarks during the fiscal year in which Congress approves them. So funding can’t get too far ahead of the engineering.
Taylor Gully Preliminary Engineering Study
The Taylor Gully study will look at Woodridge in conjunction with other potential Taylor Gully improvements. However, HCFCD must perform additional preliminary engineering to further evaluate specific alternatives for Woodridge and determine the best.
During each study, HCFCD will hold Community Engagement Meetings to present alternatives and gather feedback.
Excavation & Removal Contract
In January 2022, HCFCD began work on a Woodridge Excavation and Removal (E&R) project.
E&R projects provide a head start on the excavation process and risk reduction. They can start before the design of a stormwater detention basin. Contractors excavate a set amount of material within an agreed-upon timeframe and general area.
As of April 30, 2022, 36,421 cubic yards of material has already been removed from the site. See photo above taken that day. The project will remove as much as 500,000 cubic yards of soil and other material.
Woodridge will remain an active construction zone for up to three years.
Have a Happy Mother’s Day this weekend.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/6/2022
1711 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 1096 Days since May 7, 2019
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.