Tag Archive for: Village Springs

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

Shady Maple the night of the May 7 2019 flood
Escape. In Elm Grove on Shady Maple the night of the May 7, 2019 flood.
High water rescue
Rustling Elms Bridge in Elm Grove underwater as school bus tries to cross it.
Water in Keith Stewart's home on Shady Maple after May 7th flood in 2019.
Water rising at night in Keith Stewart’s home on Shady Maple after May 7th flood in 2019.

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.

Taylor Gully maintenance
HCFCD working to remove sediment buildup in Taylor Gully near the Maple Bend Bridge in January of 2021. The work began upstream near Rustling Elms in July 2019.

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.

Crenshaw Earmarks

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.

Start of the new floodwater detention basin that could double the capacity on Woodridge Village.This pond should ultimately expand beyond the lone trees in the middle of the frame near the top. Photo taken 4/30/22.

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.

The excavation can also potentially provide interim stormwater storage while awaiting the design and construction of the final stormwater detention basin.

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.

Staring Down the Barrel of a 268-Acre Water Cannon

The land in Woodridge Village naturally slopes from north to south and west to east. That means it forms a funnel pointed at Taylor Gulley in the southeast portion of the development. During heavy rains, as we saw last May and September, that funnel turns into a water cannon aimed at Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest. These new aerial photos show where the water is aimed.

Looking toward southeast, you can see how all the land in Woodridge Village slopes toward the far corner. North Kingwood Forest is the group of houses you can see in front of the water tower. Elm Grove is behind those and also the far tree line right of those.

When the land above was wooded and populated only by forest and wetlands, water percolated through the area slowly. Now that the Perry Homes’ gang clearcut the entire 268 acres, water shoots through it like the barrel of a water cannon.

“What Happens If We Cross The Streams?”

LJA Engineers designed the drainage for this development so that virtually all water would converge in the kite-shaped detention pond below before flowing into Taylor Gulley.

Looking west from the southeastern corner of Woodridge Village. North Kingwood Forest is at the bottom of the frame and Elm Grove is tucked into the trees in the upper left and beyond. Virtually all water from the development flows to the pond in the center of this photo. Then it flows through the twin culverts into Taylor Gully on the left.

When the pond fills and water starts to back up, channel starts flowing through the backwards of the homes at the bottom of the photo above.

Looking southwest. Water flows from top to bottom and right to left. Water from Taylor Gulley, the channel that forms a V above, must either squeak through a 3 foot pipe at the end of the concrete section on the left, or make a double U-turn into the detention pond and then back into the gulley on the left. That’s like forcing traffic make a U turn in the center of a busy intersection.

It reminds me of that immortal scene from the 1984 movie Ghostbusters. What happens when you cross the streams, Egon?

Egon: Don’t cross the streams.
Peter: Why?
Egon: It would be bad.
Peter: I’m fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean “bad”?
Egon: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Raymond: Total protonic reversal.
Peter: That’s bad. Okay. Alright, important safety tip, thanks Egon.

Obviously, the LJA Engineers who designed this drainage either didn’t see the movie or didn’t take it seriously.

Dumping Overflow into Surrounding Streets and Homes

In the photo below, you can see where the water goes when the streams cross during heavy rains. The pond and the stream (Taylor Gulley) leading to it become water cannons when they overflow. Water shoots into the homes in North Kingwood Forest (right). It also shoots down the streets of Elm Grove (bottom left).

Looking north up Village Springs Drive toward Woodridge Village. Virtually all water from the development converges in the kite-shaped detention pond. During floods, overflows shoots down Village Springs or into North Kingwood Forest (right).

Below are links to two videos that show water overflowing from the detention pond into Village Springs Drive and the homes there.

The first is from May 7th by Edy Cogdill.

The second is from September 19th by Alyssa Harris.

Of course, part of the problem with crossing these streams is that Perry Homes still has only installed 23% of the detention. There’s just no way that 23% can do the job of 100%. The rest of that water has to go somewhere else. Like living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/7/2020 with thanks to Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Alyssa Harris and Edy Cogdill

921 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 170 since Imelda

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 Still Not Finished with Detention Pond After 90 Days

On October 17th, a lawyer for Perry Homes’ subsidiaries and contractors promised the City of Houston that it would complete the Woodridge Village S2 detention pond in 30-45 days. Ninety days later, they still had not finished.

Perry Homes Far from Complete

Despite the fact that Perry had substantially completed S2 before Imelda, it has now taken the company 2X-3X more time than they said it would – with no end in sight.

I took all the ground-level photos below on January 25, 2020.

Looking north toward the southern edge of S2. Perry is elevating the lip of the pond which is now as high as this truck.
Looking NW. The elevated lip tapers down as you move west of Village Springs. This should effectively shift the locus of the next flood.
View looking west at construction work on southern lip of pond. Backslope swales were destroyed. Grass is gone.
Because of lack of grass, increased slope, and lack of compaction, knee-high mud is piling up against silt fence.
Edythe Cogdill, owner of the home in the background, is near tears over the lack of progress in Woodridge Village, out of frame to the right.
Every home on Cogdill’s block flooded twice. This was the scene today. Six of eight homes on the block have been sold or are up for sale.
S2 Pond still under construction. Photo taken 1.20.2020.

Perry Drives Families from Their Homes

I visited three Elm Grove families today. All have “snapped.” They have that 1000-yard stare.

  • One man kept shouting over and over again, “What are we to do?”
  • One woman broke down crying.
  • Another family is getting ready to walk away from their home.

They are not alone.

  • On one block I saw 25 homes for sale.
  • At the end of Village Springs, six of eight owners had put their homes up for sale.
  • On Shady Gardens Drive, a resident told me 22 neighbors had moved out.

This neighborhood has already been destroyed by Perry Homes’ broken promises. Fear paralyzes the few families remaining. Fear every time it rains. Fear for their safety. Fear of financial ruin. Fear of renovating their homes only to be flooded a third time.

Perry Homes’ Actions Mock City of Houston Leaders

Perry Homes’s inexplicable and inexcusable delays mock the City of Houston, the Mayor, the Mayor Pro Tem and City Attorney. Their actions say with impunity, “We have nothing to fear from you. We are more powerful.”

The BBB has found that Perry Homes treats its customers with the same disdain.

Perhaps the City should start slow-walking Perry Homes’ permit applications until they live up to their promises.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/25/2020

879 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 128 since Imelda

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.

Cogdill Video Shows Overland Sheet Flow From Clear-Cut Area Pouring into Elm Grove; HCFCD Issues Report on Flood

Edy and Ricky Cogdill live across the street from Abel Vera on Village Springs Drive. Both the Veras and the Cogdills live at the end of the street. Their properties butts up against the new development on the other side of the Montgomery County line seen in the background of this video. Edy Cogdill shot the video on May 7, 2019. It shows what hydrologists call “overland sheet flow.”

A small part of the 262-acre development that drains toward Elm Grove. Sheet flow from this clear-cut area ran off into Elm Grove. On top of street flooding, it caused house flooding.

Edy Cogdill shot this video will standing on her front porch with an umbrella. As the floodwaters came out of the clear-cut area to their north, the water hit the Cogdill house and started moving sideways. Toward the end of this short video, Edy pans right. You can see the the flow coming out of the new development and rushing down Village Springs Drive past the dead-end barrier.

The water from the development added to street flooding in progress. As a result, homes flooded.

Video courtesy of Edy and Ricky Cogdill on Village Springs Drive in Elm Grove. Shot on May 7, 2019.

Harris County Flood Control Issues Report on Storm

Jeff Lindner of Harris County Flood Control issued a report this morning on last weeks two flash flooding events.

The report says: “130 structures were flooded in the Elm Groove Village subdivision in the northern portions of Kingwood on Tuesday evening. HCFCD staff investigated this area on Wednesday, May 8th and determined that the flooding was potentially caused by development upstream in Montgomery County that sent large volumes of sheetflow into the subdivision and Taylor Gully (G103-80-03.1). The isolated nature of the heavy rainfall on Tuesday afternoon prevented more widespread flooding impacts.”

Lindner also cautioned that the number of affected structures may change; the City of Houston is still verifying the number. Earlier media reports of 400 homes flooding may have overstated the problem.

2- to 50-Year Official Rainfall Rates

The Harris County Flood Control Report on the storm also states that on May 7: “Heavy rainfall rates developed due to slow storm motions over northeast Harris County including the Humble and Kingwood areas. 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. A 6-hr rainfall rate of 7.9 inches was recorded at the East Fork of the San Jacinto River and FM 1485. Rainfall rates between the 15-min and 6- hr time periods on Tuesday afternoon and evening averaged between a 2-yr and 50-yr frequency over the extreme northeast portions of Harris into southeast Montgomery Counties. This rainfall was relatively isolated in the far northeast portions of Harris County and the Kingwood area.” 

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/13/2019

622 Days since Hurricane Harvey