Tag Archive for: zura

Zura Drone Videos Reveal Romerica Had Flooding Problems on May 7 Also

Yet more drone footage by local resident and videographer Jim Zura of Zura Productions revealed that Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest weren’t the only areas with flooding problems on May 7, 2019. The low-lying Romerica land is in the floodway and floodplain of the San Jacinto West Fork. A large part of the property is also classified as wetlands.

Flood Follies

May continued the developers’ long standing tradition of flooding follies.

Both the TCEQ and US Fish & Wildlife Service complained about the flooding and wetlands when protesting Romerica’s permit application to build high rises in an old riverbed of the West Fork. Between February of 2018 and January of this year, the Romerica property flooded six times – once every other month. In April, Romerica requested an extension of the time allowed to respond to 727 protest letters. The Army Corps withdrew their application instead, but without prejudice. That means the developer may reapply at a future date.

Zura Videos Show Scope of Flooding Day After May 7

Zura filmed three short drone videos linked below. The first two from River Grove Park show the extent of Romerica’s flooding problems on May 7. The third shows street flooding on May 3 on much higher ground.

The first shows how deep the water was in River Grove’s popular boardwalk area. It also shows wetlands adjacent to Woodland Hills, near where Romerica wants to build a commercial and retail mall.

The second shows how much of the developer’s property was flooded after a four inch rain the night before.

The third video shows trucks trying to navigate down a residential street on much higher ground.

Romerica Reportedly Reapplying for Permit

Romerica has reportedly decided to reapply for a permit from the Army Corps. As they develop the required surveys and studies coming out of Round One, they have taken down many of the websites that previously caused them so many problems. For instance, they removed the site offering EB-5 visas to foreign investors through their American Vision program. However, I have screen captures of all the suspect websites.

Zura’s video underscores the folly of developing this property into anything other than a park. I hope Mr. Haddad and Mr. Covarrubias watch these videos closely.

The Producers Sequel called The Developers?

This is starting to feel like a remake of a Mel Brooks 1960s movie called The Producers. In the movie, a Broadway producer discovers that he can make a lot more money with a flop than a hit by overselling shares in the production, because no one will audit the books of a play presumed to have lost money. If I were developing the sequel, I would call it The Developers and base it on two foreign investors trying to recreate a suburban Atlantis for which they can also sell flood insurance backed by (you guessed it) the U.S. Government.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/11/2019

651 Days since Hurricane Harvey

More Video Near Site of Proposed New High-Rise Development

Jim Zura of Zura Productions filmed this video of rescue efforts on August 29th, 2017, during Harvey at the northern most (highest) end of the proposed new high-rise development in Kingwood.

He filmed the video at the intersection of Woodland Hills and Seven Oaks. For those not familiar with the neighborhood, it’s four blocks north of the Barrington entrance. The Barrington lies mostly in the 500-year floodplain (see FEMA map below). Zura says the people you see in the video are mostly residents of the Barrington being evacuated.

Proposed Development Area Already Vacated by Humble ISD

The site of the new development is on the left of this video and far lower than Barrington, which was built up with fill in the early Nineties. In fact, it contained Humble ISD’s first ag barn which flooded so frequently that the school district moved the ag facility to higher ground at Deer Ridge Park. Now the school district is moving the operation again – to even higher ground in Porter.

The proposed development would add fill to much of this low lying area and even fill in some wetlands. The developer would fill areas both north and south of the Barrington. Read details here and view the plans.

Zura video shot to the left of Plan View A, near northern portion of proposed development. 
The Barrington splits the development in half.

Relationship of Proposed Development to Flood Zones

Below, you can see the area of the proposed new development within this screen capture from FEMA’s flood hazard layer viewer. The Barrington lies within the bean shaped oval in the center. Brown areas represent the 500-year flood plain. Aqua areas represent 100-year flood plain. And cross-hatched areas represent the floodway of the river (main current during floods).

The blue box above the word Marina represents a “Letter of Map Revision (LOMR). The developer plans on building the marina and several high rises within that blue box. Such revisions are often granted when residents can prove that they have raised a foundation above the 100-year flood plain. The purpose: to lower flood insurance rates for people who would otherwise be IN the 100-year flood plain.

A History of Flooding

Most of the Barrington sits in the 500-year flood plain yet still flooded in 1994, Allison and Harvey. It nearly flooded in the Memorial Day weekend flood of 2016. See this other YouTube video by BYUCougarFan99. The videographer says it was shot in the southern part of Barrington. It appears to look east and south, toward Kingwood country club and the southern part of the proposed development.

Drone footage of 2016 Memorial Day Weekend Flood shot from the Barrington.

This article from the website Swamplot describes the development in detail with 3-D renderings. Note the heading: Livable Lake.

The Army Corps Wants Your Comments

The Army Corps’ public notice states that they are seeking comments on the proposed development. If they receive no comments before January 29, they will assume that residents have no objections. Comments and requests for additional information should reference USACE file number, SWG-2016-00384, and should be submitted to: 

  • Evaluation Branch, North Unit 
  • Regulatory Division, CESWG-RD-E 
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
  • P.O. Box 1229 
  • Galveston, Texas 77553-1229 
  • 409-766-3869 Phone 
  • 409-766-6301 Fax 
  • swg_public_notice@usace.army.mil 

The deadline is January 29, 2019.

Posted by Bob Rehak on January 1, 2019

490 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Drone Video Underscores Dangers of Development without Remediation

Yesterday, the area where a developer proposes a new high-rise development flooded for the fifth time this year. This underscores the need for remediation before any permitting.

It wasn’t an especially heavy rain last week. Kingwood received about 2.5 inches. Areas upstream averaged 3 to 4 inches. Yet the West Fork came out of its banks and flooded River Grove Park for the fifth time this year (February 26, March 28/29, July 4, December 7/8, December 27). The USGS Gage at US59 showed that the flood crested at about midnight. The crest reached almost 50 feet at US59.

The West Fork at US 59 crested at almost 50 feet from the most recent rains. In the days preceding, SJRA released 5-7,000 cfs from Lake Conroe.

Jim Zura of Zura Productions took his drone to River Grove during the last light before the overnight crest. The video shows that although the road was still useable, many of the park’s popular amenities were not. The playground, soccer fields, boat ramp and boardwalk all flooded.

Earlier this year, the US Army Corps of Engineers found that excessive sedimentation in the river contributed to excessive flooding. The frequency of these floods supports that conclusion. The Corps began dredging in late September to remove sediment, but has completed only about 20% of the project so far. Downstream blockages remain. And the biggest – at the mouth of the West Fork – is not even within the scope of the current dredging project.

The end of Zura’s video shows the soccer fields and adjoining property, including a small lake in the floodway. This flood gives us a glimpse of how a minor rain would affect the proposed high-rise development there.

Watch all the way to the end!

The frequency of these floods underscores the need to consider the implications of permitting such a major development – especially when officials know the engineering is based on obsolete data and flood maps that in no way reflect current realities.

Until remediation efforts are complete, officials should postpone consideration of the permit. Remediation efforts include:

  • Dredging the West Fork all the way from US59 to Lake Houston
  • Creating additional upstream detention
  • Adding flood gates to Lake Houston
  • Restoring the conveyance of local drainage ditches and streams.

Rainfalls of the magnitude that caused these five floods should happen about once every 2 years according to Harris County Flood Control. This year they happened five times: 10X greater than expected. A review of peak crest data since 1929 roughly confirms these expectations. In the 80 year since then, the river crested over 50 feet only 40 times.

A review of the same data shows that the river has crested over 57 feet 9 times in the last 80 years and six times since 1994.

I believe excessive sedimentation played a role in this frequency increase. Instead of flooding every other year like this, we’re flooding almost every other month. That’s significant enough to put the brakes on development in the floodway, at least until we understand the extent of the problems and can fix them.

These are my opinions on matters of public policy. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statutes of the Great State of Texas.

Posted by Bob Rehak on December 31, 2018

489 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Drone Footage of River Grove Park Shows Scope of Last Flood

Jim Zura, owner of Zura Productions, sent me three clips shot from his drones last Saturday at River Grove Park. They show just how wide the river got at this low point at the peak of the flood. They also show the impact of dredging on the massive side bar that blocked the drainage ditch which runs through the park.

At this point, dredging is only about 20% complete. So we have not yet seen the full effect, nor will we until the mouth bar issue is addressed

Flying into River Grove and looking down on parking lot.
Flying out over river to dredged area
Flying out over playing fields

My thanks to Jim Zura for letting me share his work with the community. This impressive footage enhances our understanding of the world around us.

Posted on December 12, 2018, by Bob Rehak with permission from Jim Zura, Zura Productions

470 Days since Hurricane Harvey