Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Surviving Hurricane Harvey: Part Four - It Was The Reservoirs, Not the Storm That Flooded West Houston

Simply put, an area of west Houston was sacrificed in order to protect other subdivisions from even more dramatic flooding. These subdivisions, now flooded at devastating proportions, have no history of experiencing flooding. The Army Corps of Engineers released water from the Addicks and Barker Dams. This, we were told, was to allow room in the dams should more rain fall. Water in the reservoirs was released - controlled releases - to make room for future rain water. Buffalo Bayou needed relief, we were told. The result of this decision was unprecedented flooding in neighborhoods from near-in west Houston all the way to areas in Katy. To say this is tragic is not an exaggeration. 

Houston City Councilman Greg Travis, District G, has done an excellent job keeping residents informed of actions by the Corps of Engineers and the City of Houston. This explains what action was taken and the video link is a helpful way to understand how the water moved as it flooded the area.   



The storm of Hurricane Harvey didn't destroy us, it was the reservoirs after the storm that did that. Now, the mayor has approved the power to be cut off in homes and apartments that were flooded, on the heels of a mandatory evacuation order. This hampers the ability to allow some who wish to stay in their homes despite the water and protect their property. People who have dry homes are told their power will remain on but that isn't always the case. Councilman Travis, for example, said his home didn't flood but his power was cut. There is a number to call if this happens: 713-207-2222.

Some people from outside ask why Texans don't buy flood insurance. It is estimated that only 20% of those flooded out have flood insurance. In this case, it is because most of these homes are not on flood plains. The area has never flooded and homeowners weren't advised to buy flood insurance. My husband and I never bought flood insurance. We survived Tropical Storm Allison and Hurricane Ike without our home flooding.

I watched Mayor Sylvester Turner on some of the Sunday morning talk shows and he did a good job encouraging people to keep their plans - the City of Houston is open for business. He went on to say that "95% of the city is dry now." I understand what he was doing - it's his job to keep the city and its economy moving forward - but that is an exaggerated number. In my own case, my home remained dry and our power has stayed on. Our Internet and television was only out briefly - a matter of some 8 hours or so due to a truck crashing into a utility pole - so we are grateful beyond belief. But, the down side is that we are limited in our travel due to flooded streets all around us. Imagine an island surrounded by water - that is how we continue to live. The Corps of Engineers foresees reservoir releases for the next 10 days or so and flooded streets will remain while that continues. It's a waiting game. 

My former neighborhood still has large parts underwater. Remember when I wrote about moving to our current home last January? My husband was able to drive up to our former home this morning and spoke with the current owner. The house remained dry inside by the grace of about a 1/4 of an inch. That warmed my heart. We cling to the good stories because the bad ones are overwhelming. So many of my friends and acquaintances in 'my' part of town have lost homes and cars and much of their possessions. 

We will get through this. We are grateful. #HoustonStrong

Onward.





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