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Deb Lea    0

I'm a 2nd generation of born Houstonians. In a time line beginning 1935, I have studied when, where, and why Houston has 

flood water damage.

In 1935, Buffalo Bayou breeched it's banks, resulting in downtown being cut thru by raging water until it reached the ship channel. 

In 1941, reservoirs were plowed north of the city where Buffalo Bayou began. They were plowed in Katy, Texas. At that time, Katy was ranch land. I had a great uncle who owned a large portion of ranch land and I actually was able to pull up documents regarding purchase of easements on at least 2 occasions.

The Reservoirs eventually had neighborhoods built around them.

Ranch land soaked in rain water like a sponge. I10 East was cut thru, parallel to "Old Katy Road".

As the mid 80's approached , Ranch land began to sell and development of said began to thrive. The result is concrete covering more and more of the sponge that land offered.

Time marching, Beltway 8, Toll Roads covered vast areas of concrete,and I-10 became 3 to 4 times wider.

As though a magic wand was waved, a multitude of neighborhoods cropped up as far as the eye can see. Katy ISD built more schools, and an Athletic field rivaled to the size of Rice University's Stadium. So much concrete, which does not soak water in. 

A bigger stadium was planned, and    The home of baseball to the Skeeters needed stadium seating, and a sizable parking lot.

The conclusion is that there is no where the water can go, except toward reservoirs, creeks , and bayous( which , befor all the concrete, could handle what the ground wasn't soaking in.

The Katy situation is occurring inTomball, Pearland, Friendswood, Clear Lake. Is this not a simple issue to understand? 

The land is continuing to develope all around the city. Take a drive around Beltway 8. Green is disappearing as white concrete is taking over. 

Bellaire, West University and Meyerland flood routinely now. 

 In the mid 80's ,610 was a nice 4 lane overpass thru Bellaire, it was quiet at night, Teas Nursery was about 2 blocks wide and 2 blocks long ... land, trees and plants, it was beautiful Himes were 900 to 1500 square feet, and ranch style homes sat on generously sized (150' and  200' x 100' up to 150') lots. Tea's was bulldozed to create 4 blocks of concrete with 3000 to 5000 square foot homes. Tropical Storm Allison should have been a warning.

I am not a rocket scientist, but does the fact that we are literally creating a situation of epic disaster seem to be next? 

Harvey will become one of many "natural" disasters. The natural portion is not as nearly at cause as is OVER DEVELOPED LAND. 

Look around, isn't enough enough?

Can we began setting up historical districts to protect beautiful living space? Can empty buildings be sold, updated and retain thier character as they serve home to new commerce? 

I am interested to discover if anyone has noticed this issue or 

thought of it?

 

 

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plumber2    196

I foresee the end of slab on grade housing in Houston soon. New homes (as well as commercial buildings) will need to be elevated (even in non flood areas) to allow water to flow in and around them to alleviate the type of flooding we are seeing these days. Flooding will continue to happen with greater intensity for all of the reasons that you have just stated above.

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intencity77    167

Apologies in advance for being all grim but this city is on borrowed time IMO. I’m a 3rd gen, native Houstonian as well so I’m quite familiar with the prevailing city/state mentality and the development growth patterns which have heavily attributed to the widespread flooding that so often now occurs. This whole region (pre-Houston) was a natural “sponge” as you say, that we have slowly solidified.  The “Katy situation” you speak of has been copied all over the metro area and only expanding further outward. I don’t see that pattern changing much as the mentality here is to build, build, build without caring for future consequences. Radical changes in weather related disasters will only call for more costly, radical solutions and I honestly just don’t see enough urgency or momentum happening here until it’s too late. Besides, it’s going to take a whole lot more than a third reservoir to help with future storm flooding. 

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IronTiger    805

I agree that the main reason for flooding is too much development and not enough places for water to go. While road rebuilds can handle water better than the old 1970s infrastructure can, there should have been (years ago) ordinances to put in retention ponds for development. Even the H-E-B in Kingwood decided to get rid of the lake that the old apartments surrounded it, and I heard the flooding was more severe than the Randalls across the street, possibly because of that fact. There also seems to be a lack of oversight in developed subdivisions. Who signed off on that subdivision that would flood if the reservoir got too high? The Inner Loop isn't off the hook either with some intense densification without much thought as to lack of green space and where rain can go.

 

I've said in the other thread that retention ponds can go in defunct retail areas in the Inner Loop.

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Ross    699
1 hour ago, IronTiger said:

I agree that the main reason for flooding is too much development and not enough places for water to go. While road rebuilds can handle water better than the old 1970s infrastructure can, there should have been (years ago) ordinances to put in retention ponds for development. Even the H-E-B in Kingwood decided to get rid of the lake that the old apartments surrounded it, and I heard the flooding was more severe than the Randalls across the street, possibly because of that fact. There also seems to be a lack of oversight in developed subdivisions. Who signed off on that subdivision that would flood if the reservoir got too high? The Inner Loop isn't off the hook either with some intense densification without much thought as to lack of green space and where rain can go.

 

I've said in the other thread that retention ponds can go in defunct retail areas in the Inner Loop.

No one really signed off. The Feds and others decided it was too expensive to expand the footprint of the reservoir pools by buying additional land, and developers saw a great opportunity to build more houses in a popular area., and FEMA, for some reason, drew the flood maps in such a way that property with an elevation below the top of the spillways of the dams was put in the 500 year flood plain, which meant flood insurance wasn't required. Homeowners failed to do their due diligence and think "gee, if I look South from this house, I can see I am lower than the dam. Maybe I should look elsewhere or get flood insurance".

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H-Town Man    2,298
On ‎1‎/‎7‎/‎2018 at 8:40 AM, Ross said:

No one really signed off. The Feds and others decided it was too expensive to expand the footprint of the reservoir pools by buying additional land, and developers saw a great opportunity to build more houses in a popular area., and FEMA, for some reason, drew the flood maps in such a way that property with an elevation below the top of the spillways of the dams was put in the 500 year flood plain, which meant flood insurance wasn't required. Homeowners failed to do their due diligence and think "gee, if I look South from this house, I can see I am lower than the dam. Maybe I should look elsewhere or get flood insurance".

 

They couldn't look south and see the dam. The dam was 3.5 miles south through forest. Lots of people with jobs transferring to Houston buy houses sight unseen and it doesn't occur to them that the house might be in a reservoir, since they are probably from a city that wouldn't build houses in reservoirs.

 

To Deb's comment, the problem with not letting any more development happen is then the city becomes unaffordable due to constrained supply.

 

To plumber2's comment, if we end slab-on-grade housing, we are going to look really bad. Houses built on stilts are sort of like houses with burglar bars. The burglar bars might make the house safer, but they give such a bad perception of crime that the house value plummets. If Houston becomes a city of houses on stilts, we are dead in the water.

 

 

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GusF    1

The area west of Houston was never a "sponge".  In its natural state, it would absorb 4-5" of rainfall before it became saturated. But land developers did not destroy the prairie - farmers did.  They graded the land and put in drainage channels.  Much of the area was rice farms, which held a lot of water, but these have been slowly converted to row corps and/or ranch lands over the years.  There is little native prairie remaining, even in the undeveloped areas.  Besides paving, agriculture is one of the worse things you can do to soil as it pertains to its permeability.  Today, the soils can only handle 3-4" of rainfall IF they are dry at the beginning of the event.  

 

Houston was built in an area that naturally floods.  There are areas that we should have never built.  Starting with the agriculture and then the massive development, we have compounded it.  Yes, new concrete limits the ability of the land to absorb runoff, but new development must put this incremental increase into detention ponds.  So the net impact should be null.  We have had flooding over the years.  You can pull up annual peak flowrate data at USGS gages online, and the trend in flowrates is not rising.  

 

What has happened is that we have had some crazy rainfalls in the past few years.  Add to that that we went about 15 years without a major flood, and that leaves us feeling like it has got much worse in the past few years.  But there have been major floods in 1979, 1983, 1989 (twice), 1993, 1994, 1998 (twice), and 2001.  The rainfall in 1929 and 1935 were way less than Harvey, and severely flooded downtown and closed the ship channel for a year. 

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IronTiger    805
On 1/15/2018 at 6:54 PM, GusF said:

 The rainfall in 1929 and 1935 were way less than Harvey, and severely flooded downtown and closed the ship channel for a year. 

Because of a lack of engineering. Have you noticed older roads that haven't been touched since at least the 1980s will flood even at even brief but intense rainfall events?

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Ross    699
1 hour ago, IronTiger said:

Because of a lack of engineering. Have you noticed older roads that haven't been touched since at least the 1980s will flood even at even brief but intense rainfall events?

 

They were designed that way, plus the storm sewers are now undersized.

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