Skip to comments.A Fort Bend engineer's warning, 25 years old, comes true during Harvey
Posted on 01/21/2018 5:44:53 AM PST by Elderberry
Twenty-five years ago, Fort Bend County's assistant engineer emerged from a meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He had new information, and he was worried.
Charles Glen Crocker, then 38, had learned that the footprint for Barker Reservoir was bigger than the land owned by the government, placing future homeowners in the Cinco Ranch and Kelliwood subdivisions within what engineers called "flood pools." The reservoir, dry much of the time, could fill during a major rainstorm and spread into the homes of unsuspecting residents.
His resulting letter, written on July 6, 1992, was a warning to county officials: "...recent rainfall events and weather conditions have shown that many areas considered relatively safe from rising waters have been flooded."
The land in the reservoir was sinking, "subsidence" in engineering terms. Houses were being built at a level lower than the water level the dams were designed to hold. A long period of rain could mean trouble in the two massive planned communities.
Crocker alerted everyone he could think of: the county judge, county commissioners, the Fort Bend County Drainage District and the county's emergency management coordinator.
He wanted the county to look at the matter more closely. Instead, a special purpose district formed to benefit developers by paying for drainage improvements attacked Crocker. Its letter criticized him for writing the memo, questioned his credentials and said Crocker's assertion could hold back development in the county.
(Excerpt) Read more at houstonchronicle.com ...
There are times when massive class action lawsuits serve a positive purpose.
Whatever your evidence, the righteousness of your perspective and despite your expertise and qualifications, you will be ignored by people who hold real power if your insights do no correspond to the existing political narrative. Today you will not only be ignored but attempts will be made to silence and marginalize you.
Visiting in HOU lately, the rich got at least if not more soaked with Bear Creek, then the reservoir. Not used to seeing $500K uninhabitable homes, that’s usually for the po’ folks.
Well, we were indeed talking the intellectual ability of a STEM type vs your typical ...er...mentally challenged politician/judge.
You are absolutely right.
He got in the way of big, big money. Doesn’t matter how right you are in that case. You will be attacked and lose.
Government people need “skin in the game”.
Even in the best case scenario, currently, some government union fund is likely to shell out money if things go badly. This is true for school problems, police problems, and (I expect) flood problems. So who cares? It’s not really my money. It’s no big deal.
But it should directly impact the pension funds of the people in government. “Golly, I thought I would have a sweet retirement but after that flooding incident, I find that I have virtually no pension at all!”
If everyone in government is aware that their pension is at risk, then SOMEONE in government will insist that the engineer get a decent hearing when he says he has found a problem.
Having done drainage engineering for 45 years in the Houston area, what the article says is basically factual. However the context is that the Harvey Storm dumped 43 inches of rain during 4 days over 2,000 square miles (34 inches of rain in four days over 10,000 square miles)!
That was a 500-year frequency rainfall event over ALL of Harris County and Fort Bend County.
FEMA flood insurance is required in participating jurisdictions for property located in areas with elevations lower than the Base Flood Elevation which is a 100-year frequency storm event. In Harris County that is 12 inches of rain falling in 24 hours.
The moral to this story is that where ever you live just because your mortgage does not require flood insurance, that does not guarantee a catastrophic flood will never happen
No one listens to engineers.
I pointed out during Harvey how Houstonians build anywhere in these low lying flood areas and got blasted. Oh, well.
If it suits the preferred narrative they most certainly do.
Only if there is no alternative, based on my 40+ years of experience as an engineer.
There is nowhere on earth that you can live and be safe from natural disasters. What a silly article.
What could possibly go wrong? /rhetorical SMH
"Why did they build the dam so high?"
The trouble with engineers is that, in moments of stress they are apt to blurt out the truth.
You're right! My husband is an engineer and I don't listen to him.
“Instead, a special purpose district formed to benefit developers by paying for drainage improvements attacked Crocker. Its letter criticized him for writing the memo, questioned his credentials and said Crocker’s assertion could hold back development in the county.”
Of course they did. Houston and the surrounding counties are controlled lock stock and barrel head by developers and realtors. They can, will and do anything to keep the ball rolling for development.
Houston’s biggest problem is Houston.
When Cinco Ranch and Kelliwood were built I thought anyone would have to be totally nuts to build on land flat as a pool table in or even near a reservoir. The drainage slope is mere inches. Even if the land were above the flood pool it is so flat it will not drain.
Most of Fort Bend County all along the Brazos is the very same pool table flat land with much of it wholly dependent on levees for protection from the Brazos. Essentially all of Sugarland is former rice and sugarcane fields. Interesting note, sugarcane production waned in the early 1900s as the climate became cooler. Connected with this the Hogg Plantation once boasted a waterfront for steamboats since it was warmer and wetter then so the historians indicate.
Years ago they wanted to build a new airport for Houston out on Katy Prairie and the environmentalists threw a fit. Now Grand Parkway has been built and development moves to Bridgeland and the new FEDEX terminal etc. Another paved over area to fill the reservoirs. This time it will be Addicks that gets even worse. The new area near 249 will be OK so long as it is above the escarpment leading to the Galveston Bay Basin. That rise it at about Fairfield.
It could take decades or it could be next year that the next 100 year storm comes along but it will come and things the drainage problems will be worse.
Y’all enjoy the city now ya hear.
Monroe La. the “rich” section flooded every 4-5 years. Of course they got to remodel and refurbish from the ins payouts. If they were so inconvenienced they would have moved elsewhere.
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