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What Eleven Inches of Rain Did Last Week in Houston, Texas

Updated on August 25, 2017
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Curbside debris after flooding in Houston
Curbside debris after flooding in Houston | Source

April Showers bring May Flowers

Most often they are welcomed for what they do to replenish the ground with needed water so that the Spring flowers and other plants can flourish.

It also helps to supply our sources of drinking water whether gleaned from underground or surface areas.

It was not long ago that Houston was actually running behind in our normal rainfall for the year and we needed more. In fact much of the State of Texas still needs rain and west of here numerous areas are suffering from drought conditions.

The topography of Houston is very flat and we are not very much above sea level. In addition to man made drainage systems, we have a number of bayous that run through various sections of this city and serve to catch excess rainwater. All that water eventually drains into Galveston Bay and then the Gulf of Mexico.

In the part of Bear Creek where my mother used to live.
In the part of Bear Creek where my mother used to live. | Source

Rain Event

Late last week we had a rain event which brought over eleven inches of rain crashing down from the sky in monumental proportions. It happened in a matter of a little over three hours. Many people were awakened during the night due to the thunderous noise.

The rain gutters could not handle the deluge and I was looking out of our back windows at 2:45am at the mess the pouring rain was making in my newly planted flowerbed. We keep our backyard lit with floodlights during the night, so it was easy to see the destruction that this flood from the skies was creating.

Little did I know that a mere three miles east of us, portions of our old subdivision were literally flooding. People were getting anywhere from soggy carpet conditions to two and three feet of water in their homes!

Location of much of this devastation...

Bear Creek Subdivision:
Houston, TX 77084, USA

get directions

Next door to my mother's old house. You can see the water line on the brick.
Next door to my mother's old house. You can see the water line on the brick. | Source

Bear Creek Subdivision

Had my mother still lived in her old home, she would have suffered the fate of having about a foot and a half of water in her home. The neighbors on either side of her and across the street had even more water in their homes!

My mother's home had never previously flooded.

Driving through the subdivision today we saw mounds of sheet rock, lumber and carpeting piled curbside. In addition were refrigerators, hot water heaters, sofas and chairs and possessions of every sort making mountains of trash in front of countless homes.

It was a sad sight indeed!

Parts of people's lives are next to every curb.
Parts of people's lives are next to every curb. | Source

We had some friends over for supper last night who happen to live one street over from where my mother used to live. All the sheet rock has been torn out of their home from the floor going up to about two feet. Dehumidifying fans are humming in all parts of the house and the white dust from the cut sheet rock is everywhere.

All their appliances no longer work. Much of their overstuffed furniture will need replacing. Water got in the car and that will need servicing.

Contractors trucks can be seen everywhere.

Our friend carried flood insurance and all we can hope is that most of the rest of the homeowners also took out flood insurance. Mind you.......this is NOT in a designated flood zone where that insurance is mandatory.

But we have learned in living here that literally any part of Houston can flood when we get torrential rains that disgorge that much water in a limited time frame.

Protect your home from flooding (While this video comes from the UK, many of the same principles apply.)

Tropical Storms and Hurricanes

A tropical storm named Allison flooded the Texas Medical Center several years ago where much damage was done. Basements flooded and equipment was destroyed costing millions of dollars to replace and/or repair. Many lost hours of research that could have potentially helped to save lives was also decimated by the flood waters.

Only people who have suffered the fate of what flood waters can do to a person's home and possessions can truly empathize with others suffering the same fate.

It happened to my parents when I was in my late teens. In the aftermath of Hurricane Beulah, my parents had about 2 1/2 feet of water in their home. They lost so much in the way of possessions. The worst part was losing irreplaceable family photos for us.

As long as lives are not lost, almost everything else can be replaced with time, money, effort, hard work and good insurance policies.

Back in the late 1960s my parents did not have flood their losses were not covered by insurance. They had to take out a second loan on the house to be able to bring it back to a livable condition. Resources were stretched to the limit for quite some time.

Sheetrock and carpeting being torn out of houses after other trash was picked up after the massive flood.
Sheetrock and carpeting being torn out of houses after other trash was picked up after the massive flood. | Source

What strikes me about disasters is that it always creates not only havoc for the people withstanding the mess and losses...but it creates work and income for others. On the one hand, people lose and on the other, people gain.

Just think of all the building materials that are going to have to be acquired and utilized by contractors hired to rebuild those homes. Furniture companies will suddenly get more business. All types of supplies will have to be purchased to replace lost items. Everything from cleaning supplies to clothing to bedding to groceries will need replacing. New appliances will be ordered and delivered.

Cars will be salvaged or replaced. Rental car agencies are swamped with local business right now! In fact it is hard to find a car to lease.

We were so fortunate to have escaped Nature's wrath this time. It would have been very hard for my 83 year old mother to have dealt with this disaster had she still been living in her old home...especially having just lost her son (my brother) a week earlier. I am happy for her that she did not have to endure this hardship, but sad for those who are now suffering.

This is a good lesson! We should take each and every day and be grateful for what we have. One never knows when it might be snatched away. That goes for not only possessions, but more importantly the pets and especially the people in our lives.

Life can be smooth sailing but at other times rough and stormy seas are encountered.

Eleven inches of rain in parts of Houston changed people's lives drastically and very quickly in the dark hours of the night.

Floodshield Door Flood Protection Barrier

2016 Update

Since first writing this post we have suffered more devastating floods in Houston. In fact just this year of 2016 we had the "Tax Day Flood" and the "Memorial Day Flood" where even more than 11 inches fell in many parts of our city!

We had 12 to 15 inches in our area in a matter of 4 to 5 hours! Major roads in and out of our particular locale were closed for weeks! That is because they go through the Addicks Reservoir which was built to retain flood waters keeping downtown Houston from flooding.

We had several friends of ours affected by the floods this year. Once again they are in the process of rebuilding their lives.

One friend is seriously considering getting some type of raft or other device which could enable her to escape should her area flood again. The rains came at night and by the time she discovered the problem she already had several feet of water in her home. Her car was ruined so that was no means for escape.

She had called 911 but they were too busy rescuing others. Crawl up in your attic was their advice if the water got too high. Believe it or not she was rescued by a friend who owned a jet ski. The water by that time was around 3 feet high in her home! Others on her street were rescued by people with boats.

Inflatable Boat

Some homes that had never previously flooded did so this year! Obviously we cannot control Mother Nature but some things can be changed.

Our bayous need to be widened in areas and better drainage plans need to be executed. All of this will take time and money. As our large metropolitan area keeps growing some thought needs to be given to not covering it all with concrete. We need more green spaces where water can be absorbed.

Hurricane Harvey Hitting Texas!

This hurricane is going to be hitting the Texas Gulf coast later today, August 25, 2017. The winds and tides have already picked up. It is predicted to be a category 3 hurricane by the time it hits land around Corpus Christi.

As if that was not bad enough, a front will keep it stalled for many days in our part of the state. It may even dip back into the Gulf.

Here in Houston it is predicted to be a major flooding event with over 20 inches of rain predicted over the course of several days.

Many homes that have previously flooded will probably flood again. Others that have never been flooded may be water soaked this time. Please keep everyone in your prayers!

Do you suffer from frequent flooding problems where you live?

See results

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      5 weeks ago

      Yes, reconstruction is a slow process. I remember when Super Storm Sandy hit it seemed to take a long time to get the damage repaired in Staten Island.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Robert,

      Hurricane Harvey hit our area just about a year ago and it was even worse than what you saw with these pictures. Thousands of homes were flooded and some in this area of Bear Creek are still being reconstructed. Some have been abandoned and sit vacant. 2 of our friends were able to sell their homes "as is" to investors and moved out of the neighborhood. One person, we know who stayed still does not have his kitchen counters installed...a year after the fact!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      5 weeks ago

      It seems the Texas coast is going through a rough spell. How is the cleanup going?

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Susie,

      What you wrote is so true. So sorry you had to experience flooding in Fargo, ND. Not fun!

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 

      2 years ago from Minnesota

      Flooding does so much damage to property. When it comes that fast there isn't much anyone can do but hang on for the ride, then roll up their sleeves and clean-up the mess. I survived the flood of 1997 in Fargo, ND.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      Yes...Houston has had more than its fair share of flooding this year! So many people affected including our friend who had her home flooded (again) from the time I first wrote this hub. It will be many months before her home will be rebuilt again and be habitable. She will be hoping to sell...but I wonder who will want to buy in that area with that history of flooding. My heart goes out to her and all the others in that situation.

      We are supposed to have a rainy week according to the forecast. We now actually need the rain with these sizzling temperatures.

      Thanks for the share. Stay cool and safe where you live.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      2 years ago from North Texas

      We had some flooding here in North Texas this past spring and I believe some people died when they drove their vehicle into it. The thing about Texas is that usually when it rains it doesn't mess around. If you're in it, you could easily be soaked and dripping in the blink of an eye.

      It gets really bad in the summer when the relentless sun bakes the ground for days and days, sometimes weeks and months, so that it becomes hard as a rock. Then comes a downpour and everything is fooding because the ground is too hard to soak any of it up and because it comes down so fast, not in buckets, but more like vats.

      I know Houston has suffered a lot of flooding this spring. I hope you were spared. Of course being on the coast where hurricanes come in every now and then makes it worse than just our usual pounding rains. Studying weather at university, I learned that the biggest threat in a hurricane is flooding. It affects more people than just the strong winds and can go inland a long way.

      We're to have 3 days of rain beginning Monday, but often by the time the appointed day arrives rain has been removed from the forecast.

      Sharing this interesting article.

      Hope you are in a cool place. Take care . . .

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Peg,

      I was still living at home when one of my parent's homes got about 3 feet of water in it due to after effects of Hurricane Beulah many years ago. So much was ruined including the house. Not fun! It seems you have had your share of disasters also. Hope you get that needed rainfall in the Dallas area to make up for the deficit.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      Here in Houston it has also been terrible for several years regarding drought and many trees were lost all around this city. Of course replanting has taken place but places like Memorial Park certainly have a different look these days.

      We have finally caught up to about normal rainfall for now and the reservoirs and lakes that supply drinking water to Houston are now filled.

      Hope you get the much needed rain in your area. This rain event featured here took place several years ago. Sounds like you had a bad time of it also with the one you related. Too bad it is feast or famine!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      With the Texas weather there's never a dull moment. This incredible amount of rain in such a short time is amazing and your photos tell the tale of the destruction to possessions and the lives of those affected. I've made it through a few natural disasters and thankfully, have lived to tell the tale.

      Our area here is still in Stage 3 Drought despite recent rainfall. Years ago, we had the 100 year floods that left the nearby lake way above its normal point. These days, it's way below normal.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      4 years ago from North Texas

      I remember how badly it flooded here where I live a few years ago -- before the awful drought we've gotten into since. My daughter's apartment flooded and her cats had to take refuge on top of tall bookcases. Some of the people who lived in the same apartment complex awoke to find their cars full of water up to the bottoms of the windows as well as their apartments flooded.

      Daughter stayed with me that afternoon and night because I couldn't get her home, so many of the streets were flooded. Good thing I didn't take her home too, I think. Her cats managed. It rained hard for nearly 2 full days that time.

      Right now we desperately need rain and more rain, but I know if we get too much at a time it will flood and fail to benefit all the trees and other plants that need it. We've hardly had any decent rain at all this year since last September. When it does really rain, perhaps 2-3 times these last many months, it only lasts for 20 minutes to an hour and then it's gone again for weeks. Mostly it sprinkles, mists, or drizzles, and even that is rare.

      Voting this article up and interesting. Another one I haven't seen before. Pinned to Awesome Hubpages and sharing.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello torrilynn,

      Yes, for sure, rain...especially if it is extended over a short period of time...can do a lot of damage as is shown in these pictures. Much depends upon the topography of the land, how much rain has happened in the near past, the type of soil which can either absorb so much moisture or not...etc. Thanks for your interest and comment.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi moonlake,

      Yes, it really is amazing the power of flood waters and what can happen in such a small amount of time. We carry flood insurance although we are also not in a designated flood plain...but since Houston is so flat...almost anyone could be effected if the storm and rain clouds linger over one spot for too long a time. Thanks for your comment + the share.

    • torrilynn profile image


      5 years ago

      PeggyW, wow I never knew that rain could do so much damage. very interesting and thorough hub. thanks. voted up.

    • moonlake profile image


      5 years ago from America

      We've had some bad rains here but it has been years. It's terrible what water can do. Interesting hub voted up and shared.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Don,

      We had hail many years ago in the same subdivision shown in these pictures (where we used to live) and it was not nearly the size of baseballs...closer to nickle and quarter sized. Most everyone got new roofs at that time also.

      I wonder if those "river rats" know of the door flood protection items (as shown in the 2nd video) that are available? They also have some that block off entire driveways, etc. that seem easy enough to install with a small amount of notice.

      The problem with the rainstorm in Houston that happened causing all of this came in the night and no one would have been able to predict that amount of water coming down in so short a time. It was not even related to a tropical storm!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Peggy,

      Heavy rains and flooding can have many problems, as you note. In Moline,IL there are a number of people who have homes on the shores of the Rock River which floods fairly often. Oddly they almost always clean up and stay. They call themselves river rats and refuse any other lifestyle.

      a few years ago Wisconsin Rapids had a hailstorm with hail the size of baseballs. Just about every house in town needed new roofs and siding..

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello doodlebugs,

      No...we are also parched. Wrote this hub in 2009 after Houston got 11 inches of rain in just a few hours. We still BADLY need rain and lots of it to catch up so that trees quit dying and the water level for drinking and otherwise is replenished. Let's hope for rain in Texas...just a decent amount at a time. :))

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Happyboomernurse,

      Actually we had both sold our homes and lived together in our current one when it happened about half a year before she died. So my mother did get to see all of the damage. My brother died just shortly before this flooding happened.

      I think that you are smart to have that flood insurance. We do the same although we do not live in a flood zone. The people in our former neighborhood also did not live in a flood zone!

      Yes, we still need rain badly...just not so many inches at one time. We have had a few days of intermittant rain in the last several weeks...but still so much is needed. Thanks for the good thoughts.

    • doodlebugs profile image


      6 years ago from Southwest

      Wow, I had no idea you had so much rain down there. We are still parched here in Austin.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      6 years ago from South Carolina

      Hi Peggy,

      Very sad hub. Am glad your Mom was spared seeing this but sad that both she and your brother are no longer alive. I can't imagine how she could have coped with a flood that came so soon after your brother's death.

      As you know, we previously lived in a flood zone and experienced several floods even though it was a "once in a hundred year zone." We now live in DE where the whole state is about sea level and when we moved to our home here I insisted that we still buy flood insurance as a tropical storm or hurricane could cause flooding. We were lucky that Hurricane Irene did no damage but as you say, one never knows.

      Sorry to hear that the drought conditions are causing some many problems. Hope you get some rain soon.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      This flooding happened in 2009. We have almost the opposite problem in 2011...a severe drought that is causing plants to die, foundations to crack and wildfires destroying everything in their path. Today we need rain badly...just not 11 inches in a few hours as happened when this hub was written.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello nur,

      You obviously have a big heart! Hopefully you and people you know will never have to withstand the effects of 11 inches of rain and the devastation it caused in Houston or anywhere else on this planet. Mother Nature sometimes smiles at us and at other times rages. It serves to remind us that we are but small and temporary residents in the grand design of life on earth.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Im a grade 9 student and i just cried reading this...............

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi billyaustindillon,

      At least we don't have to worry about water rationing like we do sometimes in the summer months. Also enjoying the lower water bills since we have been getting so much rain lately.

      Keeping sewers clean and unclogged should be everyone's concern. Also when open land keeps being "developed" meaning more concrete poured...the government entities that keep approving this need to take into consideration where all that excess rain water will go. We actually NEED some open land and areas to absorb excess water when it comes pouring down as it has a tendency to do at times in Houston.

    • billyaustindillon profile image


      8 years ago

      Been crazy wet again the past few weeks in Houston - it is Storm season I guess. Ike was something else right under the eye. Which brings me back to Rita that was bizarre how there was no rain for days as the outer bands passed. I digress. Great hub of what is always a sad time in some areas. The garden does love rain in Houston though.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi again Jennifer,

      People who might be envious have NO IDEA what it is like. Like you, I would not want to go through it again.

      The same thing happened to my parent's house in McAllen years ago when I was still living at home. Post Hurricane Beulah. The cause......clogged drains from people dumping grass clippings, etc. down sewage drains. Only 3 houses flooded but we had about 2 1/2 feet of water in it. And as you (sadly) know, water seeps up destroying additional things.

      They had to rebuild the home adding much more to the cost. No flood insurance...was never necessary where they had lived.

      We all lost irreplaceable things like photos, etc. That is almost the worst as furniture, etc. can be replaced.

      As you also pointed out, this puts things in clear perspective as to what is really important in life.

      When I see people putting leaves and grass clippings into what should be reserved for excess water drainage I cringe. They have NO IDEA the damage that they might be causing!!!

      My heart goes out to all of you suffering through this mess. Hopefully the government entities that have jurisdiction will DO SOMETHING before another flood happens!

      Yes, I also hope more people find this...the appropriate people who can do something about it.

      Thinking of you with great empathy.

    • profile image

      Jennifer Bayles 

      9 years ago

      Sorry I got so long-winded. LOL! Looks like several paragraphs got lost in cyber-space because I couldn't stop typing. Ah well, such is life on the internet.

      I guess the short-form is that any disaster continues even after the flood waters recede or the tornado disappears into the clouds or the flames are subdued. Reconstruction is almost worse than the event itself, and psychological issues can plague us for years. I know we aren't the only ones who cringe every time we hear a clap of thunder.

      Another gripe I have is criticism from people who say we should install our own drainage systems privately - as if we are the ones to blame for the flood losses. I do agree with that to some extent. My husband and I have improved the drainage swales, cut several inches off the bottoms of the side fences and installed sump pumps on the property. For many years now it has rarely helped because the storm drains quickly become overwhelmed. The water comes up from the street and in from the higher properties in the back. There is no place for the water to go.

      We've had people "advise" us to remove our interior doors and place them on sawhorses to raise household items. Sorry, but these people obviously don't understand what a flash flood is. There is simply no time to do much of anything than save important papers, pets and your own skins. It's not like preparing for a tropical storm or hurricane.

      It amazes me how many people are more than prepared to blame the victims. Initially I blew those people off because I had bigger fish to fry. In hindsight, I'd like to give several of them some black eyes.

      Almost worse are the folks who are actually envious. "Oooh! But you're going to have a brand new house when you're done!" I'd like to see what they'd say if they experienced a flood themselves. Yeah, our lives have been turned upside down and we're supposed to be HAPPY because we "get" to rebuild our homes. I'd rather have my outdated 1980 home than experience this kind of upheaval. Since we will likely flood again before our drainage problems are fixed, having a "new" home doesn't exactly give me a warm fuzzy. Do you think any of these same people would like to buy my newly-renovated house? Not!

      And thank YOU Peggy for starting this blog topic. I hope more people find it. Our flood was not as spectacular as Katrina or Allison, but the financial, physical and mental issues are exactly the same.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Dear Jennifer,

      As a former Bear Creek resident (we now only live about 3 miles west of there) you have given a comprehensive account of the aftermath of that flood and the politics of the situation.

      I am horrified to know what you and so many others are still having to endure.

      Hopefully those drainage issues will be resolved sooner rather than later!

      Thank you for this account and may God bless you and everyone that still lives in that area.

    • profile image

      Jennifer Bayles 

      9 years ago

      We who live in homes that flooded are also living in something of a state of suspended animation. My husband and I were lucky enough to be well-insured, but that doesn't exempt us from the mental and physical stress of rebuilding. A drive through Bear Creek may make one think that everything is back to normal; but it isn't. While the visible debris has mostly been hauled off, contractors' vehicles clog the streets Monday through Friday. There are plenty of on-site storage containers and even some travel trailers for those lucky enough to have them. Living in a construction zone isn't exactly a healthy experience.

      It's very odd to be a homeowner without a home. In the early aftermath, some residents gave up and walked their mortgages. Some paid for basic demolition and water mitigation and sold out cheap for whatever they could get. Some are making do with what is left. Those with flood insurance are wading through the painfully detailed paperwork and finally getting the money to begin rebuilding. Some were able to qualify for low-interest Small Business Administration loans that became available after we received a gubernatorial disaster declaration.

      The governor did not ask for a presidential decree which would have helped a great deal toward getting flooded neighborhoods repaired. Had so many residents not called in their damage estimates, the county would have done nothing. Many thanks go to Joyce Boudreaux at Harris County Office of Emergency Management. As I was passed from one bureacratic office to another (ain't my job lady) Joyce took the lead in setting up a call center to field resident calls and gave her name and phone number as a contact. Within a day of our flyers hitting the streets, Joyce was required to bring in extra staff to handle the call load. Joyce also went the extra mile to keep us informed as to the status of our quest for the disaster declaration and activities at Judge Emmett's office.

      Amidst the stress and headaches of any disaster, life goes on. Petty criminals scavenging empty homes kept the constables busy and parents tried to restore some kind of normalcy to their children's lives while trying to hold on to their jobs and rebuild their lives. The senseless traffic death of a very good neighbor only weeks after losing their home to the flood was one more blow to us all. This family's pain is beyond my comprehension. We've all learned that we can't put life on hold while we deal with death and disaster. Somehow, we muddle through day after day.

      There are so many lessons, good and bad, to be learned from a disaster. We've learned who are our true friends and who are merely acquaintances. In addition to family, biker friends and neighbors, our church family at Bear Creek United Methodist Church in particular rose to the challenge of helping many families remove flooded and contaminated furniture and carpet. You know you have a truly selfless friend in a person who is willing to get his hands dirty and risk e-coli sickness to engage in such a filthy job.

      All in all, the blessings have outnumbered the curses. Total strangers came in and helped heave trash out to the street and make sure we stayed fed and hydrated. Friends and family took time off work to help clean up and decontaminate what was left. Once the initial shock of seeing destroyed memories leaving the house wore off, we didn't even bother questioning what we might salvage. Just get it out. Goodbye photos and treasured mementos. We have precious people in our lives now that are worth far more than those things. We have befriended new neighbors we may never have known without the great flood of 2009.

      We have also learned that disasters can bring out the worst in some folks. We have been called stupid (for living on former rice fields in a flood zone) and greedy (for asking for government assistance). We didn't buy in a flood zone. The flood zone came to us in 2007 after FEMA finally redrew the flood maps after Tropical Storm Allison. Most residents had flood insurance. Some did not. Others were never informed of the change in flood zoning by their mortgage and insurance companies, and as a result lost the ability to buy coverage at the old rates. One woman told me that it would now cost her $5,000 a year for the basic flood policy. West Houston is not an area populated by people looking for a handout. While the leftover FEMA trailers from Katrina would have been a godsend, we got on with it without them. We got through our cleanup with various flood-related illnesses ranging from respiratory illness to weeks of diarrhea caused by e-coli in the sewage-contaminated water. Nothing like a little PTSD on top of the physical issues to really cap off a disaster. Just when you need to think clearly, that ability is stripped away. Add little to no action on the part of our county and state officials, and the feeling of isolation and abandonment becomes overwhelming at times.

      As to our worsening flood issues, there is a ton of information that come to light in the aftermath of April's event. Yes, the rain we experienced was phenomenal, but similar rain events have occurred in the past without this kind of massive flood damage. Our water district, Harris County UD #6, commissioned a drainage study in 2006. A copy of the report and recommendations were given to the Bear Creek homeowners association (Hunters Park Community Association), Harris County Flood Control and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The report disappeared down the drain of those governmental agencies and nothing happened. The report is damning to say the least. We have several problems in play that contribute to our chronic and worsening flooding that involve several governmental jurisdictions. Because we are in unincorporated Harris County, we are at the mercy of the county commissioners. Jerry Eversole appears to want to spend more time at Starbucks than doing his job of maintaining roads, bridges and drainage infrastructure; and Steve Radack isn't any better. Mayor White and the City of Houston actually DO their jobs and send out inspectors after a disaster. We residents outside the city limits must do that job ourselves, and we were completely unaware of that fact until we flooded. Nothing happened until we made it happen.

      According to the 2006 drainage study, many of our drains (built by the developer and accepted by Harris County for maintenance) actually run backward. The same goes for some of the outfall pipes that go to Langham Creek and into Addicks Reservoir. One of the major outfall pipes was never even connected to the subdivision's drainage system.

      The way Flood Control works (or rather, doesn't work) is that no regular maintenance such as desilting and desnagging is performed. They wait until the creeks and bayous are so full of silt, debris and vegetation that neighborhood flooding becomes a major problem. Then they have to do a study on the situation to determine exactly what needs to be done. Next, Flood Control has to obtain funding from either a federal grant or Commissioner's Court. Enter the despicable and polluted world of county politics.

      While west and northwest Harris County undergoes profound development, ever more rainwater runoff flows downstream to the subdivisions developed in the 1970's and 1980's. While the system was adequate thirty years ago, they can no longer handle the additional runoff burden without significant improvements to the drainage infrastructure.

      The County wants the tax revenues from the new developments, but is unwilling to spend the money on drainage improvements downstream. As long as a resident pays flood insurance premiums, FEMA will keep rebuilding our endangered homes. Buyouts are not done until a particular area (not just a handful of homes) has flooded many times. Flood Control must apply to the federal government for grant money for a buyout program, and they must present a study showing that destroying those structures will improve flood control for the surrounding area. It is not a philanthropic program for helping financially burdened

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Alicia, Happy to share this information. Slowly things are getting back to normal for those people affected by the flood. The contractors are still very evident and busy in that area!

    • Alicia Crowder profile image

      Alicia Crowder 

      9 years ago from Everywhere

      Thank you for publishing this informative article!

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Jennifer,

      Thank you so much for this most informative and useful update. Hopefully everyone that needs this information will have access to it. You are certainly doing your best! I'll forward this hub again to people I know in the Bear Creek area and feel free to do the same. With your added information, hopefully this will help the situation.

      Better drainage and leaving more open green space is absolutely critical to prevent this from happening over and over again.

    • profile image

      Jennifer Bayles 

      9 years ago

      I am in Bear Creek and we got 14" of water contaminated with raw sewage and hydrocarbon products. I've been pounding the pavement to get the word out to residents that Commissioners Eversole and Radack are not doing their jobs to get damage estimates to the governor so we can be declared a disaster area. Without that declaration, there will be NO help from FEMA for the many, many homeowners with no flood insurance. They are now getting sick from having to live in their contaminated homes.

      Damage reports must be called in to the Harris County Office of Emergency Management. Mark Sloan heads the department, and his assistant Joyce now has extra staff to handle the load of calls finally coming in. The number is 713-881-3100; open from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday thru Friday.

      More information for Bear Creek residents is on our website at

      Also hard hit are:

      Savannah Estates, Hearthstone, Yorktown, Jamestown, Charlestown - pretty much anywhere that Langham, Bear Creek and Horsepen Creek flows through. I am now getting flyers out to Bear Creek area businesses like the grocery stores, hardware and big box stores where flood victims will need to go to replace their belongings. We just don't have enough manpower to go door-to-door throughout the entire area.

      Two days ago the number of damaged homes was at 716. County Engineering told us yesterday they believe the total will be in the neighborhood of 2,000 homes and businesses or over. Again, we residents must report the damage to OEM including home, possessions, and vehicle losses. Make a point of mentioning the raw sewage and gasoline-contaminated water.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello JamaGene, I agree with you wholeheartedly. City and county planners should also be more responsible and not keep issuing building permits to cover every bit of land. We need our green spaces for more reasons than just asthetics. Thanks for the comment. Hope your friends did not lose and valuable items in their basements.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      9 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      It's in the best interest of insurance companies to push for whatever measures are needed to prevent flooding that causes so many to lose so much. Where were they when green space was being covered with concrete?

      btw, we got a lot of that rain here last week.  Only about 5 inches, but that was enough in a very short period to flood basements that don't normally flood. One friend's basement is still a soggy mess of gawdknowswhat.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Curious Traveller,

      Sorry to hear about the similar problems in the UK. Things DO seem to be getting worse each year.

      With the economy such as it is, most city governments are cutting budgets. The mayor of Houston just said on television last night when addressing the city council that improved drainage will continue to be a high priority and that is one area that will be spared any budget cuts. That is very GOOD NEWS for those of us living here! Some of the economic stimulus money will be put towards that effort. Maybe we will see the results of less flooding in the future??? It will take time and it is a monumental project considering the size of Houston.......4th largest city in the U.S.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello kiran,

      So very sad to hear that your government is of little help to the people. That should be their reason for existence in the first place. Private organizations like the Red Cross, Salvation Army and countless smaller groups including churches of all denominations are also of immense help to people when disasters occur over here as well as elsewhere around the world. Thank heavens for their continuing help!

    • Curious Traveller profile image

      Curious Traveller 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow, this looks and sounds horrific, Peggy. This is happening in several parts of the UK now as well with extremely worrying regularity. Although causes or contributions are a very contentious issue, I think it is definitely getting to the stage where no one can dispute the fact that extreme climatic changes are taking place on this planet and that severe weather occurences are becoming considerably more common.

    • kiran8 profile image


      9 years ago from Mangalore, India

      I am so soorry to see this, but to be frank with you, in my country ( India) this happens every year making thousands of people homeless and totally at the mercy of nature, with the corrupt government officials trying to gain mileage , in spite of doing percious little to help those people. It is mostly private organisations which reach out to these peole and offer them help...

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Jason,

      Flood insurance is a nationally offered program, and yes.....many people in our area take it out as a precaution. Most insurance policies do not cover rising water, so this is the only way to protect one's home and possessions in the case of flooding. In some areas of typical flooding, it is mandatory. In other areas it is not mandated. Thanks for your question.

    • jasonstevens profile image


      9 years ago from California, United States

      Is flood insurance common in your area?

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Erick,

      That is terrible! Amazing that no one was hurt. In what part of the world do you live? Sending best of wishes your way, and thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • profile image

      Erick Smart 

      9 years ago

      I can sympathize here. Over the past few days we have had 8 inches of rain. New sinkholes have opened up and a school roof collapsed last night with 100 parents, teachers, and kids inside. Luckily everyone was okay.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks Patty, I agree that green spaces are not only useful for soaking up water, but also good for the spirits of people who live in cities.

      An innovative way to use some of it is in some of our flood control areas which are parks (when not flooded) and some of the things in them include soccer fields, running and walking tracks, dog parks, baseball diamonds and even a mini zoo in Bear Creek Park. That park is the largest county park in Texas and is nearby. They also have picnic areas with a few covered pavillions and restroom facilities. When the overflow of flood waters hits those areas they are simply closed to the public and the animals are moved to higher ground.

      Years ago the Army Corps of Engineers built some earthen dams in our area which retain flood waters from various creeks and bayous and have effectively kept downtown Houston from flooding. In the 30+ years that we have lived in this area only 3 times have two of the major roads crossing the flood control project have had to be closed due to water over the road. The roads sit up high. When opened, it looks like one is crossing a causeway with water on all sides until the ground gradually absorbs the water or it evaporates.

      This latest deluge was the 3rd time the roads have closed since we live here!

      We really DO like living here except for these occasional floods and hurricanes. Guess no place is perfect!

      Hopefully we'll have a quiet year with the hurricanes. Our area has had its share of disasters for a while.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Green space is a good answer for soaking and retaining water. And they are gorgeous.

      Best wishes to you and your mom.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Patty,

      We escaped this latest flooding but not the case years ago. Had my mother not moved along with us 2 1/2 years ago...she would have been in the middle of this latest flood.

      Yes.....better sewage drains would help but with the topography of Houston as flat as it is, thought should be given to keeping some more open green space before continually covering more of the ground with concrete.

      Impermeable home storage units. Interesting thought. The answer for most is to lift things and put them as high up on top of other things when floods occur.

      Thanks for the comments.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I am really sorry you had this happen - I've had lots of important files and papers destroyed in floods over the last 12 years and am discouraged by it every time I hear of high water. We had 6 inches quickly flood our streets for 3 miles a few days ago. Cars stalled and floated to the curb.

      I will keep you in prayer. Perhaps Stimulus Package money chould go for anti-flood measures and impermeable home storage equipment in frequently flooded areas.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi G-Ma,

      Thank you so very much for your blessing. Time will help heal the scars in neighborhoods as well as help to heal hearts. Hugs back to you!

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      9 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Yes Mother nature does have her savage moments and am sorry for all, but am also saddened to hear about your brother passing...God rest His soul and Bless your mom...things can be overwhelming at times can't they!!!G-Ma Hugs :O)

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi shamelabboush,

      Yes, Nature can be as cruel as it is wonderful. Depends upon the season and what happens to be in the mix of climate change as well as influences like tutonic plate shifting; solar flares, and so much more. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Melody,

      So sorry to hear about the typhoon in your area. Were any of your friends or family affected?

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks Teresa. Gives a whole new meaning to the saying "When it rains, it pours!"

    • Peggy W profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Pete,

      Bear Creek which is the western part of town located outside of the Houston city limits got the brunt of the storm, but we have heard about other areas being affected also...perhaps just not quite to this extent. Thanks for commenting.

    • shamelabboush profile image


      9 years ago

      This is terrible. Nature is so cruel sometimes, but I only blame us for the climate change bcz this is one of the results. God be with them.

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 

      9 years ago from Philippines

      The damage is indeed substantial. A region here too sustained great damage after a typhoon hit it this weekend.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Sorry to hear how much damage was done.

    • Pete Maida profile image

      Pete Maida 

      9 years ago

      I'm sorry to hear that it was so mad there.


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