Our purpose at Cypress Creek – Stop the Flooding is to educate and inform citizens and businesses owners along Cypress Creek in northwest Harris County, Texas. No words we offer can guild the black lily of flooding for the 10,000 home and business owners who lost their property during the Harvey flood. But before Harvey there was the Tax Day flood. Before the Tax Day flood there was the Memorial Day flood (1 & 2). Why? Why is there so much flooding on Cypress Creek? What can we do? Learn that here.
Next education opportunity on flooding:
Sept. 8, 2020 12 – 1:15 pm Lone Star College – UP
One hour class online: Flooding in Harris County
Sign up with LSC Adult Leisure Learning at: https://www.lonestar.edu/all
No halleluiah yet
July and we are well into hurricane season. Forecasts indicate it can be pretty exciting this fall as far as tropical cyclones in the Atlantic/Gulf go. Buy flood insurance. Be ready.
What’s the latest on Cypress Creek flood mitigation, you say? Here’s the news from HCFCD.
Work on the TC Jester detention site is delayed due to the coronavirus causing state and federal permitters to work from home. Perhaps work can commence August/September time frame on the west basin, the small one. Work on the large, 120-acre, basin on the east? “Perhaps” summer of 2021 for initiation of work. As usual funding seems to be an issue. HCFCD needs to commit to this work and dedicate the funds. If $600 million can be budgeted for work up on Little Cypress Creek, where nobody lives, money can be found for the flooded areas where 300,000 live and work. How can we prosper with repeated flooding in the area?
But don’t get too excited. The Jester facility may be only around 1,000 acre/feet in size. It will be of some help to the local area but the need along Cypress Creek is 250,000 acre/feet according to the Michael Baker study. But it’s a start and we have had nothing before this.
What’s the “big picture” look like for mitigation along Cypress Creek? Nobody knows. What should it look like? Go to: www.projectbrays.org
This is the joint project by HCFCD and Army Engineers to mitigate Brays Bayou in southwest Houston. Timelines, budgeting, goals, updates are all available. Exactly oppose of what we receive along Cy Creek. We need an advocate to push flood mitigation forward for us. Who will it be? Our only local elected official in northwest Harris County is Commissioner Cagle who, by law, sits on Commissioner’s Court which is the oversight body for HCFCD. Yet conversations with Commissioner Cagle indicate there is no comprehensive plan, no timeline, no goals and no accountability in Precinct 4 for flood control along Cypress Creek almost 3 years after Harvey.
Going forward our organization, www.cycreekstoptheflooding.com, will attempt to construct and publish on our site one scenario which citizens can view, educate themselves and judge for themselves how responsive government is being to meeting their safety/security needs regarding flooding.
HCFCD is contemplating hiring an engineering firm to construct a Cy Creek website similar to the Projectbrays above. If it goes forward look for something online after the first of the year. It could be an excellent tool to see where we are in flood mitigation and where we are going.
Further to the west, at Eldridge Parkway and the Creek, the Cypress Park Detention Basin is planned to expand from its current size of 530 acre/feet to a huge feature of 9,300 acre/feet. This would be a huge help with water coming from the west and down Little Cypress Creek. But, land acquisition is just beginning and, like everything along Cy Creek, it won’t be easy or cheap – a long term project with great ramifications.
Finally, mini-projects have been suggested and HCFCD is investigating. Home buyouts are voluntary under the county program. As a result, some subdivisions are ‘checker-boarded’ with residents who elect to remain deep in the flood plain, forestalling the installation of detention features. HCFCD will investigate installing swales in these areas of buyout. The swales would help water drain, also hold relatively small amounts of water for a short time and allow for better percolation into the soil. We await their conclusions.
We always welcome your comments, views and questions. Our goal is education and flood mitigation.
Floods, plagues and locusts
No one should underestimate the danger of the coronavirus. Or the danger of our next flood along Cypress Creek in spite of having to social distance and avoid the plague. Since Harris County has seen 5 floods in the last 6 years we should expect another, shortly. We are currently in the middle of the spring rainy season (remember Tax Day & Memorial floods?). And a month and a half from hurricane season. Under our “Studies & Reports” tab you can find an extremely interesting Op-ed from last Sunday by the Bayou City Initiative on what we need to mitigate flooding during an epidemic. Or you can click here:
This chart is from the Greater Houston Flood Consortium’s report on Harvey. It notes the amount of spending on flood mitigation on each of Harris County’s 22 watersheds over the last 20 years or so. Cypress Creek is Harris County’s largest watershed with the longest stream (30 miles) in the county. Note the amount spent on flood mitigation here.
Flood Meeting – State Reps and HCFCD, October 31st, 2019
On October 31, 2019, cycreekstoptheflooding.com coordinated a meeting between state representatives and HCFCD at HCFCD’s HQ. Present were Representative Sam Harless and Representative Valerie Swanson and their staffs. Present for HCFCD were Russ Poppe and Matt Zeve with their staff support. A summation of the meeting follows:
1. The State Reps made it very clear to HCFCD that the citizens along Cypress Creek had been very patient but that patience was at an end. Flood mitigation action is required by HCFCD. It appeared that message was received by HCFCD.
2. Matt Zeve volunteered that the HCFCD website page for Cy Creek would be modified so that users could obtain salient information on projects such as timelines, percent completed, etc., so that progress can be monitored.
3. The CI-012 ‘Major Maintenance’ project on Cy Creek has begun. Citizens may see work at various areas along the Creek. This project is to desilt and restore the Creek to its previous condition before storm damage. This is not an effort to increase the water carrying capacity of the Creek.
4. The CI-035 study for regional drainage and tributaries of the Creek is completed in its draft form. Russ Poppe promised this report would be finalized by year end. This report is the basis for much of the work to be done on Cypress Creek to lower the flood risk.
5. Of the $100 million in the Bond election dedicated to buying land along Cypress Creek for detention facilities, Matt Zeve stated that land purchase continues but not enough land has been purchased anywhere along the Creek to construct a new detention facility.
6. Harris County owns the land along the Creek between and near the TC Jester bridge and Meyer Parks. There is no reason that construction of a large detention feature cannot begin here. Russ Poppe challenged his team to move forward on this and other projects which are necessary without waiting for completion of all studies. Nevertheless, there will be further delay as HCFCD must obtain permits and environmental approval.
7. The Kuykendahl bridge at the Creek has been identified as a bottleneck for drainage and needs to be modified. As this is a County bridge under the control of Precinct 4 it would seem relatively ‘easy’ to begin the work on this modification. Matt Zeve said he would take this project to the Commissioner, Jack Cagle, to initiate work. Likewise, the I-45 bridge is a bottleneck but as this is an interstate bridge with TXDOT and the Feds involved it will take longer to modify.
8. Home buyouts along the Creek continue, removing families from high risk areas. But, thus far, due to the voluntary nature of the buyouts, no subdivision has been entirely purchased which could allow construction of a detention facility at that location.
9. Considerable funds are still available from the Bond for joint use flood mitigation projects between HCFCD and community entities, such as MUDs, HOAs, etc. There seems to be a great reluctance for the local entities to apply for funds as this is a ‘cost sharing’ effort and the local entity must foot part (~50%) of the cost.
10. Despite direct questioning we were unable to secure a promise from HCFCD that detention features would be multi-use in a manner which would be an asset to the community for other than flood water detention.
Opinion: we were heartened to hear the state reps deliver a very clear message that the time for Cypress Creek is ‘now’. There continues to be considerable flood mitigation work ongoing across Harris County. We need to see the same level of activity along Cy Creek. Unfortunately, it is a bureaucratic effort and agonizingly slow. Please remember that one reason we have any success at all is because you have voiced your concerns and continue to do so. Without citizen involvement we are going nowhere. Keep up your contacts with your elected officials and the civil servants who work for you.