Rain continued to pummel the Houston area today as the onslaught from Tropical Storm Harvey continued. Harvey is now circulating near Port O’Connor and will move back over the Gulf of Mexico, regain some strength and make a third landfall on Wednesday near the Texas/Louisiana border.
Flooding of the San Jacinto River and Lake Houston have many area residents very concerned. Harris County Flood Control District’s (HDFCD) official rainfall total for I-59 at the San Jacinto River is 27.16 inches as of Monday evening. Over 8 inches of that rainfall occurred on Monday. HCFCD spokesperson Sandra Ortiz issued a statement regarding the unprecedented watershed rises across Harris County. Major flooding is occurring in the east and west forks of the San Jacinto River basin that is approaching 1994 levels.
Many longtime Kingwood residents were discussing the 1994 flood event caused by torrential rainfall over a five-day period in October that caused devastating floods of the San Jacinto River basin.
Ortiz continued by saying that areas will remain well above flood levels for much of this week. Residents living around Lake Houston and East/West Fork San Jacinto River should take precautionary actions to protect themselves and belongings.
Councilman Dave Martin’s office released a statement that Lake Houston’s level is currently at 48.75 feet. The San Jacinto River Authority is releasing water from Lake Conroe, but Martin’s office emphasizes that Lake Conroe is a small fraction of the water coming in. Twelve tributaries, including Spring Creek and Cypress Creek, feed into the West Fork, and Martin’s office is working with the Coastal Water Authority to estimate the volume of water moving into our area as a result.
The East Fork San Jacinto River at FM 1485 north of Kingwood will also likely reach 1994 flood levels. The San Jacinto River below Lake Houston goes over the top of the spillway south into the lower part of the San Jacinto River; the river will reach major levels at 2-feet below the 1994 levels.
Early Monday morning, the Kingwood HEB grocery store opened around 9am and planned to close at 3pm. The Tribune spoke to HEB employees Bert Large and Damian Vargas who volunteered to come into work; they said the store had to close around noon as flood water filled the parking lot.
Shortly after noon, Martin’s office issued an imminent threat announcement for Kingwood Drive, letting residents know that there is high potential for the entirety of Kingwood Drive to be completely covered with water. Martin asked that residents exploring the area return home and hunker down, avoiding all local travel.
Martin stated that HPD, HFD and the US Coast Guard continue to provide high water rescue efforts in the Kingwood area.
HPD Officer L. Brown is coordinating a police respite unit at the Kingwood Community Center to give officers a place to go eat and recuperate after working long hours at the substation or on rescues. Brown said, “We are now starting to be affected by this storm. We’re starting to get information in and are starting to coordinate local volunteers and will be coordinated by this evening.” Brown said the officers are well stocked in supplies and their fridge is full of large pans of food. The officers are very grateful to the local community for these provisions that allow officers to refuel. Brown says that in addition to the officers that Kingwood normally has, there are more than 40 officers who normally work in other parts of the city that are unreachable. Officers were instructed to report to their nearest substation for work.
Kingwood High School was opened as an embarkment location for temporary refuge for those waiting for transport to a permanent shelter. KHS continues to operate as a transport shelter despite having four inches of raw sewage water contained to the gym side of the building.
The following locations are serving as shelters near our area:
New Covenant Church 901 Wilson Road
M.O. Campbell Center 1865 Aldine Bender
George R. Brown Convention Center 1001 Avenida de Las Americas
As of Monday evening, 4,800 people were at the Convention Center.
Kingwood Medical Center spokesperson Devon Alexander stated that the hospital “continues to care for the community throughout this catastrophic storm. Our employees and physicians have been on site since Friday in preparation of the storm. We will continue to ensure the safety of all of our patients, employees and physicians.”