At least 70 plaintiffs have filed suit over flooding which occurred in Elm Grove Village and surrounding areas. In some cases, the deluge of rain dumped in southeast Montgomery County and northeast Harris County May 7 was worse than Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
- Flooded Elm Grove residents hold meeting with attorneys -
Within a span of just a few hours, residents in Humble, Kingwood, Huffman and Atascocita in Harris County saw at least 10 inches of rainfall. The National Weather Service maps show Elm Grove in Kingwood receiving 14 inches or more.
Spurlock and Associates filed a request for a temporary injunction May 14, asking that measures be taken immediately to prevent another flooding episode.
The suit names Figure Four Partners, Inc., PSWA, Inc. and Rebel Contractors, Inc. as defendants. These three entities own and/or operate on land north of Elm Grove and are in process of building a residential development. The land previously was undeveloped.
The lawsuit states that Elm Grove has “never flooded” in the past and that the defendants trenched out certain areas, added box culverts to create drainage and filled in existing creeks and drainage channels. They also, the suit states, “completely blocked waterflow from the existing water channels.” Additionally, the suit states that as land was cleared, “the development was sloped toward the plaintiffs’ neighborhood such that water would flow directly toward the plaintiffs’ homes.”
More than 200 homes in Kingwood flooded, mostly in the Elm Grove neighborhood, but also homes in North and South Woodland Hills and in Sherwood Trails; most for the first time ever, with the Houston Fire Department having to rescue many. Local resident Bob Rehak, who maintains a flooding web site, ReduceFlooding.com, posted a lengthy comment on what he suspects is the cause of the Elm Grove flooding– the new development of Figure Four Partners, a subsidiary of Perry Homes. Rehak and others believe the developer did not properly prepare for drainage and altered the naturally existing water runoff.
Attorney Kim Spurlock organized a meeting at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church May 11 and the room was overflowing with affected residents. Spurlock led the 90-minute meeting where a standing room-only crowd was told by Spurlock about the temporary injunction and ultimately, that she will file lawsuits on behalf of residents.
Figure Four Partners issued a statement denying responsibility:
“While our hearts go out to the homeowners that recently flooded in the Elm Grove Subdivision, the flooding there this week had absolutely nothing to do with the Figure Four and Perry Homes project nearby. As virtually every media outlet in the region has reported this week, and Harris County Flood Control meteorologist Jeff Lindner confirmed, Tuesday’s rainfalls at times matched the intensity of Hurricane Harvey. The Houston Chronicle reported that ‘The rainfall was particularly severe in suburban areas such as Kingwood.’ Though our project is still in the land-clearing stage, many of the detention ponds are complete – providing improved drainage to the area that did not previously exist. Additionally, the drainage study and construction plans for the Figure Four project were completed by LJA Engineering, an experienced and highly respected firm and approved by the County. All City and County permits were obtained and all applicable building codes have been followed. Several questions have been asked about a concrete structure on the project. This structure is the outfall control device and part of the permitted and approved drainage plan. The outfall control device functioned as designed on Tuesday night. Similar to the detention ponds, the outflow control structure improved drainage in the area.”
Part of Hamblen Road near the San Jacinto River is closed after it was completely washed out, creating a sinkhole at least 10 feet deep, officials said. HPD warned residents to stay away from the area while officials from Houston Public Works assessed the damages. The most recent estimate is that the road will be closed 4 to 6 weeks. Houston City councilmember Dave Martin said both Kingwood and Kingwood Park high schools, along with three middle schools and two elementary schools, took on water.
In the days since, the Kingwood community has seen mounds of debris at the end of driveways, reminiscent of the destruction of Hurricane Harvey 20 months ago. Martin arranged for City of Houston Solid Waste pickup within hours of the deluge.
In response to the recent storms seen throughout the Houston region, Congressman Dan Crenshaw organized a gift card donation at Second Baptist Church May 11.
“The severe storms hitting our region have resulted in heavy rainfall, hundreds of homes flooded, hundreds without power, school closures and sinkholes throughout the area,” said Crenshaw.
“While not on the same scale, we cannot help but think of the conditions that accompanied Hurricane Harvey.
“For years our infrastructure and drainage systems have caused flooding problems. To change this, we must focus on the following priorities: releasing the $4 billion in funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Office of Management and Budget; ensuring the City of Houston provides FEMA with the necessary information to approve the $37 million project to expand the Lake Houston dam gates; and investing in drainage maintenance to better manage the flow of water.
“Fully recovering from Harvey and improving our infrastructure to better handle the next storm can only happen when city, local and federal officials work together.
“The people of the Houston region are resilient, but they should not have to endure another storm and the next hurricane season without government taking care of these priorities,” Crenshaw said.