In response to catastrophic flooding two years in a row, Precinct 4’s Mercer Botanic Gardens has redoubled its efforts to acquire additional acreage on higher ground and relocate its hardest hit structures.
Plans to relocate parts of the garden began last year after the Tax Day Flood damaged areas of Mercer closest to Cypress Creek. The devastation highlighted the need for additional acreage on higher ground and a master plan to limit future flood damage. Soon after, The Mercer Society, the nonprofit providing philanthropic support to Mercer, launched the Rebuild Mercer Campaign with a goal of purchasing 34 acres on higher ground. So far, in partnership with Harris County Precinct 4, 10 of those acres have been acquired.
“Our goal is to move vulnerable gardens and greenhouses to higher ground and redesign low-lying areas to better withstand floodwaters,” said Mercer Director Darrin Duling. “A master plan will help us map out all areas of the garden and redevelop the entire facility to reduce the damage future flooding could cause.”
More than a year after the Tax Day Floods, Hurricane Harvey struck the area, bringing 30 to 50 inches of rain over Harris County and causing some of the worst damage in Mercer’s history. Floodwaters up to 8 feet high severely damaged paths, buildings and gardens. Silt flowed hundreds of yards inland, burying plants, trees and sprinkler systems. All buildings except a staff building on 10-foot piers flooded.
“This was a massive step back. The gardens were devastated, and all our fundraisers had to be rescheduled or canceled,” said The Mercer Society President Maryanne Esser. “We’re now working with partner locations to develop fundraisers at off site locations. It’s now more important than ever that we move some of Mercer’s structures out of the floodplain.”
The society raises funds for Mercer through volunteer-driven events, donor sponsorships and contributions, and educational programs throughout the year. Anyone who would like to donate toward Mercer’s recovery can visit themercersociety.org/ways-to-give/donate. Checks should be made out to The Mercer Society.
With leadership from Commissioner R. Jack Cagle, Mercer Botanic Gardens is a Harris County Precinct 4 Parks facility located one mile north of FM 1960 at 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble. Harris County Precinct 4 programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, sex, religion, national origin or physical ability. Anyone seeking additional information or requiring special assistance to participate in any program should contact Mercer at 713-274-4160 or online at hcp4.net/community/parks/mercer.