With many homeowners in Harris and Montgomery counties working to repair their homes while waiting on federal assistance, local officials are working to determine what can be done locally and are identifying challenges to future mitigation.
The Woodlands Township has spearheaded the Storm Drainage Task Force—developed in June 2016 to help find solutions for drainage issues in the area.
Township Director Bruce Rieser said, following Hurricane Harvey in late August, the task force has expanded to include representation from 33 area agencies, including the Harris County Flood Control District, area municipal utility districts and the offices of U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, state Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, and state Sen. Brandon Crieghton, R-Conroe.
“This is the only place where everybody is in the same room at the same time exchanging ideas and talking to each other about what needs to get done,” Rieser said during a Nov. 29 presentation to the township board.
While the township and Montgomery County are working with Brady to request federal funding for a countywide flood study and mitigation projects, Rieser warned there is already a high volume of funding requests from entities across the U.S.
“Let’s also remember that we had a huge hurricane come through Florida two weeks after [Harvey] and an even bigger one than that, that came through Puerto Rico a month later,” Rieser said. “Federal funding is going to be very sought after by a lot of different entities, so I think it is unrealistic of us to expect that we’re going to get a ton of federal funding in that scenario.”
Additionally, Rieser said any solutions found and proposed by the group for mitigation along Spring Creek would still have to be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before any work could begin.
Township Chairman Gordy Bunch said the group will also have to work with other entities to tackle the problem regionally, as any mitigation projects completed only in The Woodlands would likely not be effective.
“Anything we do in isolation may not even improve our situation unless the areas around us are part of the solution,” Bunch said.
Rieser said the group has not found a tangible solution for area flooding yet. However, the group is working with officials from MUD
No. 386 and The Woodlands Joint Powers Agency to develop digital models of waterways in the area to understand why certain areas flood during heavy rain events, which could help engineers identify future projects.
“It’s probably going to involve more retention. It may involve some levies. It may [involve]other potential solutions,” he said. “I think we’re going in the right direction—we’re doing the active modeling that we need to do to get an effective handle on this.”