Katy-area emergency leader on Imelda: ‘We were very fortunate’

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Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:30 p.m. to include information from Community Volunteer Fire Department. It was previously updated at 12:50 p.m. to include the number of high-water rescue calls Harris County Emergency Service District No. 48 received as well as at 11:20 a.m. to include comments from the Willowfork Fire Department.

Several local emergency management leaders said the Katy area fared well during the Sept. 19 flooding from Tropical Storm Imelda compared other parts of the Greater Houston area.

“For the most part, we were very fortunate,” said Greg Goedecker, Katy office of emergency management coordinator. “The city of Katy got about 1.5 inches to 3 inches of rain. We were very fortunate, and we’re watching [the weather]very closely. We’d been watching it since Sunday [Sept. 15].

Goedecker said the city did not receive calls of high water or for rescues inside city limits. He added that the public works department checked normal problem spots and drainage systems.

“Everything drained well,” he said.

Some streets did flood in the Katy area, said Wendy Duncan, the co-founder of Barker Flood Prevention, a local group advocating flood-management solutions for the Barker Reservoir watershed. She explained that anytime more than 2 inches of rain falls per hour, streets will flood because storm drains cannot handle that amount of water.

“The Cinco Ranch Area received [3.5 inches] in one hour, which produced the severe street flooding we experienced,” she wrote on a 6:45 a.m. Sept. 20 Facebook update.

She added that the Willow Fork drainage channel and Buffalo Bayou performed well and are ready to handle any additional rains today.

Willowfork Fire Department Fire Chief Billy Wilson said the waters in the department’s jurisdiction drained well and all streets are passible to his knowledge. No structural flooding was reported, through the department did answer calls for disabled vehicles and rescued one stranded motorist on Sept. 19, he said.

Meanwhile, Community Volunteer Fire Department received six calls and performed about 30 high-water rescues near Fry Road and the Westpark Tollway, said Assistant Fire Chief Johnny Mitchell. CVFD partnered with Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Constables Office to perform these rescues.

Most of the floodwaters drained by the evening of Sept. 19, Mitchell said.

September 2019 Flooding Katy

Community Volunteer Fire Department partnered with Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Constables office to coordinate high water rescues near Fry Road and Westpark Tollway. (via Courtesy Community Volunteer Fire Department)

Harris County Emergency Services District No. 48 answered 15 calls for high-water rescues near South Mason and Fry roads as well as near I-10 and Highland Knolls Drive, HCESD 48 spokesperson Simon VanDyk said. None of the rescues were life threatening, and HCESD 48 had all three of its high water vehicles and booster trucks staffed and deployed during the rainfall.

“The west side [of the Greater Houston area]just didn’t have the volume of water that the east side did,” he said. “Here in Katy, it was just the low-lying areas.”

The Fulshear-Simonton Fire Department did not experience flooding in its district, Business Manager Brandi Crone said.

“We did very well and [are]at regular staffing levels today [Sept. 20],” she said.

The city of Katy remains under a flash flood watch until 7 p.m., Goedecker said, adding that residents can expect scattered showers throughout the day.

“We’re not going to see the same heavy rain fall rates as yesterday,” he said.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch at 4:15 a.m.—set to expire at 7 p.m.—for Harris, Fort Bend and Waller counties. Tropical Depression Imelda is expected to slowly drift northeast.

“The potential for scattered showers and thunderstorms should develop east of I-45 in the morning hours before shifting west of I-45 by the afternoon,” according to the NWS alert. “Given the very saturated grounds and watersheds, it would not take much rain to exacerbate these conditions once again.”

Follow all of our Houston-area flooding coverage.

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Jen Para
Jen joined Community Impact Newspaper in fall 2018 as the editor of the Katy edition. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Jen has written about business, politics and education since 2013. Prior to CI, Jen was the web producer at Houston Business Journal.
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