Updated: Power cut to west Houston homes in mandatory evacuation order

Historic flooding has been occurring around the Addicks and Barker reservoirs this week in parts of Cy-Fair and Katy. Since the storm event began, approximately 35 inches of rain have fallen in watersheds upstream of the reservoirs.

Historic flooding has been occurring around the Addicks and Barker reservoirs this week in parts of Cy-Fair and Katy. Since the storm event began, approximately 35 inches of rain have fallen in watersheds upstream of the reservoirs.

Updated 12:45 p.m. Sept. 3



A mandatory evacuation has been issued for homes in west Houston that have already been flooded near the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, Community Impact Newspaper partner ABC 13 Houston reported.

During a press conference Saturday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the evacuation of homes in the zone south of I-10, north of Briar Forest Drive and west of Gessner Road.

Turner instructed CenterPoint Energy to turn off power to homes already flooded at 7 a.m. Sunday. By cutting the power, officials hope to get residents out of the evacuation zone and eliminate the need for any future high-water rescues, which strain first responders' limited resources.

"Firefighters will continue to work tirelessly, but we will not have the FEMA resources and boats to get into these areas and service people who remain in hazardous condition," said Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Pena.

A mandatory evacuation was issued for homes in the highlighted zone Saturday.[/caption]

The decision came after a Saturday morning blaze in a flooded house that became increasingly difficult for firefighters to battle. The threat of electrocution also played a role in the decision to cut power.

"It's in the best interest of public safety," Turner said.

The homes are expected to be inundated for the next two weeks as controlled releases from the reservoirs continue, officials said.

"Right when you thought it was almost over, that you'd escaped it, that's when we actually got the worst water," one resident in the evacuation zone said. "That's when it got into our house."

Despite the ongoing flooding risk to the neighborhood, water had receded noticeably from its highest point in some areas of the evacuation zone. Residents whose homes had not taken on water are not included in the evacuation order and will not have their power cut.

Updated 8:40 a.m. Aug. 31

The Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management issued new mandatory evacuation orders Thursday morning for homes near the Barker Reservoir in the Katy area.

Newly added homes under mandatory evacuation include:

  • Cinco Ranch South Lake Village sections 3-6

  • Villas of Villagio Townhomes


Meanwhile, some neighborhoods were taken off the mandatory evacuation list Thursday morning:

  • Cinco Ranch Greenway Village sections 1-9

  • Cinco Ranch Meadow Place section 4

  • Cinco Ranch North Lake Village sections 1 and 2, 6-11


In a video statement made via Facebook, Fort Bend County Judge Robert Hebert said the previous voluntary evacuation was changed to a mandatory evacuation because some residents had chosen to return to their properties in the flooded areas, thus complicating rescue efforts for first responders.

"However, if you live in an area that is dry, you're in your home and there is no water in your neighborhood, stay put," he said. "Nobody will be entering to demand that you leave."



Updated 5 p.m. Aug. 30

A representative from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers said Wednesday afternoon the pools in both dams are steady and peaking right now. They expect in the near future the water levels in the dams will start to subside.

Meteorologist Jeff Lindner with the Harris County Flood Control District also provided an update Wednesday afternoon with projections regarding rises along various points of Buffalo Bayou. However, Lindner said things remain in unprecedented territory and water is going to places HCFCD officials did not expect it to go. Water has been rising along the bayou due to continued releases from the reservoirs.

Lindner provided a rough estimate of areas that may see affects from the rising bayou level due to the controlled releases from the dam. Those who live in the area south of Memorial Drive, north of Briar Forest, and west of Beltway 8, could see affects, he said.


Additionally, there may be affects from the rising bayou east of Beltway 8, bounded by Memorial Drive on the north; on the south, Lindner said it is hard to tell where the streets are, but some subdivisions on the south side of bayou may see inundation as well.


The gauge at Hwy. 6, which is farthest point to the west, has been destroyed, so HCFCD officials are not sure what water level is, but they believe it is fairly steady, Lindner said.


At Dairy Ashford and Buffalo Bayou, the water level is at 76.88 feet and is steady. At the West Belt, the gauge has been destroyed. However, there is a crew on site trying to put a new system in for measurements. Lindner said it is unclear if it’s rising or falling there, but it is likely that water is rising in that area.


At Piney Point and Buffalo Bayou it is at 62.4 feet. and forecast to rise this afternoon to 63.5 feet. It will continue to rise to 64.1 feet late Thursday night and early Friday morning, Lindner said.


At Shepherd Drive and Buffalo Bayou, the current level is 25.1 and only forecast to increase to 25.8 by Friday. As you move down the bayou, it gets larger and is more capable of handling water coming down, Lindner said.


There will be another update tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Crews continue rescues near Barker reservoir

In the neighborhoods closest to George Bush Park in Harris County, Emergency Services District No. 48 crews performed more than 100 rescues Wednesday and more than 500 rescues Tuesday. The park backs up to Barker Reservoir and every such neighborhood was expected to have some homes underwater Wednesday.

ESD No. 48 public information officer Simon VanDyk said staff had set up two command posts at Exley Elementary School in Katy and near Kingsland Boulevard and Barker Cypress Road. He said Barker Reservoir is estimated to have crested, and dropped to 101.49 feet above sea level as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, down from its peak of 101.7 feet on Tuesday.

"It's the first time it's actually declined, so that's a positive," he said.

But he warned that the water, which entered surrounding neighborhoods from the dam and from Addicks Reservoir, is likely to remain in place for up to several weeks. As such, he said crews will canvass neighborhoods Thursday and give residents another opportunity to evacuate by boat.

"This is not like a normal event where water collects in the street and later it's gone," he said. "The primary message that we need people to understand is don't go into these waters."

Chemicals, pests, fire ants, sewage and other dangerous materials could be in the flood waters, VanDyk said. In addition, flooded homes could be without A/C, potable water and working sewers for some time.

"We would much rather extract them in a boat," he said.

VanDyk estimated that ESD No. 48 had conducted as many as 1,200 to 1,500 rescues since Friday, not including rescues made by private individuals. He did not have exact numbers for rescues around Addicks Reservoir Wednesday, which he said were primarily being handled by another department.

Updated 8:30 p.m. Aug. 29

Representatives from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers provided another update Monday evening regarding the controlled release of water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. To view the entire briefing, see the link below. 



Residents adjacent to the reservoirs, both upstream and downstream, are asked to continue their vigilance because water in the reservoirs still continues to rise and significant potential for more flooding remains an issue, according to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.


As of 6 p.m., the pool elevation at the Addicks Reservoir is 108.9 feet, which is up from 108.5 at noon. It is expected to peak at 109.1 feet, which is down from a previous prediction of peak at 110.4 feet. The pool elevation at Barker Reservoir is 101.4 feet, which is up from 101.3 feet at noon today. It is projected to peak at 101.7 feet, which is down from 104.4 feet, previously.


Approximately 35 to 40 inches of rain has fallen in watersheds upstream of the reservoirs since the storm event began.


Updated 1:55 p.m. Aug. 29

Representatives from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers provided an update Monday afternoon regarding the controlled release of water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs.


The Corp of Engineers continues to make controlled water releases through gated outlet structures. The intent has been to maintain the ability to control releases to extent possible before onset of uncontrolled release over and around the spillways at the end of the dams. Controlled dam releases are expected to occur for several months following this storm event.


Meteorologist Jeff Lindner with the Harris County Flood Control District said roughly 2,500 homes near the Addicks Reservoir are estimated to be flooded, while roughly 670 near the Barker Reservoir may be flooded. The flooding is not a result of the controlled discharge; it is a result of the pool of the reservoir continuing to rise and flooding the structures along the western portion of the reservoir land, Lindner said.  The controlled releases going on are going downstream to Buffalo Bayou.


Near the Addicks Reservoir, the lowest homes have from 3.5 to 5 feet of water. The amount of water gradually gets less as you move to the west, Lindner said. Near the Barker Reservoir, the lowest homes have 3 or 4 feet of water. Some homes are just beginning to take on water at the western fringe of the area, Lindner said.


The list of affected subdivisions was reviewed today and has not been updated.

To date since the storm event began, approximately 35 inches of rain have fallen in watersheds upstream of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. This is half amount of average rainfall in Houston area over course of an entire year.


Lindner said the district is in the process of conducting an aerial assessment of the county today.


“It’s bad,” he said. “It’s very bad from the air.”


Updated 11:45 a.m. Aug. 29

Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District, said Tuesday conditions at the Barker and Addicks reservoirs west of Houston near Katy and Cypress were unprecedented.

On Monday, the district began releasing water from the dams into Buffalo Bayou in an attempt to lessen flooding for surrounding neighborhoods. But the outflow has not been enough to counteract intake from rain and creeks, Lindner said.

"So we are trying our best to wrap our hands around what exactly this water's going to do as it interacts with subdivisions, roadside ditches, underground drainage systems, that it's all going to be interacting with as it all head's east toward the Beltway," he said to media Tuesday morning.

The following are more subdivisions that are likely to flood from the overflow:

  • Twin Lakes

  • Lakes on Eldridge

  • Lakes on Eldridge North

  • Independence Farms

  • Tanner Heights

  • Heritage Business Park




Simon VanDyk, public information officer for Harris County Emergency Services District No. 48, also said Monday that Bridgewater Village, which is not near the reservoirs but is close to Mayde Creek south of Clay Road, had also flooded.

Meanwhile, some HCFCD water gauges, which are used to track rainfall levels in the area, were out of service Tuesday morning due to flood-related damage.



Lindner said the forecast was for Addicks Reservoir to drop from 112 feet above sea level to 110.5 feet Tuesday. But Barker Reservoir was expected to rise to 104.4 feet, he said.

"The best thoughts right now is that the flow will move along Tanner Road east toward Beltway 8 and then approach Brittmoore [Road], and turn south down Brittmoore all the way to I-10, and likely enter into Rumble Creek," he said. "And then from Rumble Creek it will flow into Buffalo Bayou."

Some of the water may also flow into White Oak Bayou, Lindner said.

Published 7:21 p.m. Aug. 28

Despite efforts from government agencies to reduce flooding in the West Houston area, water is still entering the Barker and Addicks reservoirs in the Katy area at an alarming rate.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiated a controlled release from the reservoirs early Monday morning, sending floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey into Buffalo Bayou and out toward the Houston shipping channel.

Community Impact Newspaper partner ABC13 Houston reported a list of subdivisions likely to be impacted by the reservoir releases.[/caption]

Simon VanDyk, public information officer for Harris County Emergency Services District No. 48, said Sunday that the releases would benefit Katy area residents as the move would redirect more floodwaters eastward. But as of Monday evening he said the release was still not enough to mitigate concerning water levels at either reservoir, for both had exceeded their danger levels by about 6 p.m.

Barker Reservoir's gate is located near Hwy. 6 and Briar Forest Drive, and its rainfall gauge, which is on the reservoir, measured 99.35 feet above sea level as of 5:51 p.m. Monday, VanDyk said. The danger level—the point at which the homes of lowest elevation around the reservoir begin to flood—is 97 feet.

Addicks Reservoir's gate is closer to Eldridge Parkway and Park Row Drive, and its gauge measured 105 feet above sea level as of 4:55 p.m. Monday. That gauge's danger level is 102.6 feet.

"It's been rising much faster than anyone had predicted," VanDyk said. "Even though [the Harris County Flood Control District] opened the gates, they really did not let enough water out."

His office had not yet met with the Army Corps following the release as of 5:53 p.m. Monday.

Mayde Creek

As of that time, VanDyk said Mayde Creek had also overflowed its banks. A gauge at the waterway's Morton Road Crossing measured 123 feet and 48 inches above sea level, while the danger level is 121 feet.

"Pretty much every location on the board has received 25 to 27 inches of rain [since the storm made landfall Friday]," he said. "That's a ton of rain."

In fact, he said that the rainfall gauge in the district—on Mason Creek at Prince Creek Drive—was the only one not to have reached its danger level as of 5:53 p.m. Monday.

Maria DiPetta, spokesperson for Katy ISD, said earlier Monday that Mayde Creek Elementary, Mayde Creek Junior High and Mayde Creek High schools were all at risk of flooding. However, the district reported no flooded campuses as of 7 p.m.

By Marie Leonard
Marie came to Community Impact Newspaper in June 2011 after starting her career at a daily newspaper in East Texas. She worked as a reporter and editor for the Cy-Fair edition for nearly 5 years covering Harris County, Cy-Fair ISD, and local development and transportation news. She then moved to The Woodlands edition and covered local politics and development news in the master-planned community before being promoted to managing editor for the South Houston editions in July 2017.


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