Kingwood residents urge Harris County officials to declare emergency

Hamblen Road collapsed on May 7 from severe floods. The city of Houston Public Works is currently reconstructing the road.

Hamblen Road collapsed on May 7 from severe floods. The city of Houston Public Works is currently reconstructing the road.

Kingwood residents are arguing for Harris County to declare a national emergency declaration following severe rain in the Lake Houston area May 7 and 9 that flooded homes and businesses in the region. Between 11 a.m. and midnight May 7, a rain gauge located at the East Fork of the San Jacinto River and FM 1485 reported 9.72 inches of rainfall, according to Harris County Flood Warning System data.

In addition to home damages, rainfall also washed out the portion of Hamblen Road between Redbud Lane and Bonnie Glen Lane, said Alanna Reed, the communications director with Houston Public Works. She said the Forest Cove neighborhood, where Hamblen Road is located, has frequent flooding issues due to its proximity to the San Jacinto River.

A May 14 news release from Houston City Council Member Dave Martin’s office stated that reconstruction of Hamblen Road began May 15 and is expected to be completed within four to six weeks. The reconstruction project costs approximately $750,000, and it is funded by the city of Houston.

Meanwhile, the city of Houston also evaluated storm drains in the Kingwood area to see if debris or sludge in the system caused some neighborhoods that had not flooded during Hurricane Harvey, such as Elm Grove Village, to flood. However, after reviewing storm and sanitary sewer lines in the Kingwood area, Martin said there were no blockages or sludge detected.

As of press time, a reported 380 homes in the Houston area received debris or flood damage during the multiday storm, according to a news release from Martin’s office.

Harris County Judge Lina Hildago stated in a May 13 news release the county does not currently qualify for a disaster declaration, which could allow federal funds to be allocated to the community. Hildago stated there needs to be $40 million in losses to meet the threshold, and more than 800 homes must be heavily damaged.

Elm Grove Village residents addressed Harris County commissioners May 13 to ask how they can reach the threshold.

“These are working-class folks; they don’t have the resources to come back from this type of disaster,” Elm Grove resident Daryl Palmer said at the meeting. “We’re working together to get to that number you’re talking about, but I know it’s not just a number. It’s human hearts, human lives.”

For more coverage on the Harris County Commissioners Court meeting, click here.
By Kelly Schafler

Managing editor, South Houston

Kelly joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in June 2017 after majoring in print journalism and creative writing at the University of Houston. In March 2019, she transitioned to editor for the Lake Houston-Humble-Kingwood edition and began covering the Spring and Klein area as well in August 2020. In June 2021, Kelly was promoted to South Houston managing editor.