Water levels that rivaled those of Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 affected 17 subdivisions and flooded more than 60 homes in northwest Harris County last week, causing more than $1 million worth of damage in an area that received almost 13 inches of rain from July 11–13.
"It was a unique event, because a lot of the time when we have flooding, all of the bayous go out of their banks, but this was localized to the Cypress Creek watershed," said Richard Lieder, chief of the Cypress Creek Fire Department.
The Cypress Creek watershed spans northwest Harris County from east of I-45 to the west into Waller County. Cypress Creek and Little Cypress Creek are the watershed's two major streams around which flooding can occur, because some homes were built deep into the floodplain before detailed maps and management regulations were adopted, according to the Harris County Flood Control District.
The area around Cypress Creek and Grant Road rose to 124.7 inches above sea level July 13, which is the second highest reading recorded in recent history, second only to a flooding event in October 1994, according to the Harris County Flood Warning System. The flood gage at Huffmeister Road and Cypress Creek rose to more than 130 inches above sea level, second to a flooding event that occurred in October 1998.
Several subdivisions in Cypress were affected by the rain, including Norchester, where the water was chest-high, and areas around Kluge Road, where water rose more than five feet, Lieder said.
Although all the roadways in the area are back open and the water has receded into its banks along Cypress Creek, Leider warns that the watershed should not be used as a recreational waterway during flood stage.
"Come Sunday when the rain cleared up, people were putting canoes, kayaks and inner tubes [on the creek]," he said. "That's a really bad idea at flood stage, because the water is moving fast, there's all kinds of hidden hazards just below the waterline and it's difficult to get in and out of the creek."
Ultimately, since most flood events are temporary in nature, residents in affected areas should wait until the water goes down to drive through a flooded roadway, Lieder said.
"If you see water flooded above the curb across the road, you need to find a different way to go," he said.