After Tropical Storm Beta, Friendswood shares drainage updates

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
(Community Impact Newspaper staff)

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)

With Tropical Storm Beta behind them and Hurricane Delta forming in the Gulf of Mexico, drainage is still at the top of Friendswood residents’ and officials’ minds.

Friendswood City Manager Morad Kabiri shared drainage updates at Friendswood City Council’s regular meeting Oct. 5.

Dropping 13 inches of rain in two days, Beta flooded six Friendswood homes. In League City, no homes flooded, but upstream, at least 30 did, Kabiri said.

The Army Corps of Engineers is working to model Tropical Storm Beta’s flooding effects and update its flooding models for Hurricane Harvey. The Corps is in the process of designing a federal flood-mitigation project along Clear Creek that Congress funded in 2018, Kabiri said.

“Before they turn a shovel of dirt and send any water to the city of Friendswood, I can assure you we will verify there is no impact to the city of Friendswood during a Harvey event,” he said.

Since Harvey, Friendswood has acquired over a dozen properties that were prone to flooding. The city will use 2018 grant money to dig a detention pond in the Forest Bend neighborhood along Clear Creek at FM 528, Kabiri said.

Additionally, the city has kicked off meetings with the Texas General Land Office for planned work in the Frenchman’s Creek and Deepwood neighborhoods, Kabiri said. The City Council on Oct. 5 voted unanimously to have the city negotiate with the sole company that has offered to manage city-acquired properties in these neighborhoods with plans to eventually demolish the properties and build flood-mitigation projects in their place.

The Houston-Galveston Area Council has allocated Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds to Friendswood for the damage it received from Hurricane Harvey. The total to Friendswood is $2.76 million for buyouts and acquisitions and $2.69 million for infrastructure projects, according to a city memo.

Friendswood will use that money with Galveston County to acquire flood-prone structures in Frenchman’s Creek and Deepwood and potentially turn the area in to a park with flood control structures, according to previous reports.

On Aug. 5, the city put out a request for proposals for a company to manage the acquired projects. Only one proposal was received, officials said.

“It has been a little difficult. Most people didn’t wanna touch it,” Fire Marshal Brian Mansfield said, noting the GLO has several stipulations for the work most companies do not want to deal with.

With few takers, the council voted to allow the city to negotiate down the cost of contracting the sole request-for-proposal respondent and enter an agreement if it makes sense for the city.

“We’re committed to getting it done,” Kabiri said.

Finally, the city has invested $5.5 million in improving drainage in the Imperial Estates neighborhood. The Galveston County Consolidated Drainage District will pay for about $10 million of the project.

So far, contractors have terraced nearly 1.5 miles of Clear Creek frontage. The work prevented at least a few structures from flooding during Beta that otherwise would have, Kabiri said.
By Jake Magee

Editor, Bay Area & Pearland/Friendswood

Jake has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper. Today, he covers everything from aerospace to transportation to flood mitigation.