Spring, Klein recover from flood damage along creeks

Cypress Creek reached record levels at several locations, including this bridge on Stuebner Airline Road, in late August.

Cypress Creek reached record levels at several locations, including this bridge on Stuebner Airline Road, in late August.

Spring, Klein recover from flood damage along creeksLocal officials are beginning to assess the damage Hurricane Harvey has caused in Spring and Klein, while business owners, schools and community groups strategize to recover and restore damaged buildings in the months ahead.


An average of about 30 inches of rain was measured at several points along Cypress Creek by Harris County Flood Control District’s Flood Warning System from Aug. 25-30—more than twice the amount that fell during the “Tax Day flood” in April 2016, according to county statistics.


“If there’s any good news, it’s that we didn’t get it any worse than we did,” said Jim Robertson, chairman of the Cypress Creek Greenway Project, which aims to connect green spaces along the creek and mitigate flooding.


Although many areas of Spring and Klein did not flood during August’s storm, areas near Cypress Creek and Spring Creek flooded, resulting in damage to businesses, homes  and county and community buildings. District 1 of the Harris County sheriff’s office reported close to 2,000 water rescues within its boundaries between Hwy. 249 and I-45.


On Sept. 2, ABC 13 reported 185,149 homes statewide have been damaged or destroyed by flooding related to Hurricane Harvey.


A number of homes were damaged in Spring and Klein, including some in neighborhoods such as Inverness Forest and Northwood Pines, which were evacuated during and after the storm.


“It could be a milestone event in the sense that when you get a catastrophe like this, you have to evaluate things,” Robertson said.



County offices flooded


The Harris County Courthouse annex on Cypresswood Drive, which also houses a Precinct 4 constable’s office station and the HCSO District 1 station, was a total loss, Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said.


“At the Cypresswood station, anything under 4 feet is wet and damaged,” Herman said.


Harris County Engineer John Blount said on Sept. 5 the Cypresswood Drive annex facilities will relocate to other spaces throughout the county, but additional information about the facility was not available as of press time


The Precinct 4 central patrol fleet is temporarily stationed at Faithbridge Church, about 1.5 miles from the annex location, Herman said.


HCSO District 1 Capt. Jay Coons said his administrative offices have moved to sheriff’s office storefronts at the Northwest Assistance Ministries building on Kuykendahl Road and Fallbrook Drive.


An administrative service center for Precinct 4 is planned on 172 acres of county-owned land west of Hwy. 249 at Holderrieth Road in Tomball at an unspecified future date, county officials said last year. However, there are no immediate plans to build a replacement for damaged law enforcement facilities there, Coons said.


“Harris County Commissioners Court will make a determination on the future of the building and relocation of services if necessary,” Coons said.


Barbara Bush Branch Library, also located on Cypresswood Drive, received damage and must be renovated, Branch Manager Clara Maynard said. An estimate for the amount of damage was not available as of press time


“We’ll need new sheetrock, carpet, furniture as well as a new AC and perhaps a new elevator,” she said. “There’s a lot of work to be done.”



Spring, Klein recover from flood damage along creeksSchools assess damage


Spring and Klein ISDs were closed for more than a week during and after the storm, while school facilities served as shelters when flooding began to force people from their homes, district officials said. Although SISD recorded no major facility damage from the storm, one elementary school in KISD will be closed for renovations due to water damage, officials said.


“We had 25 facilities that had minor water intrusion from roof leaks and wind-blown rain,” said Judy Rimato, KISD associate superintendent for communications and planning. “Lemm Elementary sustained water damage from rising water that will require a major restoration.”


KISD Superintendent Bret Champion said the elementary school—located on Joanleigh Drive—flooded with 6-8 inches of water. Lemm students will be housed in a wing of Klein Cain High School on Spring Cypress Road this school year while repairs are completed, Rimato said. The high school opened in August.


One SISD school—Anderson Elementary School on Lynngate Drive—sustained damage to its gymnastics room floor, SISD Communications Director Karen Garrison said.


One week after the storm, the SISD Education Foundation’s Hurricane Relief Fund was halfway to its goal of raising $50,000 for families and staff in the district, she said. 


KISD has also set up a fund for family and staff, which allows donors to specify the school or department to which they would like to donate.


Similar flooding in April 2016 closed schools in both districts for a week, leading schools to implement new systems that helped communication during this year’s event.


“We implemented a text system whereby we could notify key personnel simultaneously of decisions that impact many departments,” Rimato said.


On Aug. 30, Mike Morath, Texas Education Agency’s commissioner of education, announced all school districts and charter schools that fall within the area of Gov. Greg Abbott’s disaster proclamation for Hurricane Harvey can apply for waivers which would exempt them from making up missed days. Both KISD and SISD have indicated they will apply for those waivers. Students in KISD missed six days of school, and students in SISD missed nine days.



Spring, Klein recover from flood damage along creeksCommunity recovery


Chambers of commerce in the area have begun to accept donations to help businesses recover from damage and losses during the August storm.


“The most critical need will be more immediate … and we will work hard to serve [small businesses],” said Barbara Thomason, president of the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce.


Businesses located near Cypresswood Drive and Stuebner Airline Road were hit hard by flooding, including Italian restaurant Hasta la Pasta, owner Alan Smith said.


“We got about 3, 3 1/2 feet of water,” Smith said. “It was a pretty devastating thing.”


Smith said most of the interior of the restaurant will have to be replaced, but he is waiting to see if the appliances are salvageable. He said could not estimate on how much repairs will cost, but he hopes to reopen by early November.


The Houston Northwest Chamber Foundation—a nonprofit organization that works with HNWCC—has set up a donation drive for local business owners, Thomason said. She said the funds raised by the foundation will provide immediate relief to business owners as they wait for funding from the federal Small Business Administration.


Thomason said the chamber has also registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to become part of a communication network that disseminates information in response to emergencies.


Buildings in the Cypress Creek Cultural District on Cypresswood Drive also sustained heavy damage, with The Centrum performance hall taking on about 2 feet of water.


Cypress Creek Foundation for the Arts and Community Enrichment, which holds most of its events at The Centrum, is evaluating how to reschedule or find new locations for concerts planned in the 2017-18 season, said Nancy Decker, who coordinates performances for Cypress Creek FACE.


“I’m hoping that we can find alternate [performance] locations,” Decker said.


Water damaged the venue’s performance area and equipment throughout the building, she said.


“We think the Steinway, which is 20 years old now, is survivable,” Decker said. We’ve lost computers, [but] everything can be replaced.”


Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts was also damaged by flood water, according to a statement released by Director of Development Clara Lewis.


Lewis could not specify the cost of the damage, but she said the museum plans to open again in the fall after undergoing repairs. The museum began collecting donations for the project in the week after the storm.


Bruce Frogge, senior pastor at Cypress Creek Christian Church, which houses The Centrum, said although some parts of the church were damaged, it may be able to hold services in the church’s activity room in the weeks following the flood, as that area did not sustain major damage, he said.


“We’re fine. It doesn’t look like we’re fine, but there are too many people out there that don’t know what direction is up, and that’s where people need to put their attention and energies,” Frogge said.

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By Vanessa Holt

A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of the paper in March 2017.


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