How They’re Avoiding Flooding Far Upstream from Downtown Houston

HOW THEY’RE AVOIDING FLOODING FAR UPSTREAM FROM DOWNTOWN HOUSTON How was developer Newland Communities able to lift the first cohort of 6,200 planned new homes out of the 100-year floodplain in Elyson, its Katy Prairie development just west of the Grand Pkwy. at FM 529? Easy: by raising the lots 1 ft. with dirt taken from other areas of the site. (An additional 12 to 15 in. of elevation came from the slab foundations on which the houses rest.) The fill allowed the company to obtain letters of map revision for more than 300 home lots in 2016 — and “to tell buyers, accurately, that their homes were not in the 100-year flood plain.” The results: “The company reported in September that Harvey had flooded streets in the development, but no water entered any of the 94 houses occupied at that time. The risk of flooding could increase, however, as more structures are built on the property.” [Houston Chronicle] Partial map of Elyson: Newland Communities

9 Comment

  • “The risk of flooding could increase, however, as more structures are built on the property.” …or as more structures are built upstream on manufactured elevation forcing water downstream.

  • Good idea having the roads double as canals. I mean if it rains and you need to pick up the kids from school, just break out the gondola and your rain slicker.

  • Right, until every single development surrounding Elyson treats Elyson as a downstream detention pond and elevates their structures just a tiny bit higher than the 12-15 inches. Then the official floodplain won’t matter.

  • I see FAIL all over this subdivision during & after the next big hurricane / tropical storm, flash flood,etc. What a sad, deluded joke foisted on unsuspecting home buyers ( who legally must do their own due diligence . ) Personally I’d raise my home by at least 5 feet – and gradually grade the lot to meet the elevated home. I have relatives in Meyerland ( where I grew up) and they’re rebuilding a new home – a mini McMansion- on a foundation 2-3 feet higher. I would have sold the lot- YES at a loss and move to somewhat higher or not as flooded area of town. . I’ve seen other homes in Meyerland completely rasied 8-10 feet higher- because Harvey exposed the long running FACT that the FEMA flood maps are OUTDATED: in some cases 10+ years. And we’re supposed to believe those clowns. Anyway, I understand people’s historic /emotional/familial ties to certain areas/neighborhoods; but this is insane and just asking for MORE suffering and pain.Because things are getting worse environment wise and certain areas are impacted way more than others. Meyerland / Bellaire / Westbury among them. I’d move out of those areas so fast.

  • 100 year flood plain, lol.

  • bocepus, all roads in the region are design to carry move water.

    As for the rest of the comments, it seems we have a flood event any everybody is a drainage expert. The current requirements to develop in the Katy Prairie are extremely strict. Many developers are staying away due to cost and the requirements.

    Developments that attempt to do work in this area have to put up a lot of capital with no guarantee the project will work and get approved. The rules for this area is not friendly to developers.

  • HappyGoLcuky,

    Almost all development is built this way. This is the standard way of doing development and home construction, even when the houses are not in the flood plain. Dig a pond, spread out the dirt which raises the lots, build houses. This is not a “sad, deluded joke foisted on unsuspecting home buyers.” Note the quote from the article:

    “Since Harris County updated its regulations governing new subdivisions in 2009, more than 75,000 single-family homes have been built in the county’s unincorporated areas. Of those, about 470 flooded during the hurricane.” That’s 0.6%. Certainly not desirable, but far from disastrous (for new homes only – obviously Harvey was incredibly disastrous for the city as a whole). I agree with kjb434 – everyone seems to be an expert these days. Nevermind the engineers and governmental agencies filled with PhD’s and Master’s degrees who develop the criteria.

  • Not friendly relative to what? “Unfriendly” would be banning development in the Katy Prairie altogether.

  • I concur with kjb434 and ARC. The person responsible for this marketing could’ve actually been quite a bit more aggressive in touting the efforts that this company (and all the others) put forth to comply with existing regulations.