Officials aim to prevent repeat flooding at library
Although the Barbara Bush Library has reopened after Hurricane Harvey in 2017 when the library received feet of floodwater, Harris County Flood Control District is working to ensure the library will not flood again.
During the latest meeting of the Barbara Bush Library Friends, a nonprofit organization with the mission of improving and volunteering for the Barbara Bush Library, Harris County Precinct 4 representatives told the crowd about plans for floodplains and flood prevention for the library and surrounding areas.
Will Sherman, property manager for HCFCD, said HCFCD is deciding where to build detention basins to mitigate flooding. In August 2018, HCFCD received approval for a $2.5 billion bond to mitigate flooding and upgrade flood prevention methods in the greater Houston area.
Sherman said HCFCD is currently working on floodplain preservation by buying undeveloped land and buying homes from residents in floodplains if they volunteer to do sell. Sherman said there are no mandatory buyout programs in the nearby area at this moment. The area surrounding Barbara Bush Library is in both the 100-year and 500-year floodplains.
“A lot of times we get the funds from FEMA and we have certain criteria for when we can or can’t purchase,” he said. “A lot of times if it’s bought with FEMA there’s never going to be anything built on that property. Of course, we’re obtaining right of way for future detention basins.”
Areas directly surrounding the Barbara Bush Library, specifically the back of the library closest to Cypress Creek and in nearby neighborhoods, tend to have ponding, Sherman said. Ponding causes streets to overflow and take longer to drain than usual, carrying floodwaters even farther toward nearby bayous.
Sherman said the implementation of flood basins will significantly improve flood prevention in the area, and that HCFCD and HCED do not plan to build other structures on land bought. Sherman said Harris County is currently trying to buy undeveloped land in previously flooded areas.
“As of today, we have more than 6,000 acres of property and 300 acres of detention basins in Cypress Creek,” he said. “It’s kind of an older area as far as the infrastructure goes so we’ve had quite a few failures (during heavy rain events). We’re working with the precinct to be more proactive.”
Sherman said floodplains in the area will be updated and upgraded for flooding within the next two to three years for Little Cypress Creek and Cypress Creek watersheds. He said the process of specific projects, such as flood basin building and storm water drainage fixes, have yet to be implemented.
Some residents have expressed concern over two apartment complexes planned near Cypress Creek and Pillot Gully in The Vintage. Nearby homes, businesses and the cultural district experienced flooding during Hurricane Harvey.
“I know there’s some controversial projects around Vintage Park, so we’re definitely working in the future to try to try to get everything that we can before it’s developed. That way, at the very least, it can be turned into park land.”