The Bayridge neighborhood steeped in floodwater for four days after the deluge of Hurricane Harvey, and neighbors soaked in a belief that League City officials did nothing to prevent the catastrophe.
Meanwhile, city officials say they have had to balance controlling rumors with showing compassion for residents with damaged homes and raw feelings in this older neighborhood of small, modest homes surrounded by newer, more upscale subdivisions.
About 7,700 homes in many different League City neighborhoods were damaged by flooding. That’s about 23 percent of the city’s residences, Assistant City Manager Bo Bass said.
Of the 7,700 homes, 1,450 had major damage with at least 18 inches of water inside, Bass said.
Although the flood inundated many neighborhoods, residents of the Bayridge subdivision, which is just west of state Highway 146, say the city should have done more to protect them.
THE PUMP RUMOR
The storm drains in Bayridge were already full of standing water by the morning of Aug. 26, resident Sarah Muska-Palmer said. The flooding in League City started about midnight and intensified in the early hours of Aug. 27.
One rumor circulating on social media was that the city did not turn on a pump in Bayridge or that a pump was malfunctioning, but the truth is, there’s not a pump in the neighborhood, Bass said.
“It’s a misunderstanding,” Bass said. “There’s a lift station there for sanitary sewage, but it’s not a pump station.”
The city plans to hire an engineering firm to analyze its drainage during the flood, Bass said.
Bass and a crew did go to a levee on Gum Bayou bordering the subdivision Aug. 30 with a couple of new generators and a couple of new pumps to drain water, he said. They laid 6-inch pipes and worked through the afternoon to pump water out.
“We set it up, and it aided in it going down,” Bass said.
Gum Bayou drains into Dickinson Bayou, which reached record levels during the late August floods. When Gum Bayou couldn’t drain into Dickinson Bayou, the retention pond in Bayridge filled and pressure on the one-way flapper valve between the pond and the bayou kept water from flowing out, Bass said.
The water couldn’t drain because the bayou was too high, Bass said.
Residents insist the neighborhood had drainage problems before Hurricane Harvey, and that the city has ignored Bayridge for years.
“We feel like the city overlooks our neighborhood because the houses are older and not as big and nice as the rest of the area,” Muska-Palmer said. “Not to mention, we have no HOA to help speak up for us.”
The perceived neglect angers resident Jacquelin Pruden Gray, who has lived in Bayridge since 1995.
“It was brought up two years there was a great potential of this happening,” she said. “We were turned into a fish bowl.”
During Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, the Bayridge neighborhood didn’t flood, Pruden Gray said.
“Everyone else flooded,” she said. “But Bayridge was high and dry.”
What changed was more development built around the neighborhood, Pruden Gray said. The nearby subdivisions MarBella and Hidden Lakes were built without additional drainage, hurting Bayridge, she said.
Mayor Pat Hallisey met with Bayridge residents Sunday to let them know they weren’t forgotten and they weren’t the only ones hurting after the disaster, he said.
Resident Mary Heard-Patterson thought the mayor was trying to fix things, she said, but she is not certain city officials are explaining things well.
“We just want answers as to why, and we want it fixed so it doesn’t happen again,” she said.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS
But flooding on this scale was a disaster no one predicted.
The neighborhood has a small levee to prevent a surge of water from tidal flooding, Bass said.
The flooding from Hurricane Harvey, however, was from rainfall.
“The retention pond was designed for a 100-year flood event,” Bass said.
The late August flood was greater than that and greater than a 500-year flood prediction. The 100-year elevation of Clear Creek at the point where Interstate 45 crosses it is at 12.4 feet, and the 500-year elevation is 15.2 feet, Bass said.
“On Aug. 29, at 10:47 a.m., it was 16.51 feet,” Bass said.
It is difficult for people to comprehend the infrequent odds of such an epic flood, and it’s harder to prepare for one, he said. Governments don’t usually pay for expensive protective measures with such odds.
“It’s just math and money,” Bass said. “It was an event nobody has designed for.”