Misty Dawsey and her husband, Jarrod, had just finished renovating the day care they own in Dickinson, ruined by flooding during Hurricane Harvey, when it flooded again Tuesday — courtesy of the silt-filled bayou on their property.
The couple sank nearly $400,000 from recovery grants and their own money into Excellence Academy Child Care and Learning Center’s repairs, but no amount of cash could change the fact that Gum Bayou cuts through the land their building is on, east of the city, Misty Dawsey said. When it rained more than 3 inches in Dickinson on Tuesday morning, the flood-prone bayou, which a city council member said hasn’t been cleaned out in years, overflowed and flooded the couple’s business, Misty Dawsey said.
“Everything you can do, we did it,” she said, referring to the renovations. “It just comes down to the bayou and the drainage; it wasn’t the rain itself. We had already been looking for a new location anyway.”
The day care, where there are nearly 100 children enrolled, took in more than 1 foot of water in all of its classrooms and the yard surrounding the building was completely flooded, Misty Dawsey said.
“We couldn’t even drive onto the property,” she said.
The couple managed to salvage furniture, equipment and files with the help of quick thinking and plastic containers — lessons learned from Harvey, which struck a year ago — and they were able to temporarily move their business to a church down the road. But Dawsey’s worried about the bayou that will be there waiting for them when they return, she said.
“The bayou fills up and there’s just no way to avoid it,” she said. “Before Harvey, we didn’t flood like this. Not once. But I think Harvey washed away a lot of the soil and now our own yard is lower and we can’t handle a heavy rain anymore.”
The Dickinson and Gum bayous haven’t been dredged since Hurricane Ike, Dickinson City Council Member Louis Decker said, and the silt and debris that have built up inside them, making it easy for properties nearby to flood. Hurricane Ike struck 10 years ago today. Dredging is necessary, but the city doesn’t have jurisdiction over the two bayous he said. The city already has filed dredging applications with relevant authorities, but no action has yet been taken.
In August, the city accepted a federal grant worth nearly $2 million that will go toward cleaning debris and sediment out of a 3-mile swath of Dickinson Bayou. The timeline for that project hasn’t been finalized yet, said Gabby Bernal, management assistant for the city.
That project will be complemented by a second, future removal project the city is planning for the tributaries that flow into Dickinson Bayou.
“All the broken limbs and grass, if that’s in the ditches and floats to bayous from the tributaries, it causes a big problem,” Decker said. “All that silt and junk in there, it’s got to be dredged out.”