What happens if you love, love, love your neighborhood, but Mother Nature has thrown a few nasty curveballs? When it comes to the residents of Meyerland, they're using every trick in the toolbox to rebuild with resilience, aided by initiatives at the grassroots, city, state and federal levels.
The rewards are there for those who make the effort. With proximity to the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center; walking distance to Godwin Park and five star Kolter Elementary, a foreign language magnet; and families who have lived in the neighborhood for decades; there's no shortage of reasons to stay.
"They’re rooted there," says real estate broker Susan Brock of Brock & Foster Real Estate. "The family I’ve been married to, they‘ve been here 47 years; they know the stores, they use the same lawn service and the same exterminator, it’s hard to leave."
We checked in with Jeff Peters, a man who wears many hats including serving as board member and treasurer for the Brays Bayou Association — which includes representatives from several Super Neighborhoods — about what's happening on the ground and in Austin and Washington to make these neighborhoods more resilient during extreme weather events.
Monthly meetings of the Brays Bayou Association include updates about efforts by Texas State Representative Sarah Davis (District 134) with Senate Bill 6 (disaster response and debris removal), SB7 (funding) and SB8 (creation of a statewide flood plan), as well as House Bill 274 (funding), HB678 (post disaster tax relief), HB1296 (disaster case management) and HB1299 (expenditure database). Other reporting includes news from Harris County Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis and a social impact study about to be released by Rice University.
"The president of Brays Bayou Association is in Washington, DC this week advocating for federal dollars for specifically Brays Bayou as well as other watersheds in the area; there are federal efforts as well as grassroots efforts to make Meyerland more resilient," says Peters. "It's kind of happening behind the scenes."
Peters also cites the Harris County Flood Control District, which has accelerated completion of work on projects that were begun almost 30 years ago. One of those initiatives, C-11 Project Bays, calls for the widening of 21 miles of Brays Bayou from the Houston Ship Channel to Fondren, and from West Houston Center Boulevard to Highway 6. The $480 million project includes replacing or modifying 32 bridges and excavating four stormwater detention basins that will be able to hold 3.5 billion gallons of stormwater.
Complementing those efforts is the Willow Waterhole Prairie Management Area, a multi-year, $550 million project that will reduce flooding risks in the Brays Bayou watershed. Like Project Bays, it too is a cooperative project between the Harris County Flood Control District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
For Susan Brock, it's not just longstanding residents who want to live in Meyerland. Among her clients are several Houston Texans who are attracted to the area's proximity to NRG Stadium. She estimates that more than 80 percent of Meyerland homes experienced some sort of flooding [during Tropical Storm Harvey], though to different degrees, but that two years later the streets are bursting with new construction. Between '60s era homes that were lifted above grade to renovations to brand new construction, it's rewarding to see homeowners finally able to come home.
Brock says potential buyers will be able to determine flood history for renovated properties in Meyerland and other areas because of the seller's disclosure. But it's more risky when it comes to rental properties.
"If you had a home that flooded in Harvey, you don’t have to tell the renter it flooded, there’s no disclosures," says Brock. "If asked you have to tell [potential renters]. But there’s no forced disclosure of flooding for tenants. That’s really tricky."
Flood history, of course, is not a problem when it comes to new construction, especially when innovative techniques are built in. Brock points to Texan Development and Construction, a builder that has just finished construction on a new property at 9622 Cedarhurst that has all the bells and whistles one would want to fight flood events. The 5,465 square foot home uses 12mm AquaGuard Gunmetal Matte Water-Resistant flooring, a wood-based laminate floor with a double coated seal that is water resistant and provides lifetime protection against household spills, splashes and pet accidents for up to 30 hours.
The garage ceilings are almost 20 feet in height so that homeowners could install car lifts, should they want added protection for vehicles during heavy rains.
When it comes to statistics, the odds have no memory. So if a home is built in a 100-year floodplain, there is a one percent chance of flooding during that year. When the calendar turns to the next year, those odds remain exactly the same. With climate change, it's possible that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local governments might one day reevaluate risks to 20-year or even 10-year floodplains.
In building 9622 Cedarhurst, Texan Development and Construction built the home two feet, one inch above the 500-year floodplain, which equates to about three feet, five inches above the 100-year floodplain.
The five or six bedroom home at 9622 Cedarhurst has been listed by Brock & Foster Real Estate for $1.475 million. Explore it for yourself at an upcoming open house on May 26 from 2-6 p.m. Sunday.