Bayou City

As Harvey Swells Houston-Area Lakes and Rivers, Many Face Evacuation Orders

Some people in the Houston area are facing evacuation orders because of flooding caused by Tropical Storm Harvey.
Some people in the Houston area are facing evacuation orders because of flooding caused by Tropical Storm Harvey. Flickr/Texas Military Department
Flood control districts have issued mandatory and voluntary evacuations across the Houston area, as Tropical Storm Harvey continues to pummel the city, and officials, fearing dam breaks, have begun controlled releases of the Barker and Addicks reservoirs.

The water releases were announced Sunday night, with some west Houston residents told to expect up to two feet of additional water in their homes. People living near either reserve were put under voluntary evacuation orders by the Harris County Flood Control District.

Both releases ran ahead of schedule, as rain from Harvey intensified again in the early hours of Monday. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initially said around 11 p.m. Sunday that it would begin Addicks releases at 2 a.m. Instead, releases started shortly after midnight.

The Barker reservoir — initially slotted for release sometime early Tuesday — was also under controlled release by Monday morning.


People near those reservoirs weren’t the only ones forced from their homes Sunday. The Meyerland, Bellaire and Willow Meadows neighborhoods in southwest Houston were scenes of high-water boat rescues, as houses well outside the 500-year floodplain were inundated. Dump trucks drove through the less-flooded streets, with offers to take people to higher land.
click to enlarge Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, right, speaks at the George R. Brown Convention Center on Monday afternoon, which the city had opened as a shelter to victims of Tropical Storm Harvey. The woman to his right translates Turner's words into Spanish. - PHOTO BY TEX KERSCHEN
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, right, speaks at the George R. Brown Convention Center on Monday afternoon, which the city had opened as a shelter to victims of Tropical Storm Harvey. The woman to his right translates Turner's words into Spanish.
Photo by Tex Kerschen
Farther southwest, meanwhile, parts of Sugar Land and Fort Bend County are under mandatory evacuation orders as the Brazos River looks set to crest at record-high levels. Everyone in Sienna Plantation, Conroe and Missouri City has been ordered to evacuate, with officials asking people in some areas to leave as soon as possible. The same applies for anyone living in low-lying areas near the Brazos River. (If you live in the area but don’t have the means to evacuate, call 211.)

The same applies for parts of Sugar Land near the Brazos River. The evacuation orders have come amid fears of broken levees that carry eerie echoes to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Bay City is being evacuated, with up to ten feet of water expected downtown. So is Dickinson, which had received several feet of flooding by Sunday. Officials are suggesting people who live near Lake Conroe in Montgomery County also leave the area because of releases and floods from the lake. And Pasadena and Seabrook will be under curfew Monday night.

Portions of Brazoria County are also under orders, with KHMX reporting an escape route has been set up from SH 35 to SH 71 to I-10. “THERE ARE NO OTHER EVACUATION ROUTES OUT OF BRAZORIA COUNTY,” the local CBS radio affiliate warned.


Galveston announced mid-Monday morning it would use aircraft to rescue people from flooded parts of the island. Airlifts began at noon and run to Scholes International Airport, near Moody Gardens.

This situation is developing rapidly, with more voluntary or mandatory evacuations possible. If you have any uncertainty about whether you should leave, contact local authorities.
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Stephen Paulsen is a journalist and native Houstonian. He writes about crime, food, drugs, urban planning and extremists of all kinds. He covers local news for Houston Press and cannabis policy for Leafly.