Texas Flooding: Spring 2015, — May 29, 2015 9:27 — 0 Comments

ON-SITE REPORT: Houston, Texas, May 28, 2015

Pool in Houston neighborhood

The Marilyn Estates neighborhood of southwestern Houston was devastated by flood waters on Tuesday night. But if you drive past the neighborhood now looking for pools of water, you won’t find any. The water has receded, and the extent of damage is evident from the trash heaps piled at the curb in front of home after home. Mountains of damp carpet, limp drywall, soggy mattresses and other personal possessions lie in wait for the trash man.

Absent the trash, it would be hard to tell that a flood just happened here. At least from the outside. The exterior brick and limestone look fine. The streets are clear of standing water. The flowers are still blooming. But inside is a mess.

It is surprising how much damage even a little water can do. One example I came across in Houston is a home that had “only” three inches of water inside, yet the drywall was already being torn out about two feet above the floor. Drywall acts like a sponge and absorbs water, so it has to be removed above the high-water mark. And you can hear everywhere the buzzing of high-powered fans and dehumidifiers as homeowners dry out and clean up. It can take a week or longer to completely dry out a property, and that has to be done before reconstruction can start.

Areas of Houston flood frequently, and the streets themselves serve as a conveyor of storm water. But in an extreme flood event, such as what happened this week, the bayous and streams and streets cannot handle it—although in one case, at least, an empty swimming pool actually helped.

A couple I met had been the process of putting a new pool in their backyard. The concrete form had been poured and was awaiting the next phase of tile and topcoat. That hole in the ground was lower than the elevation of the house and swallowed up water that could have gone inside. The homeowner said, “The pool saved us.” It did, but they still had three inches of water inside. But most of us aren’t building pools, so knowing what to do in case of a flood is another way to protect yourself and your property.

The I.I.I.’s Catastrophe Response Coordinator, Lynne McChristian is in Texas to help with the recovery process. This is the first of her reports on what she is seeing.

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