Residents that live near the Addicks and Barker Reservoir are now coming to terms with the fact that in big enough rainstorms, their neighborhoods are actually designed to flood. And nobody told them about it.
When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the two reservoirs known as Addicks and Barker on what was then mostly empty prairie, their chief goal was to protect the center of the city of Houston, 20 miles downstream.
The system worked well when the reservoirs were surrounded by prairie and rice fields. However in recent years, development has encroached from all sides. Today, about 14,000 homes are located inside them. During Harvey, when more floodwater accumulated behind the dams than ever before, 5,138 of those homes flooded.
In the 1990’s, Dunbar, an engineer and lawyer who has long consulted on water issues, said officials told him they felt uncomfortable allowing so much development in the reservoirs’ flood pool. Now, residents are dealing with the aftermath in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
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