Army Corps Predicted Houston Flooding LawsuitsMarch 8, 2018 |
by Sierra Darville
A report determined that the Army Corps of Engineers knew of possible lawsuits from homeowners living near reservoirs in west Houston, Texas but that residents had a slim chance of winning if the areas experience any mass flooding.
According to the Associated Press, the Corps decided not to retrofit the Addicks and Barker reservoirs when the report was made over two decades ago, examining the liability of both upstream and downstream flooding.
The Corps’ 1995 report said the Addicks and Barker Dams were built in the 1940s to hold back storm runoff and protect the area from downstream flooding.
Officials believed the likelihood of a storm causing a significant amount of damage was slim and stuck with their decision not to fix the aging dams.
More than 9,000 homes were damaged by floods when Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Aug. 25, 2017, the Associated Press reported.
The Houston Chronicle said reservoirs were being forced to hold back increasing amounts of water, while decreasing the amount that could be safely released.
The report suggested that the Corps look at other options to prevent “increased draining into the reservoirs…and to make sure [residents and future homeowners are] put on notice that they are in a reservoir.”
These steps would make it less likely that the federal government would be held liable in a “takings lawsuit,” according to the report.
These options were suggested, the report said, because “Protracted litigation [could] be more costly in man hours than the claim itself.”
Daniel Charest, co-lead attorney on the case, told the Chronicle that the Corps showed a “rather than pay now, we’ll pay later,” attitude.
The Chronicle also reported that many homeowners and would-be land buyers had no idea their homes were built in a reservoir.
However, Corps officials told the Chronicle they have often held workshops and seminars on educating homeowners on the risks of living near dams in the past.
To read the Corps’ full report, click here.