September 23-24

Hurricane Harvey

Our Role During The Storm

The Harris County Flood Control District’s responsibilities during an emergency storm event includes monitoring and measuring rainfall amounts and water levels in the bayous and creeks, as well as communication and coordination with local partner agencies to advise the public of potential flooding that could result.

The Harris County Flood Control District Flood Operations and Hurricane Response teams were activated on Wednesday, August 23, and remains in operations conducting immediate storm response tasks at this time. This team closely monitors rainfall trends and check the gages that measure rainfall amounts and water levels in bayous and creeks. The data that Flood Control District engineers and scientists collects during a storm event allows them to predict the location and magnitude of the rain’s impact and to advise the public and local officials of areas that may be affected by flooding.

In the early hours of Sunday, August 27, the Flood Control District watched all 22 main channels or bayous in the county spill over their banks, meaning that each watershed was at risk of severe flooding. Never before have all the bayous in Harris County flooded at the same time.

Because of magnitude of rainfall over Harris County caused by Harvey, the Flood Control District staff, comprised of engineers, meteorologists, scientists, surveyors, and other technical specialists, worked around the clock to calculate accurate flooding projections by using hydraulic models and rainfall assessments. Federal and local agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who manages and operates Addicks and Barker Dams, worked hand-in-hand throughout the storm to develop and distribute accurate information to the millions of Harris County residents endangered by the storm event.

Even before the rains stopped, the Harris County Flood Control District began planning and working to recover of our county’s drainage infrastructure:

  • Crews of surveyors began going out into the flooded areas August 30 to gather data on high water marks from bayous and creeks. This critical information feeds their storm models and allows the engineers to calibrate for more accurate flood predictions.
  • As the water receded, crews have begun to assess damages to flood control infrastructure, to conduct infrastructure repairs as necessary, and to remove new storm debris blocking the channels. (Debris removal was a priority before the storm as well.) This step is crucial to allow creeks and bayous to drain more quickly without impediments. 
  • Other crews fanned out to repair stormwater gages damaged during Harvey floods. These gages transmit to the engineers and hydrologists important information such as rainfall amounts and how fast the bayous rise.

In addition to maintaining constant communication with Harris County’s inquiring public during the 5-day storm event, the Harris County Flood Control District Community Services Division responded to hundreds of agency requests for data, as well as thousands of media and public inquiries during Hurricane Harvey, providing information related to rainfall, flooding, emergency services, and resource centers in the area.