22 October 2007

Real live Spring Branch content

Last week I called the Harris County Flood Control Precinct office and asked for information regarding flooding in my new neighborhood. I have looked at a few houses and I have a couple of houses in mind, and I am worried about potential flooding. There was an article a couple weeks ago in the Chronicle Memorial/Spring Branch section mentioning Buttermilk Creek and a particular county employee by name, Fred Garcia. That waterway goes a couple blocks from one of the houses at the top of my list, so I was eager to speak with Mr. Garcia if at all possible.

It turned out to be an extremely informative conversation, and I found him to be very helpful. If you look at the   Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Project site you will find a complete set of elevation maps for the county, including Spring Branch, including Buttermilk Creek, including the exact block and lot the house I am interested in sits upon. What I did not know until I spoke with Mr. Garcia, is that if you zoom that map enough the actual elevation above sea level contours are posted on that map. I told him I liked the flooding characteristics of the property there far more than up to the north in the area of the Brickhouse Gulley, and he said that the maps do not tell you everything. There is natural drainage for one thing, which you can read off the maps. But then there is the engineering drainage, where the sewers are not big enough to contain a torrential rainfall. When the houses in this neighborhood flood, it is not usually because Buttermilk Creek (or the other natural channels) overflow, so much as the intakes right on the block get overtaxed.

He told me further that this is publically documented, that the seller is obligated to disclose if water has ever been inside the house. And if there was no water inside the house during Tropical Storm Allison, that property is an excellent risk indeed. Still you must get flood insurance, and you have to be emotionally prepared that something freaky could possibly happen to you.

I moved here from Louisiana a couple of years ago, and I don't recall ever having such a helpful discussion with a government employee back there. My house hunting continues in the new neighborhood here, and I don't think I will be bashful about calling the government if I come up with any more questions. At the end of our conversation, he told me "do not hesitate to call back if you have any more questions."

1 comment:

jemecad said...

It is truly amazing how many friendly, competent public servants one finds in Texas. Quite different from New Orleans, I'd suspect -- pre- or post-Katrina. Dismal (although inadequate) would be my performance rating of the civil servants I had the misfortune of dealing with during my last eight years on Oahu. It
was quite rare to encounter one who both spoke understandable English and demonstrated any interest or competence in his or her job.

On the subject of rare, how many physicists named Craig Heldreth, formerly residing in Louisiana, do you suppose there are in this small world? Is your middle initial "G" by any chance? Perhaps you attended Cal and once aced a geophysics final in five minutes after never having attended a single lecture? So many questions.........


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About Craig

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Houston, Texas, United States
I have been living in the lovely neighborhood of Spring Branch in the great city of Houston since late in 2005. I started out with the idea of making this blog about my life in this neighborhood. That did not last long. Right now I am posting every five days on the alternating topics of literature, philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics. This project has been ongoing since July 27, 2010 and I believe it will continue for at least a few more months.