In June of 2001, Tropical Storm Allison wreaked havoc on Houston, including the flooding of many residences within Sections 5 and 6. Following the event, Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Program (TSARP) was initiated by FEMA to update the Federal Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) based on extensive surveying and modeling of all of the watersheds in Harris County, including White Oak Bayou (W-100).
As part of this program, owners of flooded homes were approached by the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) and offered a “buy out” where the homes were purchased and subsequently demolished. Seven lots in Section 5 and five lots in Section 6 were bought out. Subsequently HCFCD approached adjacent owners to take over the shared maintenance of these lots, with only three lots in Section 5 taking this option.
Over these years, there has been minimal maintenance of these lots with periodic mowing and occasional removal of dead trees. During the springtime, weeds typically reach two feet, or taller, on the lots on Shelterwood. Where trees have been removed exposed stumps can been seen. Citrus fruit from the trees on these lots fall to the ground and rot. Heavy trash is often times anonymously placed on the lots a week or two before heavy trash pickup. Lots that back West 11th Street on Pineshade have wooden fences that are in disrepair and have vegetation that blocks the sidewalks. The City of Houston routinely places violation notices at these lots. More than a year ago, a vehicle knocked out the power to Section 5 when it took out an electrical pole and chain link fence at the southeast corner of West 11th Street. A request was made to HCFCD to repair the damages, but no action has taken place to-date.
There has been discussion among neighbors of whether the buyout program was effective and whether these lots should be sold so that houses may be built, the lots be properly maintained and the properties returned to the tax base. Other ideas were to have them adopted as “pocket parks” by Harris County or the City of Houston.
FEMA Lots – Owner Listed as Harris County Flood Control at the Harris County Appraisal District Site