Lawsuits Blame Government for Houston Flooding in Hurricane Harvey

Lawsuits are mounting against the Army Corps of Engineers and the government over the flooding in Houston. A week after Hurricane Harvey hit, some residents filed a class-action lawsuit blaming governmental mismanagement of the two dams on the west side of Houston.

Water was released from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs and the massive floodwaters flowed through Houston’s main watershed, the Buffalo Bayou. The earthen dams from the two reservoirs straddle Interstate 20 and are about 20 miles upstream from downtown Houston.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was forced to increase the release rate to 13,000 cubic feet per second compared to its normal rate of 2,000 CFS. It was necessary to cut the risk of the collapse of the dams, something that would have been even more catastrophic than it was to Houston. Last year, the Corps said if the dams were to fail, they would cause an estimated $60 billion damage to downtown Houston, the Houston Ship Channel and 21 hospitals and 54 research institutions in the Texas Medical Center.

A Houston-based law firm filed suit against the Harris County Flood Control District and the city of Houston.

“Each plaintiff named in the petition owned property that was not flooding after Hurricane Harvey sat over Harris County on Saturday and Sunday, but only began flooding when the Harris County Flood Control District and the City of Houston aided in the release of water from the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs. After the release, each property took on several feet of flood water,” the firm said in a statement.

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