Houston Chronicle Interviews Charles Irvine About First-Time Floods in Cypress

Flooding, Irvine, News & Blog

Charles Irvine was interviewed by the Houston Chronicle about recent flooding in the Cypress area. An excerpt, from the article, titled “Subdivision Never Flooded Until it Did, and Residents Want Answers: Cypress residents who once never worried of rising waters now live in fear,” is below. Read the full article on the Houston Chronicle’s website here. A PDF of the article is available here.

Excerpt:  Environmental lawyer Charles Irvine, who frequently consults with neighborhoods on flooding matters, senses rising frustration across the area and foresees a likely increase of improvised solutions such as “decorative” garden walls that may serve as mini-levees when waters rise. He faults those in leadership, including the flood control district, for not embracing the need for a more assertive approach to dealing with apparent weaknesses in the system, especially in those areas that recently have begun to flood but don’t have a history of doing so.

“When you have 6 or 8 inches of rain, you cannot always use the excuse of excessive rain amounts,” Irvine said. “What people want is honesty and transparency, not silence and willful blindness.”

Irvine said the regulations imposed on new development need to be enhanced in light of more – and more intense – storm systems. Likewise the mandatory review of construction plans should be much more rigorous, he said. He said his own reviews of such plans have revealed shoddy data, dubious hydrological modeling, and countless simple and “horrific” mistakes that somehow never were corrected.

What Irvine argues for most vigorously is a change in attitude. He believes local residents are willing to pass bond projects and endorse stricter controls if the payoff is a significantly more robust system of flood control.

“Why is it unreasonable to spend $10 billion on a flood control project when one flood alone causes $5 billion in damage?” he said.