Flood victims demand answers at Bear Creek community meeting

HOUSTON – Whether to rebuild and when appeared the biggest question raised Thursday by residents of a neighborhood flooded by overflow from the Addicks Reservoir during Hurricane Harvey.

A couple hundred residents of the Bear Creek community attended a town hall-style meeting, hosted by Rep. Ted Poe, a Republican in Texas' 2nd Congressional District.

Poe said the goal was to get as many questions answered, regarding recovery from Harvey. Harvey, for some in the Bear Creek area, marked the third flood in two years.

Representatives from FEMA, SBA, Harris County Flood Control District, Army Corps of Engineers, and other county agencies addressed questions. A primary concern raised by many was whether to take part in a buyout program for homes impacted by flooding.

At the moment, there is no funding to purchase a set number of homes in areas prone to flooding. Officials said they are awaiting funds to arrive, a process that could take months.

Residents also heard from the Army Corps of Engineers, when Rep. Poe read a question involving the agency.

"Is anything going to be done in the reservoirs so floods won't happen in the future," Poe asked, reading from a question raised by an audience member.

The question sparked fireworks about what the Army Corps of Engineers knew about flooding potential and whether communities like Bear Creek can be spared from flooding brought on by swollen Barker and Addicks Reservoirs in the future.

Col. Lars Zetterstrom, commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston, addressed the matter. Col. Zetterstrom said officials are exploring several possibilities regarding flood prevention.

"Inside the reservoirs is a lot of dirt and so if dirt could be removed inside the reservoirs we could increase capacity of the reservoirs, themselves," he said, adding officials also are looking into the possibility of constructing a new reservoir, or deepening other watersheds. The Army Corps oversees both Barker and Addicks reservoirs.

Those in attendance questioned whether the meeting gave them answers.

"My question is why'd the Corps of Engineers hadn't worked on the levee in 70 years," said Bob Parten.

"I'm not really satisfied with the answers because there's talk on their website about a buyout and now he's telling us no funds," said Elizabeth Burnham.

Rep. Poe told the audience Congress is working two more relief bills to help Texas, and other states affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

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