Decision to open floodgates that ravaged Kingwood area comes under scrutiny

By Nick Monacelli , Dawn Jorgenson - Web - News Editor

KINGWOOD, Texas - There are two things growing in the Kingwood area: garbage and questions.

"This is part of my house," Judy Rittenhouse said as she tore apart her home Monday. "This is some of the debris that has been ripped out."

The question that seems to be growing is, did it have to be this bad?

Judy and George Rittenhouse's home, like many around Houston, had to be gutted. Judy said she's grateful that her home is still standing, unlike many others in the Kingwood area that washed away after floodgates at Lake Conroe were opened.

The water rushed in at nearly 80,000 cubic feet per second. It was powerful enough to take entire homes with it.

"There should have been more coordination upstream, the mathematics done, not a release that you have a wave of water coming through," George Rittenhouse said.

The San Jacinto River Authority made the decision to open the floodgates. It's one that will now come under intense scrutiny. Rep. Dan Huberty is calling for an investigation.

"The San Jacinto River Authority (members) are appointed," Huberty said. "(There needs to be) some discussions about this. Someone needs to explain how we got here.”

Councilman Dave Martin has taken it a step further, insinuating an alternate motive -- that some areas are being protected over others.

"The protocols for who opens the dam -- (are they) looking out for their own interests or everyone in the Greater Houston area?” Martin said.

Huberty also pointed out that attempts to prevent something like this from happening were never made.

"This goes back to many years ago -- talked about dredging this lake -- look what it cost us now,” Huberty said.

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