Harris County activates emergency operations center for Harvey

By Click2Houston.com Staff , Phil Archer - Reporter , Syan Rhodes - Anchor/Reporter

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - Officials at Harris County Emergency Management are watching the radar and monitoring updates on Harvey as they come in from the National Weather Service.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said they're expecting flooding in the area.

The county is expecting a major rain event, meaning we'll likely see steady rain that hangs around.

Emmett said Harvey is expected to sit on our area until Monday, which means flooding is likely.

Officials anticipate 12-15 inches of rain in Harris County.

Emmett said the weather we've had of late proves helpful as we gear up for Harvey.

"There's good news in that we haven't had any rain in a while, so the reservoirs are empty. The watersheds are all in good shape, but if we get that amount of rain, over a very sustained period of time, then we're on the Gulf Coast and people are going to experience flooding," Emmett said.

The Harris County Flood Control District said crews are working to make sure all 153 flood gauges are ready to go -- among other tasks.

Flood preparations in place from Allison will help Medical Center

The Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world, is preparing to weather whatever comes as Tropical Depression Harvey moves toward the Texas coast.

In June 2001, Tropical Storm Allison inundated the Medical Center hospitals with 15 inches of rain falling in a single three-hour period, causing about $2 billion in damage.

WATCH: Lessons learned from Allison at Texas Medical Center

The Baylor Medical College and UTMB Health Science Center were flooded.

At Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, water filled the basement, flooding generators and knocking out power. Over 500 patients had be evacuated.

“We had to shut the entire institution down and we were out for seven weeks,” Tom Flanagan, chief operations officer for Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, said.

It was a disaster that changed building requirements for hospitals nationwide, and major improvements to Medical Center hospitals, flood-control infrastructure and training.

At Memorial Hermann, hospital generators are now installed four stories above ground. Below ground, the hospital has installed two watertight doors to seal off the basement in case of flooding. They are among the 75 watertight doors now installed throughout the Medical Center.

The hospital’s staff has also been organized and trained to respond quickly to flooding threats.

"Houston and the health care system in Houston are much better prepared today because of Allison,” Flanagan said.

The storm led to the Allison Project, which improved drainage around the Medical Center by redesigning the Harris Gulley, underground culverts that drain the Medical Center, and flood detention retention and mitigation projects along Braes Bayou that are still under construction.

As Harvey approaches the Texas coast, medical center managers will be watching the Rice University and Texas Medical Center Flood Alert System. It’s an online monitor created by Rice hydrologist Philip Bedient, Ph.D.

Bedient said the tens of millions of dollars in improvements can’t completely eliminate the threat of flooding to the Medical Center, but do provide a vast improvement over the system in place in 2001.

“The Medical Center should be in pretty good shape, assuming it doesn’t exceed the 500-year flood, which is 16 inches of rain in a day,” he said.

Greenspoint area residents brace for worst

Residents who live in the Greenspoint-area apartments that were flooded on Tax Day in April 2016 are bracing for the worst as Harvey approaches.

WATCH: Checking in on flood prone areas in Greenspoint

The parking lot of the Arbor Court Apartments was once again filled with flooded cars less than three weeks ago, on Aug. 8.

Now, weary tenants who survived last year's devastating flood said they are not taking any chances.

"I'm getting out of Dodge. I'm gonna leave, better safe than sorry," Isley Herskowitz said.

Officials of the Harris County Flood Control District told Channel 2 News they have several improvement projects to help remedy flooding in the Greenspoint area.

Work on the Glen Forest basin will be completed in 2018.

Phase I of the Greens Bayou federal project is complete. Phase II began in late 2016 and will take about three years to complete.

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