It seems that every day I take a call asking about the situation with Perry Homes and HCFCD. And while my thoughts are free-flowing I thought let me just sit down and write this all out, mostly for the Elm Grove residents that are not on social media, don’t come to our HOA meetings or think this just seems to have come out of the left field. The reality is that Elm Groves has made some very important friends along the way with this. They understand what has happened to our neighborhood is an outrage and must not be allowed to stand as is.
Maybe what is troubling me is that there seems to be so much misinformation out there and the Chronicle set this firestorm off using the word bailout. This is NOT a bailout. So there is no time like the present to share my thoughts. I hope this will help some of you understand what this actually is going on.
From the minute Aaron stopped me on my way home from work on Friday, May 3rd and said make it stop. I’ve never stopped one day trying to make it stop. We didn’t know why our neighborhood was underwater, and I called the Houston Fire Department to help not knowing really where all the water was coming from. As we caught our breath that night, we realized we had 20 houses flood and we all exhaled the damage was not far worse, not really knowing that the fight of the lives for our neighborhood had just begun.
I sat down on Sunday afternoon and wrote a letter on to Dave Martin on behalf of Elm Grove to inquire about what seemed to be a problem in Elm Grove with ‘drainage.’ Before we could even address my letter, May 7th came 200+ family’s lives were changed forever. The fabric of Elm Grove changed forever.
In hindsight, I believe Perry Homes made a determination that our neighborhood was an acceptable loss. After all, we are not rich. Our neighborhood with its 2000 sq foot homes, some of which Bob Perry himself built, is a diverse slice of Americana. A true working-class neighborhood that embodies the American Dream. Nurses, teachers, immigrants, retirees and families just starting out is our demographic. I am here to tell you there is not on person that lives in Elm Grove that is an acceptable loss. And no one has the right to come in and destroy another person’s life in this way.
There was a lot of activity in May. I met several members of the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD). Dave Martin and his office were extremely helpful to Elm Grove and by July we completed the great ditch switch, which I thought may help Elm Groves problem (it didn’t). HCFCD took over the open waterways that previously belonged to the Old Mud Districts throughout Kingwood and by the end of July, they had excavated Taylor Gully. The crisis seemed to have passed. And, as we came into late summer our neighbors had gone about the task of cleaning up.
As for Perry Homes, after cleaning 200+ acres and causing this mess, they slowed to a grinding halt citing the lawsuit many of the Elm Grove residents filed as the reason, and that was after they countersued the residents. Their actions started to telegraph to me, that they had no intention of building in a manner that worked for Elm Grove and they must go. Then came Imelda
We now had 500 homes this time underwater. And those who were barely hanging on were pushed over the proverbial edge.
There was a lot of talk with Dave Martin on the best route to take. But in the end, we mutually agreed that what was best for Elm Grove and the Northpark side of Kingwood for Perry Homes to leave. And an army of people have agreed with us and have been working on Elm Groves behalf ever since.
It is not acceptable to have children fearful of rain, or people putting their beds on cinderblocks, so they don’t drown in their beds. And for me, who loves my little dogs more than almost anything in the world, the horror of animals drowning in their homes because their mom or dad simply when to work is not a reality which should ever exist. Not one thing about this is acceptable to me. The only one this seems to be acceptable to is Kathy Britton.
It’s a Buyout Not a Bailout
So now we have undulations about profits and the Chronicle calling this a bailout. This is the prism from which I look at this and hope this will give some focus for those in Elm Grove that are unsure.
- This is a real estate deal. HCFCD is wanting to buy this land for upstream detention that will stop Elm Grove and Kingwood’s north side from flooding. HCFCD’s job it to protect the citizens of Harris County from flooding and this is exactly what that SHOULD be doing. We voted on a bond that gave money to solve flooding problems. One can argue all flooding is man-made. Whether it a guy who doesn’t know how to work the gates at Reservoir Conroe or a developer who doesn’t know how to read its own building plans that say thou shall not work on more than 30 acres at a time. This is precisely how that money was to be used.
- This discussion of profit is not being measured properly in my opinion. There were hundreds of houses scheduled to be built on that property and they will not be. Furthermore, for anyone in Elm Grove this is our chance to fix this problem. There are very few other options we have available if this one does not work out. We are sad about the neighbors that are moving away and how empty are streets are. We are concerned about the number of rent homes now in our neighborhood. We fears more rain. We should not concern ourselves with what Perry Homes may or may not make off the property. We should be focused on what is best for our families, our investment and our neighborhood.
- We should be standing in support of what the county/city is trying to do and applaud them. Its not every day a neighborhood goes to them and says solve this problem and they actually do that. In fact this is pretty unprecedented, and we need to recognize that and embrace it in my opinion. We should consider stopping bashing the Mayor and The county judge, both of who’s help we need. I ran into Mayor Turner last week and had the chance to ride up to the elevator with him to the 24th floor. I thanked him and told him Elm Grove appreciates the support he continues to give Dave Martin and by proxy us. I promise you; Dave Martin could not have pushed this as far as he has without Sylvester Turner’s support. Dave Martin would not be Vice Mayor if he did not have Sylvester Turner’s support. (pro tem sounds contrived) Everything is being done in a bipartisan manner as of now and its all being done to resolve this situation in a manner that benefits Elm Grove as well as Kingwood at large. We have very little options and most of those options will have to come out of our own pockets if this falls through or be embroiled in a very lengthy court battle. There is only so many ways this can be resolved none of which involve Perry Homes doing it, because well they don’t think they are wrong, or they would have already ‘fixed’ it. They have demonstrated no concern about Elm Grove, or they would have never done this in the first place. Additionally, Texas honors the rights of the property holder and as a state has a long history of honoring private property rights. So there is very little anyone can do to compel Perry Homes to do anything which is why each and every one of us should stand behind our government officials who are trying to help us in a very unconventional way because in the only feasible way to bring about a positive outcome for Elm Grove a buyout.
- In December, I thought we were going to have to go down to the county to plead our case I had started to assemble our residents and started to arrange for rides and such. As it turned out they came at this a little differently and I understand why that is. But I do hope we can take some time to let our officials know that we support them in their efforts to solve our issues, hopefully without having to give contingencies of the circumstances in which you think this should be done. Elm Grove is sentenced to death if this deal does not go though in my opinion. And Kingwood at large should also be concerned. I hope they will support Elm Grove as much as Elm Grove has supported them since Harvey right up to next week when we all need to go deal with the red shirted STD mob. I encourage voicing that support and encourage everyone to do so. I am writing this post so you guys have the facts and can continue to help support this effort.
- I have seen distrust expressed on social media for HCFCD. What I can say about that as they have been exceptional. They have been fantastic to work with. They have been calm. They have been supportive. They have been informational because they recognize we are not hydrologists or engineers. They have helped is in every conceivable way I can count. Even our Flood Cam, they can access that to see how we are doing in any and all rain events.
So What Happens Next?
I get asked that a lot. Then what. Please understand this has been a very well put together plan that can only be accomplished after the property is turned over to Harris County Flood.
The folks there has been From what Harris County Flood has told me, they already know what they need to do stop Elm Grove from flooding both in the short term as well as the long term. They have assured me that if they can gain control of the property, our neighborhood will be secured in as little as 10-days. And, as they time goes forward, that land will revert to being what it was, a natural barrier for all of Kingwood. This is not just about Elm Grove in the grander sense of what the benefits are.
And I want to express one thing in closing. I am a digital marketing expert. Everything you do can be seen by the ‘enemy’ as well as by the exact people trying to help us. Even in private groups, those groups are not vetted and may have people or lawyers in them that are not favorable to us. Just remember that. There are posts from these keyboard warriors that are being held up as public opinion. There are trolls that are planted to stir a pot and get sentiment moving in a counterproductive manner from our cause.
Next week we are on to the STD problem coming out of Reservoir Conroe, which also will impact us. I encourage as many Elm Grove residents to go support the Southside of Kingwood whereas we may need them one day soon to come to support us. Kingwood must work together all of us if we are to save off the lions and tigers constantly at our door, looking to flood our neighborhoods