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Homeowners and Families Seeking Answers After Addicks and Barker Reservoir Releases Tragically Kill Two Elderly Memorial Residents

Addicks & Barker Reservoir Release Flood Lawyer | Hurricane Harvey Flood Lawyer Houston

Homeowners in West Houston are seeking answers, after thousands of homes were destroyed and two elderly residents tragically died as a result of the severe flooding that occurred from the Addicks and Barker Reservoir releases during and after Hurricane Harvey.

“The Government Really Screwed Up — Royally.”

“I just want the public to know that the government really screwed up — royally,” Emile Nassar, 73, a flood survivor, told The Houston Chronicle. “It’s only when they opened up the dams that the water started coming.”

Nassar is president of the homeowners’ association for his condominium complex, where he was neighbors with Cathy Harling Montgomery.

Neither Montgomery nor Robert Arthur Haines, both 71, were able to escape the rising flood waters from the Addicks and Barker Reservoir releases.  They both tragically drowned in their Memorial-area homes.

Now their angry neighbors and families are demanding to know why those living in the flood zone were not warned sooner about the impending danger.

Addicks and Barker Reservoir Releases

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued its first public notice regarding the Addicks and Barker Reservoir releases on their website on the afternoon of August 27th, around 2:00 p.m.

Unprecedented rains from Hurricane Harvey had almost filled the flood-control reservoirs to capacity, prompting the Army Corps of Engineers and Harris County Flood Control District to begin releases into the already flooded Buffalo Bayou.

The initial plan was to begin releasing water at the Addicks Reservoir around 2:00 a.m. on Monday, August 28th. The Barker release was to commence around 11:00 a.m.

However, the Corps was forced to quickly shift gears due to heavier-than-expected rainfall, and began releasing water from both reservoirs just before midnight on Sunday, August 27th.

The releases started out at 11,970 gallons per second, and shortly thereafter were increased to 59,840 gallons per second. Less than 48 hours later, however, the releases were increased even more, to 13,300 cubic feet per second (or 99,490 gallons per second).

As predicted by the Army Core of Engineers and Harris County Flood Control District, thousands of homes and businesses along Buffalo Bayou began to flood. By the time Harvey had passed on Tuesday, August 29, more than 4,000 previously dry homes and businesses were inundated—and, in some cases, completely submerged.

“He Shouldn’t Have Died That Way”

Nassar told The Houston Chronicle that he had noticed only a few inches of water in his first-floor condo before the releases began.  After sweeping the 1 or 2 inches of water out of his home, he went to bed around 9:00 p.m.

At 2:00 a.m., Nassar was awakened by what he characterized as a gurgling sound.

“Oh my god, I’ve got over a foot of water in the condo,” he recalled.

While Nassar was able to get out, Montgomery and Haines were not so fortunate.

Montgomery’s body was found September 7th inside her flood-damaged condo.

Haines’ husband, Fredricks, said he tried to reach their home on August 30th, but was blocked by the floodwaters. Haines body wasn’t recovered until September 8th, in four-feet of water.

“The whole house was submerged and my husband was in the house,” Fredricks Haines told the Chronicle. “He shouldn’t have died that way.”

The September 1 Evacuation Order Came Too Late

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner finally issued a voluntary evacuation order for flooded residential areas downstream of the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs on September 1st. That was followed by a mandatory evacuation order on September 2nd.

A spokesperson for the Mayor said the decision to issue a mandatory order was made after Houston officials became concerned that rescues could not be conducted safely.

Had they been aware that homes would flood, the city likely would have positioned more rescue boats in the vicinity. But according to the spokesperson, its likely residents would have still been advised to shelter-in-place.

Officials with the Corps said its engineers worked closely with state and local officials to “provide data regarding the dams and reservoirs to help them make informed decisions for the communities they support.”

Additional questions from the Houston Chronicle were referred to the U.S. Department of Justice, which declined to comment.

Residents Want a Stronger and More Timely Warning

Hank Bussa, 71, who lived just a block away from Haines, told the Chronicle that he and others in the area deserved a chance to get out of their homes.

By 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, the floodwaters were near his front door, but had not entered his residence.

Shortly after midnight, however, Bussa and his wife were scrambling to save their possesions as water entered their home.

“There was water coming in my front door,” he said. “I turned around and looked across my family room and there was water coming in my back door. There was water coming into the utility room. The water was coming in from all directions. And it came in fast. We had maybe another 30 minutes and we were wading around downstairs trying to pick up chairs and whatever we could.”

They weren’t able to make it out of their flooded home until rescuers arrived by boat the following day.

If Your Home or Business was Flooded by the Addicks & Barker Reservoir Releases, Our Undefeated Houston Flood & Reservoir Release Lawyers Can Help.  Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here for a Free Consult.

Our lawyers will answer your questions, explains your rights, and help you evaluate all of your options so that you can choose the best course forward for you and your family.

All consultations are free and because we work exclusively on a contingency fee, you won’t pay us anything unless we win your case.

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