Open Letter to Residents of Sienna LID

September 26, 2017

To: Residents of the Sienna Plantation Levee Improvement District of Fort Bend County, TX

From: Ken Beckman, President, Board of Directors

Subject: Hurricane Harvey; Community meeting and webcast

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Sienna Plantation Levee Improvement District of Fort Bend County, TX (SPLID) I want to extend our deepest sympathy to the residents of Sienna Plantation who experienced water and wind damage to their homes caused by Hurricane Harvey. Our hearts go out to each of you.

The primary mission of SPLID is to reduce the risk of flooding from two different causes:

  1. the Brazos River rising because of rain that falls outside our community; and
  2. water rising in our lakes and channels because of rain that falls inside of our community.

Hurricane Harvey hit us with record setting water levels from both these threats at the same time. It took only 56 hours for Hurricane Harvey to strengthen from a tropical depression on August 23 to a Category 4 hurricane at landfall two days later. Harvey dumped nearly 52 inches of rain across the greater Houston area, including an estimated 38 inches in Sienna, a record for a single storm in the continental United States. The Brazos River also crested at an all-time high. Our system performed as designed, without failure or mechanical breakdowns.

Federal, state and local regulations require that our drainage system be capable of handling 10.5 inches of rain over four days during a high river event. Our system handled that and more…much more. What we experienced was more than THREE TIMES the amount of rainfall our system is required to handle. Our 14 pumps worked continuously and effectively during and after Harvey to pump out more than six BILLION gallons of water – enough to fill the Astrodome 18 times.

If the system worked as it was designed then why did we see floodwaters in our community? The record-breaking 38 inches of rainfall was simply more than the system could handle. No one planned or modeled the system against the amount of rainfall Hurricane Harvey dropped on us. Despite this overwhelming event, we estimate that less than 1% of homes protected by our system experienced water damage.

So where do we go from here?

First, we have asked our engineers to compile all the available data and provide a detailed report of the system’s performance as well as recommendations for possible enhancements to our system. Our team of consultants has already begun meeting with many of the effected homeowners and survey crews have already started a detailed mapping of the high-water marks throughout the community. Additionally, a third party independent engineering firm will conduct a peer-review of the final report and recommendations. This report will be made available to you when it is complete. If your home received floodwater and you have not already done so, please complete the form located on the “Water Damage Questionnaire” page, so that we can reach out to you and add your information to our data and report.

Second, we recognize the delivery of our message and the channels by which they were communicated during Harvey were insufficient. We are committed to providing better education and communication moving forward, which is why we have launched SiennaLID.org to provide a vehicle to communicate directly to our residents. This digital platform will be an official source of information where you can find quarterly updates on capital improvement projects, maps, meeting notices and much more. We encourage you to sign up for our newsletter and alerts so that you can get real time official information during extreme events like Harvey.

Lastly, many of you have expressed an interest in better understanding how our system works, including what the system can and cannot handle. In addition to the information on the website, we will be holding a community-wide meeting Wednesday, October 4 at Ridge Point High School from 7:00-8:30 p.m. We will present an overview of the system and a preliminary report on Harvey. We will address some Frequently Ask Questions. At this meeting, we will have an open house with representatives of various agencies so that you can ask individual questions. If you have a question that you would like specifically addressed at the October 4th meeting, you may submit the question here. Please join us or watch our live webcast by clicking here. A recording of the webcast will also be available on SiennaLID.org if you are unable to attend or watch the event live.

In closing, I want to take the time to thank our first responders, elected officials, and friends and neighbors who opened their hearts and sacrificed their well-being to the service of others. Your selflessness has made a significant difference throughout this trying time and you will forever be our heroes.

Sincerely,

Ken Beckman