Did $17 million city project cause posh homes to flood? - Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

Did $17 million city project cause posh homes to flood?

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

The flooding that hit the Houston area April 28, 2009 came as no surprise.

Even the day before every TV station in town was warning viewers of potential flooding.

"We've never been flooded before so how could it be in my bedroom?" homeowner Mark Kenner wondered.

"Many of our clients and many of the houses in this neighborhood never flooded in prior named events such as Allison, Ike, Alicia," said attorney James Blackwell.

But this time flood water was rushing into many of the posh homes in the Fonn Villas subdivision.

"I stepped out of bed and all of a sudden my foot, I could just hear splashes on the ground," Kenner said. "I couldn't believe it, you know"

So what was different this time?

Why were homes taking in water when nothing like this had ever happened before?

Believe it or not it was because of the city's 17 million dollar project to improve storm drainage in the neighborhood.

"It's not funny but it is ironic, they were paying for the storm water drainage improvements and what they got was a flooded house," Blackwell said.

According to a lawsuit filed against Reytec Construction, the company the city hired, what tax payers go for their 17 million was a huge mess.

"I think the city should feel duped and I think taxpayers should feel duped," said Blackwell.

According to the suit, Reytec placed two by fours and sandbags in front of all the drainage ditches in the neighborhood for erosion control.

"Basic sense tells you obviously if you put a two by four and you block a drain it's not going to work," Kenner said.

"You're making this neighborhood into a fish bowl," said Blackwell. "You're plugging all the exits, the water has no where to go it just sits there and accumulates."

The flood water in Kenner's house transformed his sunken living room into something else.

"It became a pool basically, I had a pool in my house," Kenner said.

When residents pulled the sandbags and two by fours away from the drainage inlets they say the flood water receded within just a matter of minutes.

"My first thought was basically what kind of construction is this," Kenner said.

"The reason you're getting paid allot of money is to do your job and to do it right," Blackwell said.

But according to the lawsuit and depositions taken with Reytec officials the job was riddled with questionable activity like not having a required permit, failing to maintain the erosion controls and lying about the qualifications of the person in charge.

"I think that's ridiculous, I mean here again the city is paying 17 million dollars plus in taxpayer money," said Blackwell.

There were other problems with the job.

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Reytec never even had the appropriate permit for the project.

And on three different occasions the city imposed fines against Reytec for violating the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program.

One violation occurred the year before the flood, two others happened months after the April 2009 flood.

Still the city continues to hire Reytec for massive jobs around town.

In fact since the April 2009 flood the city has awarded Reytec 8 other construction projects worth over 28 million dollars.

In addition to hundreds of thousands in damage to their homes and property, these homeowners will likely see their home values drastically drop.

All because of something they say should have never happened in the first place.

"Now these people have to disclose this artificially created flood if they ever want to sale their house again," Blackwell said.

In a prepared response Reytec's attorney says the allegations in the lawsuit have no merit.

"Reports from the city indicate this was one of the worst flooding events on record....the damage to homes in the Fonn VIllas neighborhood was the direct result of this extraordinary rain event and had nothing to do with Reytec."

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