Clear Lake removes storm surge warning signs

February 8, 2011 4:19:46 PM PST
Signs meant to show the dangers of a possible storm surge in Clear Lake are now being taken down. People who live near the signs say these constant reminders of possible flooding have a negative impact on home values.

A storm surge sign showing that water could be reach as high as 20 feet in Clear Lake had a few area residents doing a double take.

"I didn't believe the water would ever get that high. I mean, I've been here 17 years and through a couple of hurricanes, and I thought, my gosh, this is not true," Clear Lake resident Susan Maki said.

Several of the signs were placed throughout the Clear Lake area, funded by FEMA. But at a time when the Clear Lake area is trying to rebound from massive NASA layoffs, real estate began fielding calls of concern over property values for homes near the signs.

"To a new person coming in from out of state and maybe never living in a place that hurricanes would hit, ya know, they might be afraid," Maki said.

When Hurricane Ike made landfall in September of 2008, it was a Category 2 storm but with a storm surge of a Category 4 storm at 15 to 20 feet.

However after Ike, a new scale for storm surges emerged.

"And even with that, Clear Lake didn't flood at all, so it was ironic that Clear Lake had these signs when Kemah and Seabrook and these places that really got hit hard didn't have any signs," Clear Lake resident Todd Hinz said.

After months of lobbying Houston City Councilman Mike Sullivan, the decision was made to pull the signs down.

"It's not that it was right or wrong or that the community liked them or didn't like them, it was the fact that the sign language was inappropriate for the scales that we are going to use going forward on other hurricanes," Sullivan said.

Now the only place some residents will see the signs is on a cell phone, and that's just fine with them.

"It was just one thing we didn't need for new people coming in our area, to see those storm surge signs and to think there was something wrong with the Clear Lake area when there really wasn't," Hinz said.

We asked Councilman Sullivan if revised signs will replace the old signs. He said at this time he is not aware of any new signs for the Clear Lake area.


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