Looking for answers to unusual flooding

January 10, 2012 3:43:39 PM PST
Clean up is continuing following the stunning flood damage seen across the Houston area from Monday's storms. The flood waters have receded in southeast Houston where students and apartment residents had to be evacuated.

It's not generally an area of town where we see major flooding problems, although we haven't had this type of torrential downpour for quite some time. We've been searching for some answers as to just what happened in the neighborhood near Griggs and Long.

The short answer is -- there was a large amount of rain in a short amount of time. But it's natural for people to search for a cause behind a disaster.

Sam Nickerson, whose apartment flooded, said, "What I believe is it's the railing system, because they always building stuff."

Light rail construction, METRO says, did not contribute to the flooding. But then there's something that caught our eye -- a giant metal culvert that carries storm water from a tributary of Brays Bayou. The metal is torn in two, the pipe upended by the force of the water and the bank partially collapsed, damming some of the water from draining into the bayou.

"It's not maintained by the city," said Braxton Cole with Houston Public Works.

On Tuesday city storm water crews were looking at the damage the culvert failure might have caused. It is not a city drainage pipe. And while the county's flood control district has jurisdiction over the waterway, a representative says it's not the county's either.

Fred Garcia with the Harris County Flood Control said, "At this point I'd have to say that's part of the railroad operation for draining their right of way, is the way it looks to me."

Before deregulation this was the property of Houston Belt and Terminal. HBT is now co-owned by Union Pacific and Burlington Northern. A Union Pacific representative says crews responded as soon as they could to help the water subside.

On Tuesday crews were removing the section of failed pipe, which also has a rail trestle above it. Railroad officials are "investigating the impact the collapse may have caused."