The Big Switch: Changing to Virtual Meetings During a Pandemic
As a new employee with the Flood Control District, Sparkle Bell had only worked in the office for one month before employees began to work from home.
"I knew immediately that there were some things that would be impacted and our community engagement meetings were no exception. They were immediately halted," said Sparkle Bell, Communications Director.
Her team began the process of identifying platforms to host meetings online. The decision was made to use the online meeting sites Public Input and Webex.
More Gages, More Data
The Harris County Flood Control District installed a total of 23 new gage stations in 2020 of which 10 were in the Flood Control District’s network and 13 were installed at the request of regional partnerships through inter-local agreements. The 10 gages installed within the Flood Control District’s network were located at the following locations:
Boggy Bayou @ San Augustine Street
Patricks Bayou @ East 8th Street
Taylor Bayou @ Port Road
Clear Creek @ Dixie Farm Road
East Fork San Jacinto @ SH 105
Tarkington Bayou @ SH 105
Luce Bayou @ SH 321
Armand Bayou @ Space Center Boulevard
Cedar Bayou @ FM 1960
Vince Bayou @ Fairmont
Gages installed along portions of Cedar Bayou, Luce Bayou, Tarkington Bayou, and the East Fork of the San Jacinto River were added to increase
rainfall coverage and water level information on the upstream headwaters of these watersheds in northern and central Liberty County, northeastern Montgomery County and far eastern Harris County. It became clear during the widespread and significant flooding resulting from Tropical Storm Imelda (2019) in this area, that additional rainfall and stream information in the headwaters of these watersheds would greatly benefit downstream warning and preparations in northeast Harris County.
Flood Control District Website Gets a Fresh Look
The Harris County Flood Control District's Creative Services team has spent the last several weeks making updates to our website with the goal of making it easier for first time visitors to find information about our projects and activities. These changes will begin to appear on hcfcd.org at the end of January.
The changes include new features on our homepage, along with an updated menu system which organizes site content into four main categories: About, Activity, Resources, and Community. This new menu system will allow visitors to preview and directly navigate to more of the content within each of these new sections, while the updated homepage will provide a richer and more detailed introduction into the work of the Flood Control District and an updated mapping interface for exploring active Capital and Major Maintenance projects.
Team members: Martin Pepper, Natalia Reynolds, Javier Rodriguez, and Universal Services.
Record Number of Service Requests Closed
The Citizens Service Center provides a single point of contact for residents to report concerns and raise concerns regarding the operating condition of Flood Control District infrastructure. 2020 was a busy year for service request work. For 2020, nearly double the number of service requests were completed. The Citizens Service Center Team closed out 2,862 requests compared, to 1,232 in 2019. This is part of the CSD's effort to clean up the significant backlog and outdated service requests.
The same five Watersheds comprise both the top producers of new service requests and closed service requests: Greens, White Oak, Cypress, Brays, and Buffalo.
Team members: Jeremy Phillips, James Orlando,Citizen Service Center Reps – Erica Smith and Pamela Vanstavern, Property Mangers, and Infrastructure
Infrastructure Division Manager
How long have you been with the Flood Control District ?
17 years and 8 months
What are your day to day responsibilities?
My typical daily activities include reviewing/providing direction on future projects and initiatives that will create new Infrastructure to maintain, managing the inspection and repair of Federal Protection Projects under the District’s charge, working with the Corps and other outside agencies and non-profit groups for the repair of our systems, providing technical information on District specifications and other project related items, and providing support to INF staff to help them accomplish their projects, goals and initiatives in the most efficient manner possible.
What do you like the most about your job?
The satisfaction of working in a team environment to craft a solution to a complex problem and then seeing it through until it is successfully completed.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
I truly enjoy helping citizens with their drainage problems, and many times problems are brought to my attention that are not within the District’s scope of responsibility. I have found it challenging at times to explain to citizens that the District does not handle ALL drainage issues. However, I will always try to point them in the right direction or provide a contact who may be better equipped to help them out.
What is something about you that people would be surprised to know?
From the age of four through my high school graduation I competed in youth rodeos across the state of Texas.
Employees Recognition Program in Full Swing
The purpose of the High Five Program is to recognize employees at all levels (contractors and senior leadership, too) for their day-to-day efforts that contribute to getting the job done. This program allows Flood Control District employees to recognize one another for their exemplary work. Whether it's a big project that took extra time or a small effort that saved the day, employees can complete a High Five to spread good will and reward good work.
Flood Control District Active Projects
From the Executive Director
Click here to read the monthly employee message from the Harris County Flood Control District's Executive Director Russ Poppe.
Flood Control District Projects Update
As of January 2021, the Harris County Flood Control District has
160 of 181 active bond projects totaling $507 Million. The Flood Control District has hosted 139 Community Engagement Meetings with 11,384 registered attendees and has received more than 7,000 bond program comments.
MAAPnext Project Making Strides
The MAAPnext team is hard at work to develop and deliver quality modeling and mapping results along with a variety of supportive educational and interactive online tools to the public by the end of 2021!
The Harris County Flood Control District and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have partnered to deliver an innovative watershed-wide floodplain restudy, the Modeling, Assessment and Awareness Project (MAAPnext). This project represents a transformative step in the definition, management, and regulation of Harris County’s floodplains representing a vital contribution to our county’s flood resilience. With the introduction of advanced 1D/2D watershed-wide modeling, granular terrain data, and increases in rainfall totals from NOAA Atlas 14, many significant changes to mapped floodplains can be expected in Harris County.
Team members: Ataul Hannan, Brian Edmondson, Todd Ward, Craig Maske, Bruce Davidson, Matt Barr, and Beth Walters.
February 4, 2021 at 6:30
Virtual Community Engagement meeting for CI-002 Basin.
February 11, 2021 at 11:30
Matt Zeve will be the February keynote speaker for the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce. Matt will give an update on projects happening in Northwest Harris County.
HCFCD in the News
Check out some of our coverage for the month!