For decades, the Army Corps of Engineers was aware that land upstream from the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs in Houston could be a source of catastrophic flooding during a severe storm, but authorities did nothing about the looming threat. That’s according to a federal lawsuit filed by lawyers representing homeowners, businesses and homeowners associations impacted by widespread flooding caused by the Corps’ management of two dams after Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 30 inches of rain in August 2017.
“The Corps of Engineers built these two reservoirs and the dams that go with them, but it failed to buy up enough land that its own studies showed would flood, and failed to warn property owners of the danger,” says attorney Daniel Charest of Burns Charest LLP. “Those people who built their homes and businesses in that area are the folks we represent.”
In a new legal filing, Charest and Larry Vincent of Burns Charest in Dallas along with Charles Irvine of Irvine & Conner PLLC in Houston disclose new details about the dams and individual stories of the hardships that residents endured because of the flooding. The U.S. Court of Federal claims has named Charest, Vincent and Irvine to three of six leadership positions representing upstream flood victims in the case.
Plaintiff Christina Micu spoke to the Houston Chronicle in a January 17 article and described how the catastrophic flooding continues to affect her daily life. “For a while, I was crying every day for a couple of months,” said Ms. Micu, who is still living in an apartment because she has been unable to move back to her home.
The legal case seeks compensation for flooding victims based on the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which bars the government from taking property without compensating those affected.
The case is In re Upstream Addicks and Barker (Texas) Flood-Control Reservoirs, No. 1:17-cv-09001 in the U.S. Court of Federal claims.