‘Amazing’ Recovery Effort Bolsters Houston in the Face of Hurricane Harvey Flooding

As southeastern Texas braces itself against relentless rain and what some have described as a 1,000-year flood caused by Hurricane Harvey, local ASCE leaders are working to aid the recovery and relief efforts.

“The American Society of Civil Engineers sends our thoughts and concerns to all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey,” said ASCE President Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D., P.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE. “Our condolences go out to those who lost loved ones in the storm or experienced substantial property damage, including more than 3,000 ASCE members in the Houston region.”

ASCE Board of Direction Member Carol Ellinger Haddock, P.E., M.ASCE, is the Acting Director of Public Works for the City of Houston. “What is happening in Houston is a life-changing event for our entire community,” she said. “Seventy-two hours in, and we are still actively rescuing people stranded on roofs and in homes with water. Recovery will take years.”

In a post addressed to members on the ASCE Houston Branch website, Branch President Patrick Beecher, P.E., M.ASCE, said, “It will require a prolonged and significant response by the entire region to aid in the recovery and relief efforts. I am proud of the fact that ASCE Houston Branch and its members are active leaders and participants in the communities where we live.  As you are able and it is safe in your area to do so, I ask you to please volunteer your time and talents to relief efforts specific to your neighborhood and region of town. …”

Monday morning in the midst of the storm, Beecher shared with ASCE News a personal account from his hometown:

“Although portions of Houston have flooded in the past, Hurricane Harvey has stressed the entire region like never before, with large areas under water and more rain on the way.

Harvey Donate Sidebar 1“In the last two days, all but a handful of official rain gauges in the Harris County area show that more than 20 inches – and in many cases in excess of 25 inches of rain – has fallen in the area. Every watershed in the area has been affected. Houston has received half of its typical yearly rainfall total in two days.

“Harris County and the City of Houston have been coordinating relief efforts in the area. In addition, there has been a significant response by what is being called the unofficial ‘Houston Navy.’ Volunteers with boats of all sizes have come out to assist in rescuing individuals and families in those areas that have been hardest hit. It has been an amazing effort!

Texas National Guardsmen rescue a resident by boat.
Texas National Guardsmen rescue a resident by boat. PHOTO: U.S. Dept. of Defense

“With uncertain weather conditions persisting for a few more days, the message from officials is to stay in place and do not risk going out and getting stranded. Most of the major roads and interstates in the Houston area have sections with high water, making mass evacuations impractical.

Harvey Donate Sidebar 2“Isolated mandatory evacuations are now being called for those areas that haven’t yet flooded but are in imminent danger of flooding from rising rivers and from mandatory releases from the two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoirs (Barker and Addicks Reservoirs) in the area. These releases are necessary to avoid damage to the dams and levees that surround the reservoirs.

“We will likely see new areas flooded over the next few weeks as creeks and rivers top out, and as the flood waters slowly drain into the Gulf of Mexico.”

ASCE members interested in donating to the hurricane recovery effort can do so through:

– the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner


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  1. Texans,

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you struggle through this devastating tropical storm, Harvey. Your health and safety come first. But, after the water recedes there will be large and long term recovery efforts needed. Texans are strong and you have proven in the past that you help each other through difficult challenges. The rest of us are hear to support you in whatever way we can. We wish you all the best and we’ll continue to pray for your safety and quick recovery.

    Andrew Feranda, PE, PTOE, M.ASCE
    Past President NJ Section
    Superstorm Sandy Survivor

  2. Most of the major roads and interstates in the Houston area have sections with high water, making mass evacuations impractical.


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