• By: Hank Stout
  • Published: October 2018

Common Flood Areas in HoustonAnytime it rains in Houston there is the possibility of high water areas. Especially if there are two to three inches of rain over a brief period of time.  It’s easy to misjudge the depth of floodwaters and get yourself in a bad situation. An important rule of thumb to keep in mind is that if you can’t see the curb, don’t drive into the water.

A normal passenger car sits approximately six to eight inches off the ground so it doesn’t take much to flood your vehicle.  In fact, it only takes a foot of water to float a car and two feet of moving water can carry away most vehicles. Once your vehicle is floating, the floodwater becomes your steering wheel causing the chance for the vehicle to be swept away, tipped over, or flipped.

The worst decision one can make is attempting to drive into floodwaters. Just wait it out, the good thing about Houston is that the water recedes fairly quickly.

As the National Weather Service has campaigned for years: “Turn around, don’t drown!” If you must drive, stay informed with weather and traffic updates through the National Weather Service and live Houston traffic updates.

Follow these safety tips when it’s raining:

  • Drive with caution and slow down in heavy rain
  • Provide extra braking distance
  • Stay away from puddles to avoid hydroplaning
  • Don’t drive near barriers or through high water

According to Flood Safety, flash flooding is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. There are approximately 200 deaths per year with over 50% of flood-related drownings are in vehicles. Texas leads the nation when it comes to flash flood deaths with 76% of deaths are vehicle-related.

The good news is that you can escape a sinking vehicle. If you are stuck in your vehicle underwater, you have an average of 30 to 60 seconds to get out alive.

It is natural to find yourself in panic mode and wanting to call 911 as the emergency is happening. However, the best thing for you to do is not to call 911 until you get out of your vehicle. Remain calm and act quickly. Time is critical as every second count for survival. It is best to focus on getting out of your car first and calling 911 once you’ve made it alive.

Here are some basic tips to keep in mind. Unbuckle your seatbelt to give yourself the flexibility to maneuver and escape. Open or break the passenger window before the water rises. Opening the door will be very difficult against the water pressure.

Vehicles with power windows can be difficult as the electrical system may shut down once the car hits the water. If you are unable to roll your window down, break the window using your headrest or a rescue tool such as a Swiss Army knife or a small hammer.  When a car is sinking, it will tilt forward causing the water to push against doors and windows. If you are unable to get the window open, keep trying until you are able to escape.

The Harris County Flood Control District’s Flood Warning System (FWS) measures rainfall and monitors water levels in bayous and major streams on a real-time basis.

(Harris County FWS Map: https://www.harriscountyfws.org)

The FWS is used by local and national agencies to inform users of potential and current flooding conditions in the area. Houston Transtar reports real-time high water locations in Houston-area roads. By using these resources proactively it allows you to take appropriate precautions during times of heavy rain and flooding.

Common Areas in Houston Prone to High Water

  • High Water Underpass include locations where underpasses experience high levels of water
  • Higher water indicators are water-level measuring devices constructed of a 0.75-to 1-inch pipe with holes in its bottom and a wooden stick and cork shavings inside
  • Flood Signals are locations of gages measure rainfall amounts and monitors water levels in bayous and creeks on a real-time basis to inform officials and the public of dangerous weather conditions
  • Key Flooding areas in Houston

    North Houston

    High Water Locations:

    1. Greens Rd at North FWY
    2. Greens Rd at E. Hardy Rd
    3. Crosstimbers at I-45N FWY
    4. Kelley St at Hardy Toll Rd
    5. Jensen Dr. at South of Bennington St.
    6. Bennington St at Eastex FWY, 77093
    7. Jensen Drive at North Loop East FWY
    8. Jensen Drive at N. Lyons Avenue

    High Water Underpasses:

    1. 1600 Jensen
    2. 1600 East Crosstimbers
    3. 1900 Kelley Street
    4. 8100 Hempstead

    Flood Signal Locations:

    1. 1700 Jensen Drive
    2. 6514 Jensen Drive
    3. 3500 Kelley
    4. 5800 Elysian
    5. 7506 E Hardy Drive
    6. 5405 Mesa Drive

    Northwest Houston:

    High Water Locations:

    1. Barker Cypress at Hempstead
    2. Barker Cypress at W. Parkview
    3. Barker Cypress at Clay
    4. Barker Cypress at Saums
    5. Clay Rd at West of Brittmore

    High Water Underpasses:

    1. 7200 Senate Avenue

    Flood Signal Locations:

    1. 10704 W Little York Rd

    Central Houston:

    High Water Locations:

    1. Allen PKWY at Waugh Drive
    2. Memorial at Waugh Drive
    3. Studewood at Katy FWY
    4. Center Street at Houston Avenue
    5. Houston Avenue at Katy FWY
    6. North Main at Burnett
    7. 2500 Allen Pkwy at Montrose Drive
    8. Memorial at Shepherd
    9. Memorial at Studemont
    10. Memorial Drive at Houston Avenue
    11. Katy Rd at Silver Eagle

    High Water Underpasses:

    1. 100 Shepherd Drive
    2. 100 Yale Street
    3. 1000 Houston Avenue
    4. 1200 Studemont
    5. 1200 Wayside
    6. N. Main at Burnett
    7. 300 Studewood
    8. 3400 N. Shepherd
    9. 3500 Kelley Street
    10. 7000 Old Katy Rd
    11. Memorial at Woodway

    Flood Signal Locations:

    1. 1989 Allen Parkway
    2. 3087 Allen Parkway
    3. 774 Houston Avenue
    4. Houston Avenue and Center Street
    5. 4450 Memorial Drive
    6. 10200 Old Katy Road

    Downtown:

    High Water Locations:

    1. Lamar Street at Bagby
    2. Walker Street at West of Bagby
    3. Travis Street at I-10 FWY
    4. Louisiana Street at N. Franklin Street
    5. 1300 Commerce Street at Austin Street
    6. Texas Street at Prairie Street
    7. Franklin Street at St. Emmanuel
    8. Mesa at N. US 90 HWY

    High Water Underpasses:

    1. 100 Milam Street
    2. 300 S 75th
    3. 200 Forest Hill
    4. 2100 Franklin
    5. 2400 Harrisburg
    6. 2500 Allen PKWY
    7. 2900 Allen PKWY
    8. 3800 Polk
    9. 400 Houston Avenue
    10. 4800 Elgin
    11. 5600 Mesa
    12. 600 Broadway
    13. 6500 Jensen
    14. 7000 Clinton
    15. 7500 Clinton

    Flood Signal Locations:

    1. 3799 Polk
    2. 2050 Franklin Street
    3. 7220 Clinton Drive
    4. 306 S 75th Street
    5. 600 Brooks Street
    6. 247 Forest Hill Blvd.

    Medical Center:

    High Water Locations:

    1. 7000 Main Street at Holcombe Blvd.
    2. 7000 Fannin Street at Holcombe Blvd

    High Water Underpasses:

    1. 7000 Fannin
    2. 7000 Main

    Flood Signal Locations:

    1. Main at Holcombe Blvd.
    2. Fannin at Holcombe Blvd.

    The Heights

    High Water Locations:

    1. White Oak Drive at Taylor Street
    2. White Oak Drive at Sabine
    3. Washington Ave at Hempstead
    4. North Main St. at West of Boundary St

    High Water Underpasses:

    1. 4800 Memorial
    2. Washington at Old Katy Rd

    Flood Signal Locations:

    1. Yale and Center Street

    Southeast Houston

    High Water Locations:

    1. Lawndale Street at Braes Bayou
    2. 9600 Lawndale at E. Goodyear Drive
    3. Galveston Road at S. Howard

    High Water Underpasses:

    1. 4900 Galveston Rd
    2. 7200 J W Peavy
    3. 8100 Harrisburg
    4. 9600 Lawndale

    Flood Signal Locations:

    1. 4401 Elgin Street
    2. 5455 Old Spanish Trail
    3. 4953 Galveston Road
    4. 8040 Harrisburg Blvd.
    5. 6598 Lawndale
    6. 9600 Lawndale
    7. 615 Broadway Street

    Southwest

    High Water Underpasses

    1. Westpark at S. Kirkwood
    2. 11700 Richmond
    3. Westpark at Bonnebridge Way

    Sources:
    Harris County Flood Warning System
    Houston Transtar High Water Locations
    https://abc13.com/traffic/most-likely-roads-to-flood-in-and-around-houston/2342094/
    https://weather.com/safety/floods/news/flash-flooding-vehicle-danger-20140717
    http://www.floodsafety.com/national/life/statistics.htm

    About the Author

    Hank Stout is a founding partner at Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm. Hank earned his doctor of jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law and has been actively trying personal injury cases for over ten years. He was recognized by Thompson Reuters as a Rising Star from 2012-2014 and has been recognized as a Super Lawyer since 2014 (a distinction given to less than 1% of the lawyers in the state of Texas). He has earned a Superb rating by Avvo, and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To learn more, read Hank's full bio here.

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