BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Benita Johnson has dealt with her share of flooding recently.
“The water just kept coming and it was pretty bad," Johnson remembered. The last few years have brought a lot of unwelcome water to the Castle Heights neighborhood.
“The water issue, it needs to be addressed. We’ve got plenty of engineers that could solve this problem in a matter of time, but it’s that red tape, political stuff that’s holding it back," says longtime resident Wilborn Wilson.
A small creek flows through the area and often floods during heavy rain.
“It just keeps getting muddied, and the trees keep falling in it, and causing it to keep flooding. They need to clean the whole thing out," Johnson said. City Council member Prentiss Madison says the city is working to fix the issue, but their hands are tied.
“A lot of people went out and bought property in Castle Heights. Back then, we didn’t have flood maps. So, they’re in a flood zone and FEMA doesn’t allow, the federal government doesn’t allow, you to go in and correct some of the issues," Madison says.
“Recently FEMA has undertaken updating all of the flood maps across the country," said Texas A&M University Professor Dawn Jourdan. She's an expert in land-use law.
"The issue that we are talking about is not a local issue, it’s a national issue. The same types of problems that are affecting castle heights are affecting neighborhoods and cities across the country," Jourdan said. In addition to the neighborhood being in a FEMA flood zone, there are other issues that involve ownership of the creek.
“The city doesn’t really have an ownership in it. It may have a public health interest in making sure that the neighborhood doesn’t flood, but without some negotiation between the property owners and the city, the city isn’t really in a position to do much," Jourdan said. Residents are encouraged to have flood insurance and keep the creek clean.
“We had the Big Event come out, about 30 kids, and some of the city staff got down in that creek and cleaned it out as much as possible," said Madison. He said without property rights to the creek, the city is doing everything they can.
“I’ll be honest, we trust city staff in the direction on what we need to do for Castle Heights and help alleviate some of the flooding issues with Castle Heights." said Madison.
City engineers are working on some options that might alleviate some of the flood issues in 2018.