Better flood alerts needed, councilman says

When the Army Corps of Engineers released water from the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs, some homeowners say they had no warning. Now, a Houston city councilman wants to make sure everyone gets an alert the next time it happens.

HOUSTON - We all get flash flood warnings on our cell phones, but some neighbors on the west side want alerts for releases from the Barker and Addicks Reservoirs.

"It just is overwhelming," said Randy Jones, who has called Nottingham Forest home for the last 16 years.

This is the first time the majority of the homes in the neighborhood took on water.

"Most of us went to bed not knowing they were going to change that schedule," said Jones.

The water didn't come from the sky. It came from the Barker and Addicks reservoirs in the middle of the night.

"In this case we had no time to react," said Jones.

He was lucky, water came close, but didn't come in. For 12 days, he was flooded in, 10 without power.

"Why can't we just have a type of emergency alert like an Amber Alert, we have those all the time, so why can't we do this?" said Greg Travis, Houston City Council District G.

Travis wants an automatic cell phone alert, so no one is surprised.

"It would have woken people up like those Amber Alerts do. They come on very loud and they would have told you get up, get out, take a look at this," said Travis.

"It would work, we all have cell phones today," said Jones.

Jones knows it wouldn't have stopped the water, but he says it could have minimized the damage.

"Any warning system that can broadcast across the board would certainly be better than nothing at all," said Jones.

Alerts can be sent out now, but they have to be 90 characters according to the FCC. County leaders we spoke to say they're fighting for more freedom, but the restrictions were too limited to send out alerts on the reservoir releases during Harvey. Officials expect the alerts to be expanded to a longer form of 360 characters, but it could take a year and a half before the changes at the federal level reach Houston.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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