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High Water Days


Harvard Market in the Heights became an island during the 1935 flood.

Harvard Market in the Heights became an island during the 1935 flood.

By Story Sloane III

If you have lived in Houston for any period of time, the issue of flooding will be something you are familiar with. I have lived here all of my life and realize that it does not take a full-blown hurricane to raise the water levels to the degree of flooding your car or home.

Allison was a tropical storm that dropped more than 40 inches of rain and flooded most of Houston, but it was not the first time our city had a major flood. Rain over the Memorial Day weekend in 1929 produced flooding along the bayou that resulted in heavy damage downtown to the tune of $1.4 million. As bad as that flood was, six years later in December 1935, downtown was hit harder. Rains pushed the water level 8 feet over the banks of Buffalo Bayou. High water flowed down Texas Avenue making a canoe a handy thing to have. Firefighters had to draft water from the streets to battle a blaze at the Yellow Cab Company garage. Over 25 blocks downtown were flooded along with 100 residential streets experiencing high water, including the Houston Heights.

The devastation along the bayou and ship channel helped to push the damage total to $3 million. Seven people died as a result of the 1935 flood. The horrific damage and expense associated with the floods of 1929 and 1935 acted like a wakeup call for the citizens of Houston that something had to be done to prevent future calamities. A few years later in 1937 the Harris County Flood Control District was formed, resulting in the creation of Addicks and Barker reservoirs.

The best advice to any newcomers to Houston can be summed up in two words:  “Flood insurance.”

Photos courtesy of Story Sloane’s Gallery
www.sloanegallery.com
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An example of the historical precedence of children taking advantage of high water for a swim.

An example of the historical precedence of children taking advantage of high water for a swim.

Houston Firefighters draft water from the flooded streets in front of the Blaise parking garage (602 Louisiana) to battle the 1935 blaze at the Yellow Cab Garage.

Houston Firefighters draft water from the flooded streets in front of the Blaise parking garage (602 Louisiana) to battle the 1935 blaze at the Yellow Cab Garage.

A bird’s-eye view of the 1935 flood, looking east from the west. Photo courtesy of the Bob Bailey Collection.

A bird’s-eye view of the 1935 flood, looking east from the west. Photo courtesy of the Bob Bailey Collection.

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