Houston Fire Department District Chief Charlie Martin provided a briefing to the Kingwood Service Association (KSA) Public Safety Committee at its June 12 meeting regarding the impact of the weather events in mid-May and the status of current plans for the HFD in Kingwood. Two storms occurred recently, on Friday May 3 and Tuesday May 7. They were surprisingly violent and resulted in both damage and flooding, presenting sudden challenges to the community.
“On Friday, we had a severe rain event as the storm came across from Atascocita to Kingwood and we had a fatality when a tree hit a car. On Tuesday following that Friday, we had storms move into the area around noon and we started receiving water rescue requests on Kingwood Drive/Woodland Hills and Kingwood Drive/Trailwood Village. They were not our typical fire calls for high water in Kingwood,” Martin said. In addition, some Kingwood schools went into lockdown due to the rain and rising water.
“We started doing water rescues from then until midnight. We had 62 rescuers, three high water trucks, six evacuation boats and one rescue boat and we were running a unified command post out of the Kingwood Hospital parking lot with 52 evacuees. The rescues went on that night up into Elm Grove. There were about 450 homes flooded,” Martin said.
He noted following the Tuesday storm there was a threat of rain events for three or four days. He explained on Thursday night, May 9, HFD set up a unified command post and brought in extra assets (a truck and men assigned to it) and set up a special desk communications channel to enable coordinating with the additional assets during rescue efforts.
“That night was more of a non-event for this area but Huffman got hit really hard so we ended up reassigning assets to them,” said Martin. He noted the plans developed after Harvey were the plans used that night using a three-stage, command-post system that was able to better utilize the HFD assets as needed.
Martin addressed current plans for HFD coverage in the Kingwood district. They are the result of the flooded out fire station in Forest Cove near Hamblen Road and the impact of the organizational and equipment changes going on within the HFD citywide due to budgetary constraints. He explained plans are not yet finalized and are subject to change but that actual service levels and of dedicated assets for Kingwood, including people and equipment, will not be reduced. Dee Price of Sand Creek asked what the current plans were for locations of the fire stations and equipment within Kingwood.
Martin said, “So Station 104 (the flooded out Forest Cove station) is moved to Highway 494 right near McClellan. The second station we are going to put between 101 (currently nearest Highway 59 on Kingwood Dr.) and 102 (currently on West Lake Houston Pkwy) and a third station between 102 and 103 (currently on High Valley near Riverwood Middle School.)”
He explained the specific locations have yet to be determined but the end result will be for Kingwood to be served as well or better than it is now with three stations. They will have more capacity and there will be no assets out of Kingwood. He also noted station designation numbers may change.
In other business, Clarissa Perez of Houston Councilman Dave Martin’s office announced there is an intersection overlay under construction at Woodland Hills Dr. and Northpark Dr. It should be completed by the end of June. She pointed out the city is only doing the intersection itself with an asphalt overlay due to the upcoming complete Northpark Dr. reconstruction project scheduled over the next few years.
The next KSA Public Safety Committee Meeting will be Wednesday, July 10 at 7 p.m., at the South Woodland Hills Community Room, 2038 Shadow Rock. The public is invited to attend.