Raizner Slania has filed an inverse condemnation lawsuit on behalf of four homeowners whose homes were flooded by the Addicks and Barker Reservoir releases in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Unprecedented Rainfall From Hurricane Harvey
When Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast in late August, it dropped an unprecedented amount of rainfall across Houston. Despite this rainfall, all of the plaintiffs’ homes initially escaped catastrophic flooding. However, the rainfall filled the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers then made the decision to release floodwaters into Buffalo Bayou, knowing that this controlled release would inundate the plaintiffs’ homes.
The reservoirs were built after a catastrophic flood in 1935 to protect downtown Houston from future flooding. By 2009, the dams were deemed to be in “extremely high risk of catastrophic failure.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns and operates the dams, which were in the middle of a $75 million renovation when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. Most of the time, the dams are open, allowing water to flow through to Buffalo Bayou. However, whenever there is heavy rainfall, the Army Corps of Engineers closes the dams.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made the initial decision to pool water within the resevoirs and inundated properties upstream of the reservoirs. Then, they made the decision to release floodwaters downstream into Buffalo Bayou, which inundated thousands of downstream homes and businesses.
The Army Corps of Engineers knew this widespread flooding would occur as a result of the releases, constituting a taking of private property for public use.
Under the Fifth Amendment, the U.S. government must fairly compensate property owners when taking private land for public use. When the government takes land without following eminent domain procedures, including failing to provide just compensation, it is called inverse condemnation. When inverse condemnation occurs, property owners have a right to file a lawsuit against the government to obtain their rightful compensation.
Inverse Condemnation Claims After Hurricane Harvey
When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began controlled inundations and releases from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs after Hurricane Harvey, it effectively took away private property for public use. Ownerswners whose properties survived did not flood because of the catastrophic rain, but flooded as a result of the reservoir releases will need help obtaining compensation. The experienced inverse condemnation lawyers at Raizner Slania can help you understand your legal rights and pursue compensation on your behalf. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.