Like many people in Missouri City, Mitch Carter’s home flooded during Hurricane Harvey last year.
With the exception of one of his next-door neighbors, Carter said no one else in his community got water in their house. He believes his home flooded as a direct result of the reconstruction of the 15th hole of the city-owned Quail Valley Golf Course in 2009. He claims the removal of a berm along FM 1092 and the elevation of the golf course cut off a drain that took water away from his property.
“They cut the drain off and now my property is the drain,” he said.
Missouri City denies any responsibility.
“The City’s insurance company has determined that the damages or injuries to Mr. Carter’s property were not caused by any wrongful act, omission or negligence on the part of the City or any of its employees,” spokesman Cory Stottlemyer said in an emailed statement. “The City has no additional comments at this time.”
Carter and his wife Yolanda have lived in Missouri City for 20 years. Their home is uniquely located in a cul-de-sac on Thunderbird Street. Their back yard abuts a lake on the right and the golf course on the left. Carter said there was a small pond on the golf course and the ground used to be level from his property to near the intersection of FM 1092 and Cartwright Road.
After Missouri City purchased the golf course and raised the hole to street level, it left the course sloping down toward the enlarged pond – which was dug out to provide dirt for the elevation – and the homes to the south, primarily Carter’s home.
“There was a certain amount of water that went to the lake and a certain amount of water that went to the drain. Now the drain doesn’t get the water,” Carter said. “They have a very good drainage system there but the water can’t get to it… My house didn’t used to be the low area. They made the land higher than my house.”
For the first few years after the golf course was improved, the Carters didn’t have any problems. When the area did flood, the water never reached their property, and if it did, only the outer edge. They did notice the water encroaching more and more, but after the floods of 2015 and 2016, they felt they were safe. They felt safe enough that when Hurricane Harvey approached last year they had their children and grandchildren come over so they would be dry. On the night of Aug. 27 water breached the walls and eventually filled the house with a foot of water.
They fled the house in the middle of the night in a panic.
“We called for help but the city would not come,” Yolanda Carter said.
She said the next day a city truck came by, but the driver simply took a photograph and left.
Within a few days the Carters discovered that their next-door neighbor’s home got a couple inches of water. The neighbors on the other side stayed dry, as did the other homes in the neighborhood. Water flowed through the Carter’s property and flooded Thunderbird Street.
“It’s worsened since Harvey,” Carter said. “A lot of dirt has been washed out.”
Nearly a year later the Carters are still recovering. Some of the walls in their home are still stripped of drywall.
“We’ve made a lot of progress but we’re not finished,” Carter said. “We haven’t been back in our own beds in about a year.”
Last fall the Carters retained the services of attorney Steve Fernelius who wrote the city detailing the problem and demanding $100,000 payment to cover some of the expenses the Carters incurred from the flood. Payment was never made.
In the itemized accounting of damages Fernelius sent to the city, he estimated more than $146,000 in damages. The Carters lost two vehicles, had $16,000 in foundation repairs, lost most of their furniture, and personal belongings were ruined. The air conditioning unit, electrical wiring, and more had to be replaced.
Mitch Carter said he has tried to talk with city officials, but claims they do not listen to him. He said he took his first complaints to the golf course and was passed on to city staff and eventually to Mayor Allen Owen.
“Our mayor and our city staff is ignoring me. It’s like I’m some kind of outcast,” he said.
That more than anything is what has Carter so upset.
“If anything they should treat us like thy work for us. We don’t work for them,” he said. “They’re just trying to blow this off like it ain’t happening.”
Carter said it would take some simple work to protect his property and to correct the drainage issue, but he can’t get the city to take responsibility or action. He said he doesn’t want to sue the city, but he see’s little alternative at this point.
“I don’t like the way I’m being treated,” he said.