Construction causing Port Neches drainage issues; city and residents search for solution

Published 12:48 am Saturday, February 18, 2023

PORT NECHES — For the second time in less than two years, Herring Avenue homeowners approached the City Council regarding draining issues that have resulted from new development on the neighboring street.

“I’ve never had to worry about water in the house,” said Stephen Barclay, who bought his residence in the 1500 block of Herring Avenue in 1994. “Even during Harvey, I did not have any water in my house.”

But on Thanksgiving, he told councilmembers as he held a large board covered with pictures of flooding in the neighborhood, he had to leave work early because rising water entered the residence. And now he intends to purchase flood insurance for the first time since purchasing his home.

Stephen Barclay said this week that ongoing development on Bowlin Avenue is causing flooding issues for neighboring homes on Herring Avenue. (Courtesy photo)

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“I’m a disabled veteran, and sitting on my back porch in the evenings sometimes, watching the dogs play, the birds, squirrels, whatever — that helps me,” he said. “My backyard is a swamp right now.”

Also present was Jason Owens, who is also a disabled veteran with a service animal.

At times, due to high water, the dog cannot go outside.

The new construction stems from a public hearing in September 2021 regarding a replat request from Johnsye and Rhonda McDonald, who intended for five single-family homes to be built on Bowlin Avenue.

Present at the meeting was Melanie Britnell, who owns a home directly to the right of Barclay. At the time, she said she was not against the replat but wanted assurance there would be proper drainage that would not impact her property.

Britnell was present Thursday, as well.

“Since homes started going up and built the land up, it’s caused our yards to flood,” she told Port Arthur Newsmedia Friday. “When I complained to them that day, I was hoping they would help with the issue.”

Britnell and her husband live in Bridge City, but rent the Herring Avenue home.

Several Herring Avenue homeowners approached Port Neches City Council to discuss drainage in their neighborhood. (Courtesy photo)

“It was my home,” she said. “I raised my babies there, and my parents lived there prior. And my aunt and uncle lived there prior to that. There was never any flooding.”

In less than two years, they’ve spent approximately $1,000 in dirt and also dug a large ditch, which she said has helped some. But the runoff onto her property has also caused the dirt to erode.

“Their houses are gorgeous,” she said. “They’re just beautiful. But we’ve all worked hard to get what we have.”

According to the Texas Water Code, “no person may divert or impound the natural flow of surface waters in this state, or permit a diversion or impounding by him to continue, in a manner that damages the property of another by the overflow of the water diverted or impounded.”

City Manager Andre Wimer said Thursday the property owners agreed to a drainage easement.

“On the new homes, they need to be draining towards Bowlin,” he said.

Wimer also told Barclay and the four other Herring Avenue homeowners that he would meet with Public Works Director Clint Fore to see what could be done.

“The city manager made some comments that pleased me,” Britnell said. “I feel like because it wasn’t just my husband and I but several neighbors that have been impacted, they’re hearing it now.”