Port Neches residents continue to battle flooding following development

Published 12:24 am Friday, June 30, 2023

PORT NECHES — For the first time since buying his house in December 1994, Stephen Barclay recently purchased flood insurance.

The Herring Avenue resident in Port Neches hadn’t dealt with flooding until approximately two years ago, when construction on the lots behind his house created drainage issues.

In the last two years, Barclay as well as several other Herring Avenue residents have approached City Council regarding the issue in hopes of a solution. And now, Barclay is preparing to make another appearance.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I just want to be left alone,” he said. “This is something I’ve never had to deal with since I moved here. I get Port Neches is landlocked. I get they want new development on every piece of land they can for property tax and everything. But come on, people.”

In February, Barclay was joined at City Council by Herring Avenue residents Jason Owens and Melanie Britnell who all experienced extreme flooding on their property after construction began on Bowlin Avenue. The development 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.

Britnell, who lives in Orange County but rents her Port Neches house, said she had spent approximately $1,000 in dirt and dug a large ditch on her property to prevent flooding.

New development behind Stephen Barclay’s house is approximately two feet higher than his property. (Monique Batson/The News)

Barclay has now built three ditches. The first runs to the right of his house next to his fence. The second is to the right of his house between his and Britnell’s residence. And the most recent runs on the left of his house to the ditch in front.

In the backyard, he’s started to stack blocks of concrete and wood along the bottom of his fence to divert water into the self-dug ditches.

“I will compliment the city; they did come through,” Barclay said. “They cut ditches and the pipes out on Bowlin and Herring — great work, they did an amazing job.”

But, he added, the property owners behind them are not creating enough drainage to divert their floodwater to the front of their property.

Public Works Director Clint Fore said he and other city officials have met with property owners on Herring to discuss options on improving the situation.

“A lot have followed through with the recommendations and tremendously improved the drainage,” he said.

The city hired a private firm to fly a drone over the area to obtain elevation levels, which they’ve shared with all interested properties.

Barclay said the map showed the house directly behind his had been built nearly two feet higher than his back yard.

Fore said there are rules in place that requires new construction to be built three feet above flood elevation; however, that does not apply in Port Neches as there are no designated flood zones.

Each property owner, he said, is responsible for drainage on their own property.

Barclay said he hopes the issue is enforced for those that have built homes behind his.

“It can simply just be a second of the ground that’s been grated properly,” he said. “Trying to do the right thing, trying to be a good citizen — whether we have barbecues and drink beer together or we never talk, I’m just trying to do the right thing.”