The New York Times recently released a short documentary on the neighborhood of Cinco Ranch, located just inside the city boundaries of Houston, Texas. The area, like the rest of Houston, was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey and is only now beginning to recover. However, one distinction about Cinco Ranch was that this neighborhood was built to be flooded.
The homes in Cinco Ranch are situated next to two reservoirs, in an area named an emergency lake bed, or “flood pool,” by the federal government. In case of flooding, this neighborhood is meant to be inundated in order to protect downtown Houston. However, many homeowners were not made aware of this fact when they purchased their homes, leading many to question why the houses were built in the first place.
Cinco Ranch is also unique in that the area is governed by municipal utility districts (MUDs), not local government. Cinco Ranch is divided into 16 different MUDs, making it difficult for residents to find resources in times of disaster. This problem is exacerbated because the MUDs have no physical or online presence. Many Cinco Ranch residents had no idea who they were governed by until Harvey struck.
Though Hurricane Harvey may seem like old news to many Americans, the recovery process is far from over. In Cinco Ranch, the residents are questioning if they even want to rebuild their homes at all. Those who stay, either by choice or out of necessity, must swallow the fact that their homes will almost certainly be destroyed again. While The New York Times has promised more documentary videos about Cinco Ranch, this issue should have received national attention before Harvey struck in the first place.