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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Flooding Has Been a Perennial Risk Near the Trinity River in Dallas

12/2/2020 (Permalink)

SERVPRO green boxtruck at worksite SERVPRO provides cutting edge equipment and skilled technicians to grapple with flood damage, cleanup, and restoration in the Greater Dallas Area.

Despite More Than a Century of Flood Minimization Efforts, Dallas Residents Still Face Flooding Events

Why SERVPRO Stands Ready to Address All Aspects of Storm and River-Based Damage

Although current residents of Dallas become uneasy when record-breaking storms cause the Trinity River to rise, over one-hundred years ago, the city's predecessors had a catastrophic story to tell. In 1908 a weather system dumped up to 15 inches of water upstream over three days. Once in the city, the waters of the Trinity rose to 52.6 feet. Eleven people died, and over 4000 individuals abandoned their homes, attempting to find higher ground for safety.

How Did the 1908 Flooding Affect the City?

Nearly all of the downtown area flooded, and West Dallas was completely submerged. The 1908 flood caused an estimated five million dollars worth of damage, the equivalent of at least 150 million dollars today.

  • In terms of impact on the population and property, the 1908 Trinity River flood is considered the largest recorded in Dallas.
  • At the height of the flooding, the Trinity River spanned about two miles between downtown and West Dallas.
  • Three days with no power, telephone, telegraph, or rail services followed.
  • Some neighborhoods of Dallas could be reached only by boat, including Oak Cliff.

Were Efforts Made to Prevent Future Flooding?

City leaders realized the citizens and Dallas's infrastructure could not withstand repeated flooding events of this magnitude. Although immediate prevention of future disasters was impossible, Dallas sought comprehensive planning to avoid or significantly minimize the effects of flooding during future rainy seasons. Government officials tapped Geroge Kessler, a German-born and educated city planner and landscape architect, whose family emigrated to the United States in 1865. He lived in Dallas during his teenage years before returning to Germany for his formal training. Kessler's work during the St. Louis World's Fair was considered impressive, and he drafted a plan by 1911 for Dallas. In addition to recommendations for a system of levees to hold back the waters, Kessler's plan included elegant and decorative elements including:

  • Parks
  • Boulevards
  • Plazas
  • Fountains

Was Kessler's Plan Implemented?

Not all of these features of the plan reached a realization. Even the earthen levees intended to prevent the damage of another flood were deferred. Eventually, the city put levees in place, but it took decades to complete those envisioned by Kessler and many more years to upgrade and improve the configuration. The levee system currently in place begins along the Trinity River's Elm Fork and West Fork and then moves into downtown Dallas, now known as the Dallas Floodway. Additional levees located in the Dallas Floodway Extension Project area run along the southern Trinity River corridor, termed as the Rochester Levee and the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant levees. Pertinent facts about the current levees include:

  • It took until 1932 for workers to complete the original East and West Levee Systems.
  • During the 1950s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers planned and implemented upgrades to the original levees.
  • The 23 miles of levees in the Dallas Floodway feature heights of 29 to 32 feet.
  • Only in the 1990s did the Rochester Levee join the system, and were improvements made to the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant Levee.
  • Over 51 square miles of the Trinity River watershed flow through sumps and drainage systems intended to protect the city lands behind the levees.
  • A total of seven pump stations move potential floodwaters from the sumps positioned behind the Dallas Floodway and the Rochester levees, discharging the waters into the Trinity River downstream.

What Is in Store for the Dallas Flood Plains in the Future?

The Trinity River Corridor Project's vision goal is to reimagine the areas adjacent to the Trinity River in Dallas. In the early 2000s, the concern about the aesthetics of the "drainage ditch" the Trinity River became in downtown Dallas after the erection of flood protections gained momentum. Residents and visitors in  Dallas desire more recreational use of the river and a return to green spaces, resulting in the Trinity River Project's slow but relentless development work.

What Are the Major Components of the Trinity River Corridor Project?

The project goals are to transform the river's path into sports venues, trails, meadows, nature centers, and other recreational options. Headway has occurred, with substantial projects still in process. Comprising 10,000 acres, the outdoor space ultimately will be among the most extensive of U.S.urban parklands. A unique feature within the area is the Great Trinity Forest, made up of 6,000 acres of bottomland forest, the largest such wooded urban area globally.

Can Flooding Occur in Dallas Residential Areas Despite the Levees?

When heavy rains pour down, Dallas homes are at risk of overland as well as river flooding. Wind damage can also expose a home to flood water through exterior damage. Lining up a reputable disaster recovery firm immediately after the crisis is critical, why we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What Qualification Should Homeowners Expect from Flood Mitigation and Remediation Companies?

Dallas flood damage needs a fast response from highly-qualified companies and their technicians. The preeminent training offered by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is why SERVPRO chooses it for our workers when obtaining both basic and advanced certifications in the following specialties:

  • Water Damage Restoration Technician (WRT)
  • Applied Structural Drying (ASD)
  • Applied Microbial Remediation Technician (AMRT)
  • Building Moisture Thermography (BMT)
  • Odor Control Technician (OCT)

How do Professionals Manage Flood Recovery?

The foundation of a successful flood intervention is the accuracy and thoroughness of the initial assessment, why SERVPRO's seasoned managers make such a difference in the outcome. After a safety walkthrough, the project lead gives the go-ahead for emergency services, completed promptly by our crews. All needed equipment arrives in the service vehicles with our workers, preventing even momentary delays. Removal of silt and solid debris precedes pumping and extraction, with on-board generators for our truck-mounted equipment eliminating response issues if residential power is down.

Top-notch training and equipment, along with extensive experience, are why SERVPRO of Southeast Dallas County is the solution to your flood damage concerns. Call us at (972) 227-0800 for a quick assessment and rapid removal and drying of flooding.

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