Park Under Water

Buffalo Bayou Park withstands big storm but grand opening delayed; dog park temporarily closes

Buffalo Bayou Park withstands big storm, but grand opening delayed

News, Shelby, Buffalo Bayou Park flood, May 2015
Buffalo Bayou Park on Tuesday more lake than playground. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Buffalo Bayou Park, May 2015
Flood damage appeared to be only among the older, larger trees. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Buffalo Bayou Park, May 2015
Magnolias at the Police Memorial are standing tall, blossoms in tact. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Buffalo Bayou Park, May 2015
The well-staked younger trees on Allen Parkway side of the park survive flood waters. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Buffalo Bayou Park, May 2015
New plantings along Memorial Drive are standing tall.  Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Buffalo Bayou Park tree planting, Feb. 2015
New plantings at Buffalo Bayou Park in February. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Buffalo Bayou Park flood, May 2015
News, Shelby, Buffalo Bayou Park, May 2015
News, Shelby, Buffalo Bayou Park, May 2015
News, Shelby, Buffalo Bayou Park, May 2015
News, Shelby, Buffalo Bayou Park, May 2015
News, Shelby, Buffalo Bayou Park tree planting, Feb. 2015

The $58 million Buffalo Bayou Park flowed like a mighty river during this week's flood. That and the continuous rainy days of May have led to the postponement of the June 20 grand opening   "Create, Recreate and Celebrate" happening.

The public celebration will be rescheduled in the fall.

 "Everything that we've done is designed to survive a major flood. We just didn't anticipate that it could be this bad." 

"As the water recedes, Buffalo Bayou Partnership will evaluate the situation," a Wednesday release noted. "However, the preliminary assessment is that the park did not experience major damage."

One area that will be closed temporarily is the Johnny Steele Dog Park, where storm debris needs to be removed. The constant rainfall has hindered completion of Lost Lake and The Water Works, both expected to be major park destinations when completed.

While it might be hard to believe that the 14,000 trees and untold number of new plants were basically unharmed, the Partnership memo continued, "Park amenities such as the benches, trash receptacles, lighting, etc. were designed to withstand severe storm water events and the expectation is that much of the cleanup will involve mud and sediment removal along the trails, and trash removal throughout the park. Maintenance teams will work as quickly and safely as possible on the cleanup."

Partnership president Anne Olson tells CultureMap, "Everything that we've done is designed to survive a major flood. We just didn't anticipate that it could be this bad."

The young trees were strongly staked, she added, and the perennial gardens were planted at street level to protect them from high water. Although those plants were under water on Tuesday, they were high and dry and looking healthy on Wednesday.

The construction and operations crew made this assessment early afternoon on Tuesday, "Only a small area of the Wortham Fountain area went under water, and all gardens seemed to have survived quite well.  Most trees did fine.  There are a few spots where small trees were bent over.  They were planted recently, and we should be able to right them.  It is hard to tell with the water still high, but a few pre-existing trees may have been knocked sideways, also." 

"The biggest issues," Olson said, "will be dealing with mud, silt and debris . . . Work crews from the parks department are already out today doing what they can."