Fleeing The Fast-Rising White Oak Bayou: ‘It Was Pretty Crazy’

On the edge of the Houston Heights neighborhood are the White Oak Condominiums. Monday night, Mike Centra got a call from his buddies telling him to get back to their two-story condo because the water was coming up fast.

By Dave FehlingMay 27, 2015 8:50 am|

This story originally appeared on Houston Public Media.

On the edge of the Houston Heights neighborhood are the White Oak Condominiums. Monday night, Mike Centra got a call from his buddies telling him to get back to their two-story condo because the water was coming up fast.

“This place started to flood, so we got everything off the first floor and got it upstairs, and probably about 1 o’clock the water was up to our knees and that’s when we got out,” Centra told News 88.7. “We actually had our dogs with us, carried them over our heads, and it was up to our stomachs when we walked out the front door. So it was pretty crazy.”

Crazy, but not horribly costly because he said their valuables were high and dry on the second floor and no one, including the dogs, was hurt.

“We’re OK and that’s all that matters, I guess, “ said Centra.

White Oak Bayou runs into downtown Houston where it joins Buffalo Bayou and —  as happened during Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 — that convergence spelled trouble for the Harris County Criminal Courts building. Generators powered pumps to get water out of the courthouse basement so that crews from CenterPoint Energy could start replacing electrical equipment that got soaked.

A few blocks away at 800 Commerce Street, flood waters were still flowing onto the sidewalk Tuesday morning from inside a law office conference room. A floor to ceiling window had blown out.

“It was like a river at 2 o’clock in the morning right here, “ said Leopaldo Valencia who manages the building.

He said tenants on the ground floor had losses.

“They lost everything from their computers to paperwork, but everyone here pretty much has all their stuff on disc, saved everything, scanned everything,” Valencia said.

He said their building was also flooded by Allison, but the water level back then reached 16 feet inside their building; this time, he said it was only half that high.