Skip to main content

History Of The District


Shortly after the Allen brothers chose to establish Houston at the confluence of Buffalo and White Oak Bayous, virtually every structure in the new settlement flooded. The Flood District was created in response to repeated flooding problems and has evolved over time.Since its creation, the Flood Control District's role has become increasingly complex, and the District’s responsibilities now include many other facets that contribute to regional flood risk reduction.



  • 1900
    Major hurricane hits Galveston. Harris County experiences widespread flooding, with property damage at $30 to $40 million.
  • 1908
    First drainage district created in Harris County in Brays Bayou watershed.
  • “I have seen several hundred acres under water for days after a large rain. A complete system of drainage will do away with such cases and be a big benefit to the health of the community.” George F. Horton, Drainage Engineer | November 10th, 1908
  • 1915
    Another Galveston hurricane causes major damages throughout Harris County, estimated at $56 million.
  • 1916
    USGS publishes first topographic maps for Harris County.
  • 1929
    Enormous gulf storm descends on Houston and Harris County with up to 10 inches of rain.


  • 1935
    Massive storm hits Houston and Harris County. Overwhelming devastation leads to creation of HCFCD.
  • In response to floods that devastated the region in 1929 and 1935, the Harris County Flood Control District was created by the Texas Legislature in 1937 as a special purpose district. 1937
  • 1943
    Hurricane near Galveston creates extensive flooding for Harris County. $16.5 million in damages.
  • 1950
    By 1950, the District had cleared 5,000 acres of land along streams, channelized 1,260 stream miles, acquired 3,470 right-of-way tracts, and excavated 25 million cubic yards of earth.


  • 1966
    The District and Houston created the first of 11 comprehensive master drainage plans covering the major watersheds.
  • 1973
    Harris County joined the National Flood Insurance Program
  • Three major floods hit the regions, including Tropical Storm Claudette, which brought record rainfall amounts to the area and had a total damage of over $700 million. New U.S. 24-hour rainfall record is set in Alvin at 45 inches. July 1979
  • 1980
    Harris County approved an interim policy on flood control improvements and drainage criteria
  • 1985
    FEMA published Flood Insurance Rate Maps for all 34 Harris County communities. Houston and harris County updated their flood plain development regulations.


  • 1994
    Major storm in southeast Texas. Many bayous overflowed. More than 3,200 homes flooded. White Oak Bayou Initial Phase Regional Detention and Channel completed.
  • 1998
    The District pursued approximately 60 capital projects.
  • 2000's
    TSARP, LiDAR technology – Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Project
  • 2018
    NOAA Atlas 14 released, which includes increased estimates to the total precipitation in standard return period events such as the “100-year”.
  • Hurricane Ike strikes Galveston Island. 11 deaths in Harris County. 3,700 structures flood. More than $28 billion in damage make it the 3rd costliest in U.S. history. 2008


  • 2017
    Hurricane Harvey hits and 1 trillion gallons of water fell across Harris County over a 4-day period, impacting each of Harris County’s 22 watersheds, an flooding more than 120,000 structures in Harris County, alone.



  • 1900
    September - Major hurricane hits Galveston. The "Great Galveston Storm" is the worst natural disaster to date in U.S. history. Loss of life reported to be 6,000 to 8,000 citizens. Harris County experiences widespread flooding, with property damage at $30 to $40 million.
  • 1907
    Major storm floods much of Houston and Harris County.
  • 1908
    First drainage district created in Harris Conty in Brays Bayou watershed.


  • 1911-1914
    Houston Ship Channel construction begins.
  • 1913
    December - Major Brazos River storm spreads to Harris County. Entire area is hard hit. Buffalo, White Oak, Brays and Greens Bayous are all out of banks. Many citizens evacuate.
  • 1914
    Houston Ship Channel opens.
  • 1915
    August - Another Galveston hurricane causes major damages throughout Harris County. Buffalo Bayou and widespread areas of Houston experience heavy flooding. Damage estimated at $56 million.
  • 1916
    The United States Geological Survey publishes topographic maps for Harris County.


  • 1929
    April - Enormous gulf storm descends on Houston and Harris County and lasts 14 hours. Many areas of county report rainfall close to 10 inches. Extensive damage sustained to structures in almost all of Harris County. All bayous are reported to be out of banks.
  • 1929
    May - As the area is still reeling from the last storm, another major storm hits Harris County. Structural damage, heavy street flooding and widespread crop damage reported. San Jacinto River 30 feet above normal.


  • 1930
    May - Large rainstorm cell remains stationary over Harris County for 3 days. Rainfall amounts reported as high as 12.5 inches. Entire area averages 8 inches.
  • 1932
    August - Hurricane hits Freeport, taking 40 lives. Harris County has widespread flooding on all bayous.
  • 1935
    December - Massive storm inundates Houston and Harris County. Buffalo Bayou 52 feet above normal. Overwhelming devastation leads to creation of the Harris County Flood Control District in 1937.


  • 1940
    November - Heavy rains last for 5 days in Northeast Harris County. 10,000 head of cattle lost.
  • 1943
    July - Hurricane near Galveston creates extensive flooding for Harris County. $16.5 million in damages.
  • 1943
    October - Hurricane near Freeport. More than 11,000 structures flood in Harris County.
  • 1945
    August - Area hurricane produces heaviest rainfall ever recorded in Harris County. More than 15 inches in 24 hours. Flooding reported on all bayous.


  • 1950
    February - Thunderstorm precedes cold front, resulting in Greens Bayou running out of bans. Area residents evacuate. Baytown also reports flooding.
  • 1955
    May - Major thunderstorm hits northern portion of Harris County. Structure flooding reported in the area.
  • 1957
    June - Hurricane Audrey crosses the Louisiana/Texas coast. Flooding is reported in Harris County.
  • 1959
    October - Thunderstorm floods more than 100 structures in Houston area.


  • 1960
    June - Thunderstorm inundates many area throughout Harris County. Cypress Creek, Spring Creek and San Jacinto River experience flooding. Over 200 families evacuate.
  • 1961
    September - Hurricane Carla pounds the Gulf Coast, taking 34 lives. It is the largest hurricane ever recorded, with property damages exceeding $300 million. Heavy flooding reported in Southern Harris County.
  • 1969
    February - Thunderstorm precedes cold front, flooding more than 250 area structures. Damages exceed $3.3 million.


  • 1972
    March - Thunderstorm precedes cold front and floods much of northern Harris County. More than 700 families evacuate.
  • 1973
    Major storm hits Harris County and bring 10-15 inches of rain. Sims and Greens bayous are reported out of banks. 10 lives are lost and damages exceed $50 million.
  • 1979
    July - Tropical Storm Claudette brings record rainfall amounts to the area. A U.S.-record of 43 inches of rain in 24 hours falls in Alvin. Total damages exceed $700 million.


  • 1983
    May - Large thunderstorm floods areas along several bayous. Damages exceed $14 million.
  • 1983
    August - Hurricane Alicia strikes Galveston and Harris County. Damages approach $1 billion, mostly due to wind.
  • 1983
    September - Nine inches of rain falls south of downtown. More than 1,000 structures flood along Brays Bayou. Damages top $38 million.
  • 1984
    October - Thunderstorm in northern Harris County floods more than 200 structures. Total damages exceed $32 million.
  • 1989
    May & June - Two separate storms result in two back-to-back presidential disaster declarations.


  • 1992
    March - Major storm floods more than 1,500 structures and many bayous are out of banks. Much of I-10 is under water.
  • 1994
    October - Major storm hits Harris County. Twice as many structures flood than in the 1992 storm.
  • 1998
    September - Tropical Storm Francis causes extensive flooding along White Oak Bayou and other bayous. More than 1,300 structures flood.
  • 1998
    October & November - Adding insult to injury, two more major storms flood hundreds more structures, mainly in north Harris County.


  • 2001
    June - Tropical Storm Allison strikes first on June 5; returns three days later for a second round of storms. Texas Medical Center essentially shut down. North Downtown Houston decimated. Two million people impacted; 22 lives lost. More than 70,000 structures flood. Damages top $5 billion.
  • 2006
    June 19 - Rainfall on already saturated ground floods 3,370 homes, 561 apartments and one nursing home, mostly along Berry and Sims bayous. Rainfall 8-10 inches in three hours.
  • 2008
    Hurricane Ike made landfall at Galveston Island with 110 mph sustained winds, a strong Category 2. The landfall of Ike resulted in extensive storm surge flooding, wind damage and rainfall flooding across all of Harris and surrounding counties.
  • 2009
    April 17-28 brings extensive flooding; five children drown when a car goes into a Greens Bayou tributary. Some highways close; record high water on Bear, Langham, Mayde creeks. 2,305 structures flood on Langham Creek and Buffalo Bayou. HCFCD records one-hour rainfall of 6.9 inches at Clear Creek.


  • 2012
    July - High water rescues along Cypress, Little Cypress and Willow creeks after several days of heavy rainfall beginning July 9. More than 70 structures flood in northern Harris County.
  • 2014
    August - Slow-moving rains drench portions of Harris County with 3.5-4.5 inches. In the Greens Bayou watershed, 109 structures flood.
  • 2015
    May 25-27 - Memorial Day Flood. More than 6,000 structures flood. Seven fatalities. Highest rainfall recorded in Buffalo and Brays watersheds. Nearly 11 inches in 3 hours in Brays Bayou.
  • 2016
    April 17-18 - Tax Day Flood. HIstoric flood over northern and western Harris County results in seven fatalities. Average 12-16 inches of rain in 12 hours countywide; record pool levels in Addicks and Barker reservoirs. Estimated 9,820 structures flood in Harris County.
  • 2016
    May 26-27 - Memorial Day Flood. North and northwest Harris County hit with 8-13 inches of rain. Overbank and structural flooding along Spring, Willow, Little Cypress and Cypress creeks, San Jacinto River. More than 400 structures flood in Harris County and more than 900 in the Spring Creek watershed in Montgomery County.