Hurricane Harvey, and the subsequent flooding, was a devastating occurrence in eastern Texas, but it was not a surprise to the team at the Harris County Flood Control District in Houston, TX. The District was first established in 1937 following two major floods within six years and started installing their Flood Warning System in 1982. Since 2010, the District has partnered with OTT Hydromet to expand their network, and install various sensors which measure water level responses in creeks and bayous. Water level measurements provide critical information needed by first responders and the National Weather Service when making decisions on issuing targeted flood warnings and properly messaging needed actions.
Jeff Lindner, Director of Hydrologic Operations at the District, stated, "We could not do what we do during flood operations without the water level devices."
For detecting rate of rise at designated stream gage locations, the OTT RLS and CBS sensors measure water level using proven water level measurement techniques that are unaffected by rising flood waters. This critical data is transmitted in real time and can be viewed on the Harris County Flood Warning System website, http://www.harriscountyfws.org/.
"With the current system, it is an anomaly to have incorrect data" Lindner said.
Post Hurricane Harvey, it was imperative that OTT Hydromet contact the Harris County Flood Control District to find out first, how they were affected by the storm and the massive flooding event. Secondly, the status of the gage stations and their water level sensors. They also needed to check that their instruments performed to their satisfaction in such demanding environmental conditions.
David Procyk, OTT Hydromet Region Manager, soon shared the good news.
"All ~80 OTT sensors deployed around Houston (in the flood warning network) worked flawlessly," he said. "Two of the OTT RLS, radar level sensors, were submerged in a 40ft rise - right in downtown Houston - but data resumed once levels receded. Our sensors were the critical 'heartbeat' - when the city was literally going underwater."
Following the event, OTT Hydromet Group President Anton Felder emphasized the importance of good instruments and being close to our customer.
"At OTT Hydromet, our mission is to help water professionals generate reliable data throughout the entire water cycle," said Felder. "We go beyond simply providing solutions by partnering with our customers in designing effective answers to the challenges they encounter in their vital role of monitoring the world's water."
Everyone at OTT Hydromet feels honored and privileged to have been able to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.