PRIVATE PROPERTY MAD MEN OVER THE WATERS

When we have floods like those in early July, think of William Powell. He has flood-proofed his White Rock Creek property-but in the process has infuriated City Hall.

“What he’s trying to do is build a levee around the house,” says Michael Askew of the Public Works Department. Askew says Powell’s levee has caused the flood level of the creek to rise by three feet. And that, says Askew, will cause twenty-six homes across the creek from Powell to flood. The city’s solution is to condemn the land, scrape off the fill dirt, and level Powell’s house.

Ironically, Powell says, he was working on flood control for the White Rock Creek area before the city even had a flood plain ordinance. Powell says he got involved after the big flood of 1964, in which thirty-six people died. But “once I got them organized down here, they started causing me problems,” he says.

Powell says the city made the mistake in allowing the twenty-six houses to be built. “They set the building level too low.” he says. But Askew insists that the houses were built above the hundred-year flood level, and that a new $390,000 flood control study of White Rock Creek proves it. Furthermore, he says, Powell’s levee poses a threat. “If we have another flood the size of the ’64 flood, those houses will flood,” Askew says.

However, Powell says that he’s not to blame. “It’s the city of Dallas that is causing these floods in the first place,” he says. By allowing developments such as shopping centers upstream, he says, the city has caused increased flooding due to the sudden rush of water off the huge parking lots. But Askew says that the current drainage system can handle the water, except for a few problems with illegal fill dirt such as Powell’s. “The city’s allowed filling all up and down the flood plain.” Powell retorts. “They can’t say “you can’t do it but we’ll let these others do it.’”

Askew says that if the city condemns the property, Powell will be paid a fair market price, but that the cost of hauling off the fill dirt could be deducted from that amount. And that makes Powell mad. “There’ll be a good fight about that,” he says.

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