HOUSTON - Residents still rebuilding from Harvey were just dealt a big blow after a federal judge dismissed their lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers. Many of the homes are in West Houston that flooded during Harvey after the reservoir gates were opened.
So what will happen now that a judge has ruled against the residents who flooded there?
"I’m sick to my stomach. We lost a lot of our house. We had water four feet high,” explains West Houston resident Andre Landon who is just one of many saying when the gates were opened by the Army Corps of Engineers and water was released from the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs it caused devastating flooding inside their homes.
“And they released it when we were asleep. So we didn’t even have the opportunity to prepare. We woke up in the morning and we had water. We had no reaction time, no time to save what we could. So we ended up losing a lot more than we should have,” says Landon.
“The damage was caused by…an Act of God, which the government neither caused nor committed," Judge Loren Smith wrote in a 19-page ruling.
"The rain was an act of God but releasing the flood gates was an act of somebody else besides God,” says Landon.
"This fight isn’t over. There are about 10,000 people we believe that were damaged because of the released water,” adds attorney for many of the flood victims Jack McGehee.
The lawsuit that was dismissed is from residents downstream of the dams, south, and east of the I-10 Energy Corridor. A different judge recently ruled in favor of residents who sued who live upstream.
"I’ll let the judicial system work that out. Our job is to do everything we can to mitigate the risk of flooding. That’s why for example we are moving forward on our infrastructure projects to mitigate the risk of flooding,” explains Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
The army is said to have made the decision to release the water to minimize damage.
"Everybody thought those dams might completely breach and if that had happened we would have had so much downstream flooding we never would have recovered from it,” says Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan.
"At least legally they’re not upset with what the Corps did. Their property was sacrificed for the greater good, saved a lot of damage from downtown Houston but when you do that you’re entitled to just compensation,” says McGehee.
"It’s cost us so much more than even flood insurance covered. It’s kind of a financial disaster,” Landon explains.
"We’re going to continue the fight. Nobody’s going to turn around and go home,” adds McGehee who says “we are weighing our options” and deciding the best way to go about appealing.