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25 Investigates: Woodway woman claims she can't sell her home due to severe flooding due to city street drain

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Posted at 7:26 AM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 19:31:37-05

WOODWAY, TX — A puddle-filled backyard caused by severe flooding - for one Woodway resident, Esmeralda Reyes, this is her reality.

"The amount of water that's coming through here is to the extent that's its completely running over the creek into the backyard, getting up under my house and into our bedroom as well," Reyes said.

Reyes says the flooding problem started several years ago when the city of Woodway put in street drains creating a water influx in the creek behind her home. But the flooding worsened over time.

"Things really got bad when the construction started for the Primrose School of Waco. We continued to get excessive water flow throughout the construction and here recently (after they opened) with the retention pond that, they created," Reyes said.

"They" would be city officials.

Fed up with the extreme flooding, Reyes decided to put her home on the market. Within days, she says a buyer was willing to pay $210,000, but once an inspection of the property was completed, she says the buyer pulled out.

"Specifically, the report says that there is notable draining issues where it's gotten under the house and impacted the pier (it's a pier and beam home)," she said.

She claims the extreme flooding created visible water markings in her yard.

She reached out to the city of Woodway in June to seek help, but before she did, she shared her nightmare with her neighbor Saundra Karnes. "I've lived here for 37 years and I've had this problem the whole time that I have lived here" says Karnes, regarding the extreme flooding issue.

Woodway sent out Community Services/Development Department Director, Mitch Davison to see what was going on.

Reyes decided to record her conversation with Davison during the land survey. She turned that recording over to 25 Investigates as proof that the city wasn't addressing her concerns.

When Reyes asked why the city hadn't dealt with the extreme flooding issues before or fix the drainage in that area, Davison replied, "I know why they did it...they didn't want to pay for anything more back in those days. The builders and developers in the 60s particularly didn't worry about storm water at all."

During their conversation, Davison claimed he could get a crew out to Reyes' home with an excavator.

"We typically don't do anything on private property unless there's a reason for it. I think we can help here, but I know how the new City Manager is...he's going to say well get them to sign the right of entry form. It's a real simple form that we've created. It's just going to say we're going to come try to fix this, but you're not going to sue us just for fixing it," he said.

Fearing she wouldn't be protected by the city's work, Reyes hired an attorney. She claims once she decided to do that - talks between her, Davison and city manager, Shawn Oubre, stalled.

"I hear what Mrs. Reyes says" exclaimed Oubre. "I heard it when we went to visit her. And that's a disagreement that we're currently in the process of trying to get through. I haven't been there when there's an extreme rain. I haven't been there when there's a light rain, but I can see the drainage pattern and where it outflows in between the two driveways."

Since Oubre hadn't seen examples of Mrs. Reyes' extreme rain, we showed him several flooding videos that she shared with 25 Investigates.

When asked what he would do if he were in a situation like Mrs. Reyes, where he couldn't sell his house and is sort of stuck, Oubre replied, "This isn't about me."

To that, 25 Investigates said:

"You're right, it's about a hard-working taxpayer from the city of Woodway asking her city to help her out, give her some relief. And, it seems as if to her it's a game that's being played that's been played with her neighbor for 37 years. So, other viewers are watching this going: how's the city ever going to help me if I have issues like this. What would you say to them?"

Oubre said "I would ask them to call. Let us take a look at it. We may be able to address some of it, we may be able to address all of it, but just give us the opportunity."

For now, the city and Reyes are at an impasse. The next move for the city is to conduct an engineering study on and around the property.

25 Investigates sat down with Ryan DeLeon, President of Vantage Point Inspections, to see what homeowners should look out for when it comes to home inspections.