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Kingwood High School Flood Protection

Engineering a climate-resilient future

Project Facts

Location Kingwood, Texas
Owner Humble Independent School District
Status Completed 2023


Hurricane Harvey dumped 30 to 40 inches on Kingwood in 2017, and would be the third of four major floods to damage the 50-acre Kingwood High School Campus between 2016 and 2019. When FEMA granted Humble Independent School District $28 million to address flood mitigation, they trusted the expert Walter P Moore team to spearhead a comprehensive disaster preparedness upgrade, which included automatic flood gates at entrances, flood walls ranging from four to eight feet, and the replacement of front windows with aquarium glass. This groundbreaking effort not only raises the standard for disaster preparedness, but stands as a model for neighboring Gulf Coast communities.

Kingwood High School Flood Protection

Kingwood High School Flood Protection

Kingwood High School Flood Protection

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About the project

The pressing need for flood protection at Kingwood High School stems from its unfortunate history of enduring three floods in just four years, including the 2016 Tax Day Flood, Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and Tropical Storm Imelda in 2019. Harvey alone caused an estimated $75 million in damage when eight feet of water rushed into the school, causing the gym floor to curl up and float, flooding the school’s theater and athletics facilities, and destroying about $1.2 million in musical instruments and supplies. 

Following Hurricane Harvey, the City of Houston mandated that school buildings in floodplains have their floors elevated three feet above the 500-year floodplain. The Kingwood High School campus is situated within the 100- and 500-year floodplains near the San Jacinto River, necessitating eight feet of protection in the front and 3.5 feet in the rear for the existing.

Our team’s comprehensive study identified the need for flood protection measures at entrances, windows, and utility stub-outs, employing a passive system. The solution for this campus combined multiple strategies that work together, such as eight-foot flood protection in the front featuring float-up gates, external wall connections, and a new flood-resistant structure. In the rear, 3.5-foot flood protection incorporated float-up gates connected to replacement walls and new walls on the existing structure’s face. Special areas, like the auto shop, have external flood protection spanning 75 feet, ensuring uninterrupted functionality during floods.

This extensive mitigation project extends beyond flood protection and encompasses entrance canopy refurbishment, parking lot enhancements, and a redesigned front drive to bolster drainage, alleviate traffic congestion, and enhance the building’s aesthetics. The project also includes the addition of a third gym and a nursing lab.

The experienced Walter P Moore team understands that flood protection for existing buildings requires special attention to ensure that it will remain impervious over its lifetime, be easy to maintain, ensure smooth ingress/egress to the facility, and maintain the building’s structural, envelope, and utility system integrity. This groundbreaking project serves as a model for innovative and forward-looking strategies in climate readiness.