HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM) – When historic rains from Tropical Storm Harvey fell on Houston, hundreds of thousands of homes filled up with water.
As the storm diminished and headed east, Keith Hofmann thought his Houston home would be one of the fortunate ones spared from flood damage.
“We did think that,” he said. “My wife and I danced in the middle of the kitchen. The kids were extremely happy and we started pulling in neighbors that were affected by Harvey.”
But as the storm moved on, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began releasing water from the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs sending water into thousands of homes and business that would not have otherwise flooded.
“Overnight our house was flooded,” Hofmann said.
It would be months before the Hofmann and his family could move back in.
Hofmann is one of as many as 10,000 home and business owners who are suing the federal government alleging the decision to open the dams constitutes a government land seizure.
Attorney Noah Wexler said even if releasing the water from the dams prevented an even bigger disaster, it doesn’t mean the Army Corps is off the hook.
“Their action resulted in a flood of water onto these people’s property that would have not happened had the dams not been in place and operated as the government did,” Wexler explained. “This was an unconstitutional taking without just compensation.”
Under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, government land seizures require “just compensation.”
The Army Corps told the CBS 11 I-Team it would not comment on pending litigation.
When the water eventually went down, more than a hundred volunteers flooded Hofmann’s home.
“It was unbelievable,” Hofmann said. “We were truly blessed.”
Thanks to the volunteers from nearby churches along with friends and neighbors, Hofmann said his family was able to move back home quicker than most.
Many homeowners downstream from the Addicks and Barkers dams are not back a year after Harvey.
Without flood insurance, many cannot afford to rebuild leaving streets for the past year filled with flooded out homes and now owners demanding compensation.