This story is part of the Grist series Flood. Retreat. Repeat, an exploration of how communities are changing before, during, and after managed retreat.
Dolores Mendoza lived in the Houston neighborhood of Allen Field for most of her life. Once, when her daughter was young, she moved to a north Houston suburb not far away, so her daughter could grow up with safer streets and better schools. “I hated it,” she said flatly, remembering her attempt to leave. “I didn’t know my neighbors — there are 100 houses and you don’t know anyone.” She came back within a year.
In this corner of unincorporated Harris County, 13 of her closest neighbors are also her family: her mom, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings. Her parents and grandparents both met in the neighborhood, got married, and stayed here. “I have my maternal family on one street, and my paternal family on the other,” she said, laughing. Her memories of growing up include bike rides through the streets from one friend or cousin’s house to the next.
But her upbringing was also punctuated by intense floods that put her neighborhood underwater over and over again — t... Read more