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Fallen tree moved from rail line raises flooding concerns in Houston's east end

Friday, August 16, 2013

They've been trying for months to get help removing an old tree that's been adding to big flooding problems in their neighborhood. And after being turned away again and again, they turned to Eyewitness News.

Those who live in the area say it's amazing what a phone call from a reporter can do. Only after we started asking questions did Union Pacific admit fault and start doing something to help them.

Countless trains have chugged the tracks behind Capitol Street since the storm that months ago knocked a tree over.

Resident Jim Carroll said, "We already had a problem with flooding before they put this tree here."

Residents say it fell on the tracks and that when Union Pacific removed it, workers left it behind where they live.

"I'm hoping that storm in the gulf, or any storm, won't be coming through here," Carroll said.

Carroll took pictures of standing water following a recent moderate storm. Heavier rain, he says, sends water to the threshold of their front doors.

With the debris in the way, Carroll says the natural flow of water out to the bayou is blocked. He and other residents have been complaining for months to the city and to Union Pacific.

"No resolution, just a 'we're working on it.' And they will send a track inspector," he said.

After all those calls, and then one from us, suddenly Union Pacific responded.

Union Pacific spokesperson Raquel Espinoza said, "There was some miscommunication on our part and this request did not receive a timely response, and we apologize for that."

Espinoza admits this is Union Pacific's right of way and that the company has the responsibility to keep it clear from debris. Just hours after receiving our request for information about this case, the mess was cleared.

"We are assessing the situation and looking at what we can do differently to ensure that this doesn't happen again," Espinoza said. Find Kevin on Facebook at ABC13KevinQuinn or on Twitter at @kquinn001

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