County leaders resolve to go after flow
Last updated 12/23/2019 at Noon
For The Record
With average rainfall amounts nearly doubled in 2017 and running 30 inches over average so far in 2019, everyone’s New Year’s wish for 2020 is for staying dry.
Orange County leaders are doing their best for a future without the flooding damage done by Tropical Storms Harvey and Imelda in recent odd-numbered years.
But 2020 is really thinking optimistically.
“Some things we’re doing will help sooner, but it will probably be incremental,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Johnny Trahan said Monday.
“And the things I hope will help the most will probably come later, because it’s going to take some big dollars.”
Trahan and County Judge John Gothia were sworn into county office Jan. 1, 2017 and by June were dealing with water closing roads and creeping into houses after what we now call “major rain events.”
When Harvey hit in August, the downfall and the devastation were unimaginable.
Gothia was among Bridge City homeowners whose homes were ruined by Hurricane Ike’s storm surge in 2008 and nine years later by Harvey’s downpour – as much as 26 inches in a day.
Many area residents were just getting back in their homes after repairing Harvey damage when September’s Imelda flooded those brand-new floors, carpets and Sheetrock.
Orange County is involved in at least four efforts to get to the root of the flooding problems, which they realize will probably require cooperation from counties upstream as well as a myriad of government agencies.
1. The county has signed on to a new eight-county Southeast Texas Regional Flood Control Corporation. The goal is to use the combined population of Orange, Jefferson, Hardin, Jasper, Newton, Chambers, Tyler and Liberty counties (600,000) to better access funding from the Texas Water Development Board.
2. The county is visiting with the U.S. Corps of Engineers as plans continue for a Coastal Spine seawall to protect Orange County from another storm surge like that from Ike where Bridge City was inundated by lake and seawater blown ashore by the winds.
3. Trahan and Gothia gave State Sen. Robert Nichols a recent tour of the Interstate 10 bridge over Adams Bayou. Nearby homeowners say its construction is a major factor in water backing up north of the interstate. Almost immediately, TxDOT pulled back bridge plans and canceled a long-scheduled public meeting indefinitely.
4. Trahan says talks are under way with the Jasper and Newton county delegates to the eight-county flood control group to come up with projects that will lessen the runoff from rains off north. A large detention pond and work on the Teel Relief Ditch that runs from south Jasper County to the Sabine River.