HIGHLANDS – Gretchen Knowles and Kris Banks with Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia’s Precinct 2 were the hosts for a feedback session held at the San Jacinto Community Center here on Monday. About 20 residents turned out to offer their advice on what to do about flooding in the future.
This meeting was called “Let’s Talk About Flooding” and asked what residents see as the future of flood control for northeast Harris County. Specifically, a Flood Advisory Board was formed by Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia to seek answers to three questions. Those questions are: what is the biggest impact of flooding that you face; what is your vision for flood control mitigation; and what should be the priority for flood repairs and improvements? The Advisory Board would then incorporate the community concerns from Precinct 2 residents for flood mitigation, meet with varied local, state and federal entities to understand their ongoing efforts and challenges on projects, and advise Commissioner Garcia on how best to address flooding.
No matter who you talk to, the fact that bayous, ditches and culverts appear not to have been cleaned out for over 20 years has contributed to some apprehension about how the $2.2 billion dollar bond passed by the county citizens to seek matching federal funds will be spent locally, regardless of whatever was said concerning mitigating that situation.
Almost every group has specified that the county needs to aim at flood relief for the largest of areas effected rather than concentrating on individuals cases first. There were individuals on hand asking for help as individuals, however.
Politics did come up from citizens as a contributing factor including redistricting’s impact on representation having been changed, for example from Precinct 4 to Precinct 2 in Crosby. The ongoing interagency arguments concerning responsibilities in maintaining intakes for highways, like the one on US 90 above the Weingartens Shopping Center and beside Friendly Ford of Crosby. The change in how crews working on ditches had changed from county employees doing a regular professional job to hiring subcontractors only to maintain cutting and ditches. The stopping of National Guard and Army Corps of Engineers from cleaning out bayous. The systems developed to drain water by one county not taking into account the system used by the down river county.
There were mostly attempts at making constructive suggestions for improving the way water drains. One professional engineer suggested that it would help to have pumps located where water tends to get resistance from flowing. For example where Cedar Bayou runs to FM 1942 and where Cedar Bayou runs into Interstate 10. And Highlands residents all identified various drainage system that have not been properly maintained.