Tony Buzbee and Bill King both understand the importance of Kingwood in the upcoming Mayoral election. In the 2015 runoff, Sylvester Turner won by 4,000 votes city wide. But more than 28,000 registered voters in Kingwood didn’t vote, largely because of a major storm on Election Day. Storms may again shape this election, but in a different way.
Slow Pace of Mitigation Creates Opening
Since Hurricane Harvey, identifying the causes of flooding in the Kingwood area and mitigating them have dominated public discourse. Now both candidates running against incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner are courting Kingwood residents. We could be the swing vote in the next election. And the slow pace of mitigation since Harvey could give them the opening they seek. Especially after recent flooding in Elm Grove reignited waves of anxiety.
King has met with many area residents on numerous occasions for the last year. He has slogged through swamps and sand dunes with me on more than one occasion, trying to see first hand how the San Jacinto became clogged with sediment, in part, due to sand mines in the floodway.
Buzbee joined the race later, but didn’t waste time wading into the issues. He asked local activists to arrange a trip to the mouth bar and a sand mine for him. When we got to the mouth bar, the former marine captain literally sprang out of the boat and waded ashore like he was taking a beach at Normandy.
Buzbee Sees Firsthand the Breach of Sand Mine Dike
Upriver, at the sand mine, we saw a tangible example of a theoretical discussion I had been having with him for several months – a sand mine discharging silt and wastewater into the river. We discovered, by accident, a massive breach in the dike of the Triple-P mine in Porter.
About 50 to 100 feet of the dike had vanished. From the way trees laid down, it looked as though the wall of the mine had been blown outward by floodwaters.
Danger of Floodway Mining Comes to Life
Suddenly, all the tumblers clicked into place. Buzbee said, “So that’s what you’ve been talking about!” The danger of building mines in the floodway became apparent. It was what they call in science “The Aha Moment!” I could see him connecting thoughts that were previously unconnected, such as sand mine and mouth bar. He got it.
Luckily for Kingwood residents, a video crew was present when he got it. Here, on video, is Buzbee’s voyage of discovery.
An Open Offer to All Candidates
While I have tried to keep flood discussions apolitical, inevitably the solutions are political. Hence, I am wading into some uncharted waters. I told Buzbee and King the same thing I will tell any candidate for any office. I will help you understand the causes of flooding in this area and what we need to mitigate them. My hope is that by making this part of the political debate, the candidates will focus awareness on the problems that leads to solutions.
I also make this promise to all candidates – incumbents and challengers alike. People deserve to hear what you have to say about flooding. Send me your thoughts or videos and I will publish them.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/24/2019 with special thanks to Josh Alberson and his boat
633 Days since Hurricane Harvey