On September 24th, I noted some chatter online about another fire in the Forest Cove townhome complex between Hamblen Road and the West Fork. I went there last night to see what had happened. It was very disheartening. Five more townhomes had burned to the ground. Nothing remained but ashes.
Why We Should Not Build So Close to Rivers
Not long ago, dozens of families lived in this complex. They had hopes and dreams. Children played in the street. Neighbors looked after each other. Couples got married by the river. Everyone shared a love a nature. Sure, they had frequent floods. But the homes were designed around that. Then came Harvey.
Water reached 17 to 23 feet into the third floors of townhomes. After a night of terror in which 240,000 cubic feet per second literally swept some structures off their foundations, residents returned to a wasteland. It was so bad, that FEMA even came here to film a video about the ravages of Harvey. Now, it’s even worse.
Many people who once lived here, like Jennifer Parks, won’t even venture into the neighborhood. They find the memories too traumatic. Here’s what her once-proud townhome looks like today. This was the fourth fire in that neighborhood since the start of 2019.
Photos of Latest Fire
The northern half of the complex in the red rectangle burned last year on July 4. The southern half burned the day after Tropical Storm Beta on September 24 when weather was cloudy but calm.
Four More Buildings Remain
Five other buildings remain on the eastern side of Marina Drive. View this post for an explanation of why buyouts take so long.
Time for Plan B
It’s time to go to Plan B. Frankly, in my opinion, this latest fire underscores the need to condemn these properties as a public-safety hazard. We need to demolish them and get on with life for the good of the community and the safety of firefighters. Let’s turn these eyesores into assets. Return the area to green space NOW.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/6/2020
1134 Days after Hurricane Harvey
The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.