Tag Archive for: cedar bayou

Save Date: Public Input Scheduled for Adlong Ditch Project on May 25

The Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) will hold a virtual Community Engagement Meeting for Adlong Ditch Conveyance Improvements on May 25. The purpose: to share project information and update residents on status of the project.

This project is in the Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) stage. PER objectives include delivering more detailed recommendations for flood damage reduction and an implementation strategy.

The Virtual Community Engagement Meeting will be held on: 
6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Join online at: PublicInput.com/Adlong
Or by phone* at 855-925-2801 with Meeting Code: 4964

2018 Bond Program funds will pay for this project. Community engagement is an important component of the Bond. And HCFCD invites your participation.

About the Meeting

The meeting will begin with a brief presentation to share project updates. A moderated Q&A session with Flood Control will follow. Residents may submit questions and comments before, during and after the meeting and throughout the public comment period. Any comments not addressed during the Q&A session will receive a response at the conclusion of the public comment period.  

Even if you can’t attend the virtual meeting, you can register to receive future project updates. HCFCD will post a recording of the meeting on the District’s website and YouTube after the event.

If you need accommodations because of a disability, please contact 346-286-4040 at least 48 hours prior to the meeting. For questions, please contact the Flood Control District at 346-286-4000, or fill out the comment form online at hcfcd.org/f-43.

*If you attend by phone only, maps and other exhibits will not be visible. However, you can find those after the meeting at hcfcd.org/f-43

Location of Ditch

Adlong Ditch runs north to south through a mostly rural area, east of Lake Houston between FM2100 and Cedar Bayou. The ditch runs from approximately Old Atascocita Road on the north to its confluence with Cedar Bayou east of Crosby.

Adlong Ditch starts near the center of the frame and runs toward the lower right. See Q128-00-00 where it crosses Highway 90.

Arkema Disaster Happened Near Adlong Ditch

A high-level executive of the flood control district described flooding in this area during Harvey. He said it was “a giant lake.”

The U.S. Chemical Hazards and Safety Investigation Board (CSB) said the flooding directly contributed to the disaster at the Arkema chemical plant, one block east of the ditch on Highway 90.

Adlong Ditch (left) flooded Arkema Chemical Plant (right) during Harvey, cutting off an evacuation route because of toxic fumes released.

According to the Board, Harvey disabled refrigeration systems at the Arkema plant in Crosby, where the company manufactures organic peroxides normally stored at -20 degrees F. As temperatures increased, the peroxides spontaneously combusted on August 31.

Arkema had a history of flooding, but never as bad as it did during Harvey. As a result, managers did not initially consider the plant’s safety systems at risk. But floodwaters at the plant during Harvey eventually reached 5 feet high – incredible for such a flat area.

Arkema Facility during Harvey. Rescuing part of the crew riding out the storm inside the plant.

The full report by the CSB details a series of catastrophic, bone-chilling miscalculations. It serves as a grim reminder of the power of floods and the need for preparation.

Residents within a 1.5 mile radius had to be evacuated. And because plant managers knew from experience that miles of surrounding roads would become impassable, they left a crew inside the plant to ride out the storm.

Not much later, 350,000 pounds of organic peroxide spontaneously combusted. Residents living within 1.5 miles of the plant had to evacuate and could not return home for a week. The incident endangered the lives of employees, first responders and neighbors. Highway 90, an evacuation route, had to be closed for days because of toxic fumes.

Cedar Bayou Flood Risk Reduction Study

Ironically, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) had started a Cedar Bayou Flood Risk Reduction Study six months before Harvey as part of its Cedar Bayou Plan. This study investigated existing flood hazards and identified potential future drainage improvements to help mitigate flooding and flood damage.

Included in the study were the Cedar Bayou main stem (Q100-00-00) and 18 of its tributaries deemed as priorities, including Q128-00-00 (Adlong Ditch). 

Outline of Long-Term Solution for Adlong Ditch

The long-term proposed solution for Adlong Ditch includes:

  • A large regional stormwater detention basin (approximately 120 acres in size which would provide approximately 511 million gallons of storage volume
  • Widening and deepening the channel
  • Structure improvements to increase the capacity of existing bridges/culverts.

Short-Term Objectives

The short-term recommendations include:

  • Acquisition of right-of-way (ROW) for future improvements
  • Initial construction of the regional stormwater detention basin. 

Project Benefits

Implementation of the long-term proposed solution would be phased as funding becomes available. The project benefits include: 

  • More effective channel conveyance to contain future 100-year flows. 
  • Removal of inundation of up to 17 structures downstream of US 90 in the 100-year event.
  • Removal of inundation of approximately 1,169 acres and 4.5 miles of road in the 100-year event, 
  •  An estimated reduction of $1.1 million in damage

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/13/2022

1718 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Garcia’s Proposal to Divert $191 Million in Flood Funds from Cedar Bayou is Defeated

During a spirited, but cordial debate Thursday that lasted almost two hours, Harris County Commissioners Court decided NOT to divert $191 million designated for Cedar Bayou in the flood bond. The deciding factor: previous promises not to cancel projects made by Lina Hidalgo and, you guessed it, Adrian Garcia himself.

Commissioners also recognized a need to ask voters for more flood-mitigation money and feared that cancelling projects would jeopardize the trust of voters and put future bonds at risk.

In the end, Commissioners Cagle and Ramsey got Judge Lina Hidalgo to agree with them, and Garcia withdrew his motions to transfer the money. It was reportedly the first time in years that Democrats broke ranks. Garcia seems crushed.

Two Sides Lay Out Opening Positions

Democrats primarily argued that we need to spend the money quickly to protect populated neighborhoods that have repeat flooding instead of newly developing areas.

Garcia led off the debate by stating the ideas behind the motion: flood bond matching funds have not yet fully materialized, so money is short. And cure is more important than prevention.

Republicans argued that voters approved a bond with a list of projects, and that diverting money would violate the public trust and jeopardize future bonds.

Cagle Reminds Hidalgo and Garcia of Previous Promises

Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle started his talk by showing this series of visuals. Within it was this four-page letter from Hidalgo to State Legislators dated February 27, 2019. In it, she said, “Let us start with this unequivocal truth: every project on the 2018 Flood Bond project list will be completed.”

The last page of the letter also contained a FAQ sheet. The very first question: “Is Harris County going to cancel my project?” Answer” “No, every project on the Flood Bond project list will be completed.”

Cagle also showed a rambling statement Garcia himself made at Commissioners Court on 8/27/2019. “If anybody and if anybody is watching on live streaming that believes that this body has somehow taken action to eliminate projects that were already planned, already posted, and already listed, I want people to know that whoever is spreading that rumor, whoever may be making phone calls, whoever may be having someone make phone calls, whoever may be out there telling people to call you and tell you come down to Commissioners Court and tell them don’t eliminate our projects or why are you eliminating our projects. I want to make sure you know that that is blatantly false if not maybe a lie. If anyone is getting that kind of information that things of that nature are happening, I’m not sure how this information is getting out there but it is just downright false.”

Whew. That first sentence is 88 words long! But the gist of it is that, “The allegation that we’re eliminating projects is blatantly false.”

Commissioner Ramsey focused mostly on a project he wanted to kill just six months ago, so he could use the money on one he considered more important in the same watershed. However, he was told that he couldn’t. Ramsey, in essence, was arguing that a double standard seemed to exist.

Those reminders seemed to turn Hidalgo. Realizing there was no hope of a win, Garcia withdrew the motions (#136 and #323) to divert the Cedar Bayou money.

Garcia Makes New Motion

But that didn’t end the discussion. Garcia made another motion. He asked the county administrator to work with Flood Control to come back with a funding recommendation “for projects outside the 100-year flood plain.” The motion carried unanimously without debate.

However, someone should have asked if he was so concerned about repeat flooding why would he focus efforts on 500-year floods instead of floods with higher frequency.

Misrepresentation of Available Funds

Repeated falsehoods marred the discussion. One had to do with the amount of money available. On numerous occasions, Garcia claimed only $2.5 billion was available. However, because of partnership funds already received and transfers from HCTRA, the total committed to flood mitigation to date exceeds $4 billion. As of June 2021, only another $951 million is needed to fully fund all bond projects with seven years left to find the money. And the GLO is waiting in the wings with another $750 million from HUD. That one grant could come close to fully funding all bond projects.

So funding is not quite as dire as Garcia stated. Flood bond projects are fully funded for at least the next six years.

Misrepresentation of Number of Homes Flooded

Garcia also misrepresented the number of homes flooded along Cedar Bayou; he claimed 400. But Harris County Flood Control Federal Reports show the number was more than 2,200. Garcia contrasted that with 2,494 in the area where he wanted to shift the money.

If you look closely in Garcia’s spreadsheet, you will also see that his consultant claims Garcia’s projects will take more homes out of floodplains than Harvey flooded. Hmmmm, 2494 flooded in Harvey vs. 3697 removed from floodplains. Wonder how that works.

Show Me the List!

Finally, after repeatedly talking about specifics and referring to “this project” or “these projects”, the number of homes that could be removed from the 500-year floodplain, and the rankings of projects, Garcia pretended that “a list” was still in development. However, I later obtained a copy. While Garcia may still be fine tuning the list, he had one that he shared with other commissioners but not the public. That list identified 17 projects from which he compiled the 2,494 structures saved.

The 17 projects include Carpenters Bayou, Vince Bayou, Goose Creek, Jackson Bayou, Spring Gully, Armand Bayou, Galveston Bay, Greens Bayou and San Jacinto watersheds.

List of projects Garcia wanted to fund with $191 million from Cedar Bayou. For a high res pdf, click here.

Projects Fall within Boundaries of Precinct 2 Proposed in Ellis Plan

The flood bond already included money for nine of those projects. So transferring money for them should have been unnecessary, but Garcia included their costs in his total dollars needed.

Nine were within Cities (Pasadena, Baytown, La Porte). And eight were in unincorporated areas. The county’s primary mission is to serve unincorporated areas.

As predicted, virtually all of the projects fell within the boundaries of a new Precinct 2 proposed by Rodney Ellis.

Proposed new Harris County Precinct Boundaries in Ellis Plan
Proposed new Harris County Precinct Boundaries in Ellis Plan. Lines represent existing boundaries and colors represent proposed new boundaries.

This supports the hypothesis that the attempted transfer related to bolstering Garcia’s re-election chances.

The location of the projects relative to the proposed Precinct 2 boundaries never came up in debate, however. That’s probably because dozens of additional people complained about redistricting plans today BEFORE the discussion of shifting Cedar Bayou money.

Head Scratcher

Garcia also repeatedly mentioned homes that flooded in the 500-year flood plain. And his motion talked about removing homes from the 500-year floodplain rather than protecting homes in the 10, 50, and 100 year floodplains. Those flood far more frequently and he said upfront that his primary concern was repeat flooding.

Redistricting Not Decided Tuesday

Commissioners debated redistricting Tuesday, but deferred any decision until at least Thursday when they will hold another special session to take up the subject. They did debate the merits of different maps but asked a contractor to develop even more. Garcia stated that he, like Rodney Ellis, wanted to see a map with four Democratic precincts. Then they made a hasty departure for the Astros first World Series game.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/27/2021

1520 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Ellis Wants You To Address Commissioner’s Court on Redistricting

After 100 people objected to Commissioner Rodney Ellis redistricting plan at last Thursday’s Commissioner’s Court, the following day he placed item #336 on the Emergency Agenda for this Tuesday’s meeting.

The item says, “Request by the Commissioner of Precinct 1 to receive public input regarding Harris County Commissioners Court redistricting plans, and consider and possibly adopt an order approving a new district/precinct plan for Harris County Commissioners Court, including any amendments thereto.”

An Invitation from Rodney Ellis to You

So it should come as no surprise that Mr. Ellis sent out the following message today. I’m reprinting it verbatim below and will add a few observations at the end.

But the important thing is that Mr. Ellis wants you to sign up to comment during Commissioner’s Court on his plan, so the world can hear what you think of it.

Ellis’ Letter

Dear Friends,

Every decade, after each U.S. census, states, cities and counties engage in a process called redistricting, where they adjust the boundaries of their governing districts to reflect changes in population growth and other factors.

For the last six weeks, Harris County has held public meetings across the county to hear your thoughts. 

Based on what we learned, and in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, we’re proposing new boundaries for county commissioner districts that are reflected in the map posted here [his]. Our plan seeks to keep communities of interest together and brings together areas that have been split apart for years.

For too long this county has been intentionally divided by precinct boundaries that deny people the opportunity to elect representation that accurately reflects the views of the majority of our communities. 

“The boundaries proposed cease that continued suppression, and allows (sic) the voices and views of the people to be reflected by those who represent them.”

Rodney Ellis

In Harris County, we’re committed to a fair and transparent process. That’s why we held public meetings across the county and why we are taking public comment now on the proposed maps.

You will hear some of my colleagues complain – and complain loudly. Sadly, they are more concerned about preserving their political power and getting headlines than they are about getting better representation for you. 

You can provide YOUR feedback on the proposed maps in person or virtually. Public hearings on the adoption of a redistricting map in Harris County will be held on Tuesday, October 26 and Thursday, October 28. You MUST complete this form in order to testify.

For questions or assistance with the Appearance Request Form, please contact CommissionersCourt@hctx.net or 713-274-1111. If you cannot attend, you can still let your voice be heard by submitting your written comments to CommissionersCourt@hctx.net.

Redistricting will impact the direction of this county for years to come. We will continue to fight for you to have the fair representation that everyone in Harris County deserves.

For more information on the Harris County redistricting process, you can visit the Harris County Attorney Office’s redistricting page.


Rodney Ellis

Rehak Comments

I have five comments.

  1. Denies representation? How does he think Adrian Garcia, Lina Hidalgo and he got elected?
  2. Communities of interest intentionally divided? A third of the comments last week must have pointed that out as a flaw in HIS map.
  3. The boundaries in Ellis’ map would cease suppression? During the last presidential campaign Harris County voted 55.9% Democrat and 42.7% Republican. Democrats currently hold 60% of the voting power on Commissioners Court and Ellis’ map would make that 80%. And in the last meeting, Ellis asked to see a map with 100% Democratic precincts! With 80% of the vote, Democrats would have a super-majority and could raise taxes without Republican consent.
  4. Allows voices and views of people to be reflected by those who represent them? Let’s hear from the people of Cedar Bayou about how they like Adrian Garcia trying to shift $191 million of flood bond money to another area – immediately before redistricting.
  5. Fair and transparent process? Why don’t we know where Garcia wants to shift the money? The vote on that is tomorrow, right before they take up redistricting!

Please sign up to talk Tuesday. If you can’t, please email CommissionersCourt@hctx.net.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/25/2021

1518 Days since 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.