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March 6, 2018 Election Returns
Guidry News Forum
Letter to the Editor
by Ray Taft
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Bacliff Villas subdivision, located in Bacliff an unincorporated area of Galveston County, suffered devastating flooding during Harvey. During previous storms, the Villas weathered torrential rains without devastating consequences. On Saturday August 26, the Villas weathered Harvey; we hoped we would be OK. We were wrong because a storm drain problem had already doomed the Villas. The next day before dawn the flood waters came devastating homes and destroying personal property in the Villas. It did not have to be that way.

It is not widely known that the Villas had such a devastating flood during Harvey. It is also not well known that the Villas has had a storm drain problem for more than five years. What is known is that Galveston County knew of the drainage problem for years and has not fixed it. In May 2012, the county completed a camera run on the storm drain pipes in the Villas. Mike Fitzgerald, County Engineer at the time, found that the drains needed repair.

For the past several months some streets in the Villas routinely flooded during moderate rain. Heavy rain caused flooding on most streets. The county knew about it, and they knew that the only way to stop the flooding was to fix the drainage problem. Lee Crowder, Director of Road and Bridge, stated so in his February 2017 email that he sent to me and to county officials.

Instead of using county funds, the county has been seeking FEMA approval to repurpose FEMA funds to fix the Villa’s drainage problem. Those FEMA funds have not materialized because the problem remains unrepaired. Nevertheless, the county keeps reporting that FEMA funding is pending and will now probably take shape in the next year. According to the county, FEMA was stalling. I contacted Sen. Cornyn in September. His office reported that the Senator was unaware of any FEMA funding for Bacliff Villas. Their opinion was that FEMA funds should be available, but that it was a county issue.

According to a source in Bacliff MUD, the county previously asked them to mark their water lines in anticipation of replacing storm drain pipes in the Villas. However, the source reported that nothing transpired. It was the source’s opinion that nothing happened because Judge Henry did not want to use county funds to fix the problem.

Now the county has an upcoming bond election. And Commissioner Apffel is reported as saying he wanted greater funding for unincorporated areas. Apffel campaigned on the slogan ‘fix the broken government.’ Supposedly, the bond includes funding for drainage projects.

Property owners in Bacliff pay county taxes. Why didn’t the county use county funds? Where is the FEMA funding? Why couldn’t the county fix the problem before it caused devastating flooding? Bacliff has had three different County Commissioners since 2012, but the same County Judge. Judge Henry’s focus is on cutting county spending. Is Judge Henry to blame for not fixing the problem years ago because he did not want to spend county funds on the Villas?

There is a general malaise and an eerie silence in the Villas. Residents know there is a drainage problem. Few residents feel the county is looking out for us. We may be repairing our homes and replacing our personal property in vain because the drainage problem, that is the cause of so much grief, remains unrepaired.

Ray Taft

Remembering Jim Guidry GRCC Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership

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