County Commissioner Provokes Wrath of Flood Victims
Aug. 8, 2016
Updated Aug. 9. Radack Doubles Down, Stands His Ground. See below.
Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack has unleashed a flood of outrage by telling an audience of several hundred citizens in an area of the city heavily damaged by flooding that “some people enjoy flooding.”
The large audience at a meeting of the Cypress Coalition Thursday, Aug. 4, gasped and groaned when Radack took the podium, waved his hands, and said that “some people frankly over the years, in the years I’ve been doing this, that frankly enjoy floods about every seven years, because they want new cars, they want their homes redone.”
Only Rain Causes Flooding!
Cynthia Neely, board member of Residents Against Flooding (RAF), was at the meeting at the Metropolitan Baptist Church with RAF Chair Ed Browne. She reports that both Radack, who’s been in office for 27 years, and Mike Talbott, retiring director of the Harris County Flood Control District, blamed Mother Nature for flooding.
It is rain that causes of flooding, according to Talbott and Radack. Not developers or impervious surface or poor drainage that flows from shopping malls into people’s homes. Not the City of Houston’s lack of enforcement of stormwater detention and mitigation requirements, or the Corps of Engineers relentless approval of the destruction of floodwater-absorbing wetlands, which are supposed to be protected by the Clean Water Act.
Residents Against Flooding represents homeowners on the northwest side of Houston in the Buffalo Bayou watershed. The Cypress Creek watershed overflows into Addicks Reservoir, which is a federal dam protecting Buffalo Bayou downstream from flooding. The Cypress Creek area experienced major flooding in April and earlier.
Residents Against Flooding has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Houston and the local Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) 17 and its Redevelopment Authority for knowingly allowing developers to flood their homes.
Radack has not apologized.
Here is a link to the full video of the Cypress Coalition meeting featuring Radack and Talbott.
Update Aug. 9
Radack Doubles Down, Stands His Ground
At a private luncheon meeting with a local political club Tuesday, Aug. 9, Radack doubled and even quadrupled down on his controversial comments that “some people like to flood.”
Radack refused to apologize. “They asked me to retract. I refused to retract,” he said proudly.
The county commissioner expanded his observations, telling the audience of about thirty-five business people and politicians that the people who “like to flood” are “people who like to rip off FEMA.”
He gave an example of a person owning a car with a transmission problem who would “deliberately drive off into water.” Radack didn’t explain how he knew that a person deliberately drove into floodwater or why it would be to anyone’s advantage to do that. The National Flood Insurance Program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not cover vehicles.
As further evidence that “some people do like to flood,” Radack said he had gone into neighborhoods after floods and noticed that all the homes had been fixed up and “everybody in the neighborhood has new cars.” Radack didn’t say whether he had been in the neighborhoods before they had flooded.
The national flood insurance program is deeply in debt and controversial. And it has been accused of having problems with fraud. But the alleged fraud has been perpetrated not by flood victims but upon flood victims by the private insurance companies that collect premiums from them and provide the payouts.
Fighting Mother Nature
Radack, who has described Buffalo Bayou as nothing but a “big drainage ditch,” went on to talk about regional flooding in general, frequently referring to the “fight against Mother Nature.” This attitude contradicts recent claims by Director Talbott that the Flood Control District was “working with nature rather than against it.” The phrase would also seem to imply that Radack prefers costly “gray” engineering solutions to flooding rather than more cost-effective and beneficial “green” solutions that incorporate natural, vegetated systems.
Harris County Commissioners Court oversees the budget and operations of the flood control district.
Politicians in the audience at the luncheon meeting included City Council Member Greg Travis, elected in November to replace Oliver Pennington in District G, which includes Buffalo Bayou from Barker Reservoir to Shepherd Drive.
Also present was Congressional Representative John Culberson, who was very friendly and shook a lot of hands.
However, Culberson and Radack seemed coolish as they passed each other.
Maybe because at the Cypress meeting Thursday Radack had called Culberson “a damn liar.” According to one report, an audience member told Radack that Culberson had said at his own town hall in Meyerland in June that flooding problems were the fault of the county commissioners.
Radack is up for re-election in November.