Enjoy Your Flood!

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.”

Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack telling flood victims that some people enjoy floods because they get new cars and remodeled homes. Image courtesy of Cynthia Neely, Aug. 4, 2016.

Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack telling flood victims that some people enjoy floods because they get new cars and remodeled homes. Image courtesy of Cynthia Neely, Aug. 4, 2016.

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.

Here is a link to the video of Radack’s bizarre comments, courtesy of Cynthia Neely of RAF. The reaction on the Facebook group Houston Flood 2015 Support and Resource Group has been furious.

Channel 11 KHOU and Channel 2 KPRC also picked up the comments.

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.”

The Evidence

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.

7 thoughts on “Enjoy Your Flood!”

  1. Thanks so much for this! Residents Against Flooding is actually working for ALL of Houston and suing both the City of Houston as well as TIRZ17 which is in the Memorial City District, north and south of I-10 , west to Beltway 8, and east to Bunker Hill. We need support to continue to fund our federal lawsuit. It is the only chance to get desperately needed detention basins and drainage improvements and to stop preventable flooding. We have been working on this for over 8 years and gotten nowhere. That’s why we finally had to sue. It’s not for money but for remedy! There is a whole lot that can be done but it is not. Please volunteer and please donate and please spread the word. http://www.gofundme.com/preventflooding, http://www.drainagecoalition.com, Thank you! @HoustonRAF

  2. Glad you mentioned the Clean Water Act. There’s an important drainage ditch (formally known as Ditch W153) that takes storm water to Buffalo Bayou that has become the dumping ground for runoff from new development in the Memorial City area. Guess what? It is protected by the Clean Water Act. Nobody cares but area homeowners, many who have flooded because of all the new water that our “protected” W153 can’t handle.

    1. Thanks for letting us know, Cynthia.

  3. Andrea Lepow says:

    Steve Radack is an absolute idiot! “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.”

    Total ignorant moron. His lack of sensitivity, knowledge and insight is amazing.

    Shame on him.

  4. Daphne Scarbrough says:

    No one can say that County Commissioner Radack is a boring speaker. I attended the political luncheon and was pleased to see several elected officials in attendance, not only was City Councilman Greg Travis there & Congressman John Culberson, but State Rep. Sarah Davis also attended . It was encouraging to see they made time to come and learn more about the County’s plans for flooding in Harris County. Unfortunately, Radack was more interested in talking about people “who like to flood” and the fantasy of buying up the open fields between Cypress and 99, as future flood plains. I was raised in that area and fields were great for holding water and keeping it from reaching Houston. It is a fantasy and Radack said as much, so back to the real world? Radacks vision of houses washing down Buffalo Bayou on the way to the Gulf of Mexico was entertaining and if the County strips beautiful Buffalo Bayou of all it’s trees and greenery, the houses will have more room to move faster down the Bayou, the Ark could follow right behind them. It is interesting that Radack did not speak to how the County could have lessened flooding by not allowing the subdivisions popping up in the open fields do without one or two streets of houses, but then like our City, it is all about the taxes they reap.

  5. Kay Haslam says:

    County Commissioner Steve Radack made several comments during the August 4 Cypress Coalition. In addition to the “people enjoy flooding,” he said:
    Only 1% of houses in Harris County have flooded.
    Only one dozen people have complained to him about flooding in the past year.
    He called Congressional Representative John Culberson an expletive deleted liar.
    He mocked the deceased man who called his boss to say he would be late to work, not realizing that he was trapped in his vehicle in flood water and dying.
    In 2013 in response to an email that I wrote him asking for detention, he called me. “You can’t have any detention in Memorial. The land is too expensive.”
    As I tried to explain to him that land which floods regularly soon loses its value, he hung up on me.
    If you look at the HCFCD website, you will see that West Memorial has received no benefit from Steve Radack, no flood control projects, no detention, nothing.
    He has done nothing for us. Please, Mr. Radack, do us one favor: do not run again.

  6. Arthur Neelley says:

    I know I’ve moved away about 2 decades ago and have lost touch with exactly who is in charge in government in the area, but this Steve Raddick sounds like one big republican (right-winged Texas styled of course) asshole ! Why is this idiot still allowed to be in office WTF ? What about term-limits that republicans are so damned famous for enforcing ? I guess not when it’s “one of their own”. What a jerk and so indicative of what is WRONG with flood control efforts and environmental restoration in my home town. Wake up Houstonians and replace these old out dated politicians before we lose what remaining healthy waterways, flora and fauna remains in Houston ! I come home to visit my family several times a year and, despite all the wonderful things and phenomenal progress being made in Houston, it saddens me and others that a few old bastards like this guy remains in office continuing to cling to their dying power while trying to drag everything and everyone else down with them.

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