County backs regional flood control effort
For The Record
Orange County Commissioners Tuesday passed a resolution approving participation in a new eight-county flood control district.
The proposed Southeast Texas Flood Control District would be a local government corporation to allow the counties of Orange, Jefferson, Chambers, Liberty, Tyler, Hardin, Jasper and Newton to pool their populations – more than 500,000 – to compete for large-scale disaster mitigation projects.
The state of Texas has set aside hundreds of millions of dollars to fund regional flood control projects.
“There’s a lot of money being put out there on the state and federal level, and without something like this, it’s going to be tough for us to qualify for any of that money,” County Judge John Gothia said.
“That’s why we’ve gotten very little of it so far when it comes to these major drainage projects.
“And there’s not one of the drainage projects that we’re looking at that doesn’t come from Jasper or Newton counties as the starting point for that water.
“So we have to cooperate with each other in order to make that happen.”
Gothia said that Tuesday’s action was just the first step. The next will take place next week when representatives of the eight counties meet in Beaumont.
The judge stressed that Orange County was not committing any funding – yet.
“The first step is to move forward with a regional study,” he said.
“Before you can dredge, before you can dig, you have to have a reason. For that, you need a study that shows what the impact would be.”
The judge said that the Sabine River Authority had offered to fund the study.
“At some point, we’re going to have to put some money in it,” he said. “It’ll be up to us to determine at that time.
“This is just letting us have the ability to request money for projects.”
Joel Ardoin, the county’s emergency management coordinator, and Gothia, whose title as the county’s top elected official makes him the director of emergency management, both thanked employees who were on alert after last Wednesday’s TPC plant explosion in Port Neches.
Reporting on the Tropical Storm Imelda relief efforts, Ardoin noted that deadline passed Tuesday for registering for federal help, but those still needing information on how to file should go to www.sba.gov/disaster or call 1-800-659-2955.
He also announced the Disaster Recovery Center at the County Convention and Expo Center will close Dec. 10.
The Small Business Administration showed it had granted 235 individual loans for $13.8 million and eight business loans for about $15 million, Ardoin said.
The commissioners okayed the payment of $236,000 in weekly bills.