Saturday, February 06, 2010

This is unfortunate

Crossing at creek left open
I read an article in the Beaumont Enterprise this morning (strange things happen when I'm on the coast) that said SA is experiencing its wettest winter in a long time.

San Antonio is built on a flood plain. It's not as bad as NOLA, but we flood occasionally. I will never forget 1998, when a portion of south Texas roughly the size of West Virginia was under water. Usually it's not as bad as all that, but whenever we get heavy rains, it floods at least a little.

There are low water crossings all over this area. Where I live, on the Northeast side of town, I'm very close to a couple--Gibbs-Sprawl as it wends from Rittiman to FM 78 goes under a railroad bridge, and it floods every single time we get hard rain. Likewise, the access road for I-35, at Salado Creek, floods religiously as well. (Once, as an adolescent, I saw that sucker so full of water it looked like the road didn't dip at all, and my local readers know how extreme that is.)

Authorities are getting better at putting up barricades. I don't remember seeing too many of 'em as a child. But you grow up around here--or live here any length of time--and you learn where the low water crossings are on your regular route, and when it has been raining, you know not to go that way, because you know it's gonna flood. I was headed to the girls' school Thursday morning and thought to go down Gibbs-Sprawl, but remembered the low water crossing, so I turned onto Rittiman instead. Because of that, I couldn't tell you if it was blocked off or not.

Now, let me be clear here. I think it's a terrible thing that Randy Goss drowned. But if he wasn't born & raised here, he's certainly been living here for quite some time--the County Line has been around at least since I was a small child, and probably longer. So I am forced to wonder why he was seemingly unaware that that crossing would be flooded. An hour earlier, a neighbor turned around when he saw that the crossing was impassible.

Would it have been better to have barriers? Certainly. But I am well aware that the ultimate responsibility for my safety lies with me, and I'm frankly confused as to why Bexar County is even entertaining the discussion as it is currently framed. It is not, when last I checked, the county's responsibility to protect us. Even with the best of intentions, they can't possibly block every low water crossing in the county, and again--we know these things are here. We know--or at least we should--that when it's been raining two days straight (on already-saturated ground) that it will flood. We've all been living with the "Turn Around, Don't Drown" campaign for decades now--and it didn't always focus on simply not driving around barriers. Honestly, if you're a native, you shouldn't even need to see the barriers to know to avoid certain places.

Can the rest of us learn a lesson from this? Take it as a reminder. Go slow, and look. If you have the slightest doubt, turn the hell around. It's not worth the risk.

1 comment:

Mattexian said...

It happens here too, in Beaumont, whenever we get a hard rain. The underpasses flood (the sump pumps can't keep up, not against a 2" per hour downpour), and some damned fool doesn't think it looks that deep, and drives straight into it. Some of the underpasses have swing-out gates that the police can pull out to block traffic, some don't. Hell, I've seen folks with flooded out cars just because they kept on driving in the water, and hit a deep spot in the road, or misjudged where the lane was and they went into the ditch, completely swamping their car or pickup! Every once in a while, there will be someone who misjudges, and drowns too, but thankfully those are more rare than snowstorms here! (I don't count the folks who get drunk and drive into a drainage ditch or irrigation canal and drown, those happen a little more often.)