Trinity Levees: Will the Feds' Money Crunch Leave Us Low and Wet?

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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Am I in the happy-news business? Does a bear use air freshener in the woods? Look, I'm just bringing it to you like it is. As bad as the situation with the Trinity River levees may look locally, you should see what it looks like when you put it in perspective with national levee problems.

We're worse than screwed. We're glued and tattooed, because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is screwed, glued and tattooed.

We may not remember here, but last spring the corps planted explosives in the Birds Point levee on the Mississippi River and blew the shit out of it, sending a massive flood over 130,000 acres of farmland downriver in Missouri.

Why? Because otherwise there might no longer be a town called Cairo, Illinois, which would have been inundated if the corps didn't blow the levees to lower the Mississippi. And that was only one of last season's flood disasters in the North.

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That season of disastrous flooding on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and a stalled funding bill in the Congress have left the corps broke.

They're telling people on the Missouri River they only have money to fix 11 of 68 subpar levees, and many of those can only be brought to a safety level one-fourth what it was before.

So we figure people in that area just cross their fingers and pray for no rain? Yeah, unless they're farmers, in which case they also write very big checks for government crop insurance at rates five times what they were before the recent floods. A year's premium was $100,000 for one farmer quoted in a recent Businessweek story.

See, that's the thing. The corps and the Federal Emergency Management Agency here are gearing up for some kind of come-to-Jesus moment when they and the city will tell us the Trinity levees can't be fixed back to the so-called 800-year flood protection level we thought they were providing before they failed inspection. In fact, the corps has raised doubts about whether the city's proposed repairs will even get back to the 100-year protection level that determines whether property owners in the floodplain must buy pricey flood insurance.

In my conversations with FEMA, they have always said they will provide flood insurance to areas in Dallas affected by the reduced protection levels of the Trinity levees, but the price of the premiums will reflect the risk level.

Reflected how? Think about the farmer in the Businessweek story, 55-year-old Ed Marshall of Charleston, Missouri, scratching out that big premium check for $100,000 to insure his crops. Then think about very valuable real estate all over the urban core of Dallas that is in precisely the same predicament.

And all this begs the question of whether the city will get any help from the broke feds to help pay for repairs.

And I ask again, what do you hear about all of this from your loyal public servants at City Hall? La la-la la. Let's rather talk about Toys for Tots.

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16 comments
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Mike
Mike

The party is over as far as looking to the Federal Government. Why should they pay for something that has no benefit other than the commercial interests in a tiny area of a large region. This project screams for a city bond as a standard item. Maybe if we did not keep wasting money on hotels, designer bridges, stadium remodeling, schools we do not need, and provisions for tollways we do not need, we would have debt capacity to handle real needs. The Corps needs to focus on emergencies, not problems that inept city leaders kept delaying and delaying until they want to declare an emergency.

Time to put on the big boy pants and stop looking to Daddy to wipe our noses.

garyg
garyg

I believe he House passed the supplemental appropriation bill for the Corp this afternoon.

John_McKee
John_McKee

Maybe we could sell naming rights. Just imagine the good publicity, "You are not drowning right now thanks to Bounty paper towels!" Maybe paint the levees to look like giant rolls of paper towels for when the helicopters show the wall of water ready to flood downtown, only abated by giant fake rolls of paper towels?

Ben
Ben

What did they talk about yesterday at this closed meeting?http://dallaschamberblog.org/2...Might be hard to spot General Kula, as the watermelon sized pine cones blend in with his attire. The photo looks like something out of one of those Japanese godzilla movies. The General, The Mayor, Harlan Crow, the fancy bridge lady, the Mary Kay dude..all meeting at the old abandoned hospital.

JimS
JimS

In all official Trinity-related photos, Mary McDermott Cook is the Peter Sellers character in "Being There." She's just there. Always. I'm still searching for the one Wilonsky posted of a meeting in  Eddie Bernoce Johnson's office in Washington. She was off in the corner like a clock on the wall. But she's always there. Maybe this movie tells why:http://www.thetrinitytrust.org...

JimS
JimS

old abandoned loony bin, right?

Ben
Ben

Yes, actually that particular building was used as an insane asylum, alcohol treatment center, rape crisis center and minimum security prison. Fitting spot to discuss something like the levees. Since one, two or all of the above descriptors might fit into what a mess it has become.

JimS
JimS

Got inside there once since Harlan Crow re-did it. Incredible. The man does not waste his money.

scottindallas
scottindallas

What a pity.  The gov't can borrow money for less than at any time in history, and we can't print up some Bernake Bucks to repair our infrastructure.  Imagine the water projects, highways, mass transit, internet connectivity, and, the dividend of security, ease of movement, facility of trade and communication we'd enjoy.  Sounds like a much needed jobs program to me.

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