The maps show it. It’s in the 100-year flood plain.
But, the overgrown brush in Medio Creek, which would normally whisk the water away from the area, blocks the water and slows its flow southward.
The drought has been a blessing these past few years. Less water means less flooding.
But that is not a solution.
About a month ago, heavy rains north of the town reminded residents of the problem.
Karen Kibbe, who lives in the area, approached county commissioners about the problem, hoping for help.
At the time, there was little they could do.
But Commissioner Dennis DeWitt has since followed up and is seeking a solution to the problem.
DeWitt said that he has been approached by several more residents about flooding.
“The people who have talked to me have said, ‘Why don’t you have these oil companies come in here and clean this out,’” DeWitt said. “We haven’t approached them, and we won’t. They have other things to do.”
There is also the issue that this would be considered private property, which limits what can be done by the county.
“We have to respect private property rights,” DeWitt said during a recent commissioners court meeting. “You cannot just go down a creek with a bulldozer and start clearing it out.”
Then there is disposal. “What are you going to do with all that stuff — the trees, and there might be a refrigerator or two.”
He did some research.
A water control and improvement district could be formed in the county.
“When you start doing a water control and improvement district, they are going to have authority to issue bonds and condemn property,” DeWitt said. “All of the property owners affected would have to agree to this.”
DeWitt, in his speaking during a June 24 court meeting, wasn’t pushing this idea. There was a simpler option.
A Community Development Block Grant could be sought to help fund the cleanup.
Eric Hartzell, with GrantWorks, told DeWitt that there are a variety of grants available depending upon the circumstances.
“CDBG funds can now be used for drainage in the Coastal Bend as well. We applied for drainage improvements for San Patricio and Jim Wells counties under the 2013-14 Community Development Fund last fall, and both will be funded this year,” Hartzell said in an e-mail.
“This would provide around $250,000 for drainage work, so it may be something to consider for next year’s application.”
For now though, their hands are tied as they wait for the next round of grants hopefully to come in.
“The people of Pettus are not forgotten,” he said. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is not a train.”
Ultimately, it will be up to the court to decide what will be done in that area.
“We have several options we could go with,” he said.
Until then, heavy rains like last month will place the downtown area at risk.
“Hopefully, we will get rain but not eight or 10 inches upstream and create this situation again.”
County Judge David Silva interjected as DeWitt spoke to his fellow commissioners.
“We are hoping to get a little rain.
“That was an usual event, and I agree it doesn’t happen every time.
“I think that would be a worthy way of looking at it.
“Hopefully, we can mitigate some of that problem.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.