One of the revelations to come out of the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey was the existence of a 20-year-old study warning that without drainage improvements, the Brazosport area would again experience exactly what happened during Harvey.
Of course, since the skies weren’t threatening at the time area leaders discussed the study, communities decided any action could wait until the next year … and the year after … and the year after until doing anything to prevent long-term flooding had moved from the back burner into a box in the attic.
Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Richwood City Council, during its budget discussions this week, got into a head-scratching debate over whether they should move forward with a proposed drainage study. The price tag of $150,000, admittedly a Rolls Royce-level estimate by the city’s finance director, combined with a desire not to raise taxes made the decision contentious.
Considering that amount of money would barely cover the cost of rebuilding one home that flooded during Harvey two years ago, it doesn’t seem unreasonable for the city to pony it up to find out how it can prevent hundreds of homes from being inundated by the next colossal storm.
One of the lessons of Harvey should be that just because it isn’t raining today doesn’t mean you won’t ever need an umbrella. The drainage study is a means to protect residents’ six-figure investments from catastrophe, and that is one of the vital purposes of local government.
Richwood’s leaders should not let their personal biases and aversion to short-term pain prevent them from safeguarding the city for the long term. The study is an important step in doing so, and it seems a small cost compared to the tens of millions of dollars in damage residents experienced just two years ago.