Impromptu July 4th Float Stars in Cancelled Freedom Over Texas Festivities

Mayor Turner had already cancelled all Freedom Over Texas events yesterday — save for the fireworks — by the time the HOUSTON sign planted in Eleanor Tinsley Park got caught up in the flow of things and began drifting downstream, away from the Bud Light Beer Garden that it originally fronted. Despite the disorder, the letters managed to stay afloat during their time on the water, captured by Chronicle photographer Yi-Chin Lee.

They ended up making landfall in the middle of the lawn:


That grassy area was mostly submerged during prime time yesterday:

Putting these amenities at odd angles as well:

Photos: Yi-Chin Lee

Rainy Spell

13 Comment

  • What’s with all the holiday floods? Someone up there’s trying to screw with our time off.

  • The Houston letters floating away is the best summary of what’s happening with our city. It’s not an overstatement that our elected officials are paralyzed to make the big sweeping changes necessary to keep this city vibrant for future generations. But hey, more exurban and floodplain development feeding water into the already strained bayou system brings in tax dollars we can spend today! Who needs a city 100 years from now?!

  • I think it’s unfair to place all the blame on elected officials though. There are laws that they must follow whether they like it or not.
    Residents/voters above all else are the single constant variable in all of this that prevents these type of issues from being addressed or rectified in proper and due time. Nowhere in the state of Texas do I see local/state jurisdictions being empowered with the trust and finances to make the necessary fixes.
    Our city is so diverse and spread out that finding common ground on fixes and funding from one neighborhood to the next is not easy.

  • “Hey, let’s have our festivities near the bayou where it floods during a holiday”

  • travelguy73,
    are you ready for higher taxes? That is what it is going to take for us to have a city that will handle the strains of storms better.

  • So how does a place like Miami handle drainage issues? I mean, that’s a big flat spread out city with lots of development, but I don’t see lots of new stories about houses flooding in Miami. Just asking, I really don’t know, other than Dade county being criss-crossed by lots of canals.

  • Toasty and Joel – the elected officials had a billion dollar drainage fee and multi-billion dollar tirz system allocated for blight (which by definition includes flooding). The elected officials failed, are currently failing and will fail in the future if given the opportunity.

  • Actually, Miami has experienced ‘sunny day flooding’ for a few years now.

  • I’d be interested in what Miami does differently as well, but the geography of Miami is also vastly different from that of Houston. Miami is maybe 10miles wide and I’d assume they have a pretty direct eastward runoff for water. Houston is what, 50, 60miles wide? Nobody is going to be building in the Everglades the same way Houston has built out the Katy Prairie. The runoff from developments feeding into the bayous in Houston must surely dwarf what the bayous/canals in Miami are expected to handle.
    @flood voter, well understood but I believe that only buttresses my prior statement. If the city cannot present a trustworthy face and voters don’t have faith in providing additional funding to the city then nothing will ever change. I’l admit I know nothing of the boondoggle other than that the for/against sides were well established before any fees were ever assessed.
    Regardless though, I’m certainly not going to put my faith in voters to do the right thing either The city has been sitting on massive debt loads for countless years now and voters have continued to seek ways to cut revenue rather than pay down their own debt.
    This leads us to the point where we only have ourselves to blame, not others.

  • I guess the average voter can’t differentiate between the City, which levies a drainage fee, and the County, which wants to pass a bond issue for flood prevention and storm drainage improvements. The two agencies work on totally different projects. I thought folks trusted County officials more, but maybe that’s not the case, and people seem to think of them all as one big inept bureaucracy.

  • @ Local Planner: I wouldn’t be so quick to think that the County didn’t play a material part in this mess we are in. Harris has for years let these issues fester. It is only now when political points can be scored that Emmett has decided to pay (vocal) attention to it. Our knight in shining armor. If they can get the bonds passed and actually do something to meaningfully help, they deserve the credit. But let’s not whitewash their role, they are just as culpable as the city. They do have a nice southern drawl and sound sincere, though ;).

    @ Toasty – yes, I’m fine paying higher taxes if real improvements are made. Improvements that we don’t undo in 10 years with future development.

  • @ShadyHeightster Can’t compare Houston and Miami. Miami’s sprawl is linear along the coast and thus the path of travel for rainwater is much shorter and more directly tied to the Atlantic. In Houston our bayous must move water many miles through vast watersheds before reaching a tidal outfall, thus causing many of the issues we have which are local capacity deficiencies. This is also a reason why it’s so difficult to “fix” our problem. We have hundreds and thousands of miles of drainage arteries to improve/widen in an already built environment. Expensive and difficult proposition. Like building a highway on top of a local feeder road. It can be done, but more $$$. Houston’s problem is somewhat unique to this area and our built environment. Many lessons learned around the world, but our solution will be uniquely tailored to our city.

    Buffalo Bayou park is absolutely intended to flood during any major rain event. For that reason, it’s a risky place to host a major event given our recent history with such events. Call it poor planning on behalf of the party hosters, but the fact that the park flooded is not a cause for concern. What is concerning is that there are entities willing to spend countless dollars to host an event in a location that may/may not be available for pedestrian use.

  • @tg73: My comment wasn’t to excuse the County for any culpability, or indicate that they don’t have any culpability; it was merely to point out that people seem to conflate the City’s drainage fees and general responsibilities with the County, its proposed bond issue and its responsbilities, and the sins of one agency get oversplashed onto the other.