County seeks joining Regional Flood Corporation

Published 7:40 am Wednesday, December 4, 2019

By Michael Cole

The Orange Leader

Despite two power outages, Commissioners tackled a brief session, on Tuesday, concerning flood preparations, TPC, and the Orange County Appraisal District.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Kirk Roccaforte was absent due to a medical appointment.

Informing the court on the TPC explosion, Orange County Emergency Manager Joel Ardoin said, “Strike teams continue to monitor air quality. So far, they have done over 2000 tests, and all have come back negative. They are getting some positive hits, but my understanding is that it is right there at ground zero.”

When asked if Orange County suffered any damage, Adroin answered, “I do not believe so.”

On recovery efforts from Tropical Storm Imelda, Ardoin reminded the court the last day to apply for FEMA assistance was Tuesday, December 3, 2019. The Disaster Recovery Center is still open to handle filings.

The Commissioner’s Court also passed a resolution to join an eight-county corporation for flood management.

The Counties of Tyler, Jasper, Hardin, Newton, Orange, Liberty, Jefferson and Chambers County would work together in order to as the resolution reads, “to engage in planning concerning disaster mitigation and other projects or programs to protect the residents of our community, infrastructure, industry, businesses, and housing against flooding; to design, develop, construct, operate, manage, repair, maintain, finance, equip, improve, enlarge, extend,

acquire, and improve integrated flood damage reduction systems, and to conduct any and all

other lawful business and perform any other related function or operation.”

“This is an entity that we are looking at so we can compete with these bigger entities like Montgomery County,” Orange County Judge John Gothia said. “We need to have a bigger BCA (Benefit-Cost Analysis) for this. When you apply for a project anywhere in the eight counties, we apply as one group with a higher BCA than if we applied just as Orange County.”

At this time, there is no financial commitment to the corporation. Tuesday’s action merely indicated Orange County’s interest in joining the corporation. 

Later, the court might need to invest money into the project, but any funding would need to be voted on at the time.

Orange County is also looking at entering into a Sabine River Watershed group with Jasper and Newton Counties at a later date.

The first step after forming the corporation for seeking funds for flood management would be completing a flood study.

“The last study which was done on it, I believe was four years ago and it was done from a very high level,” Commissioner Pct. 4 Robert Viator Jr said.

Gothia added, “And that study was done before the rain events such as Harvey or Imelda”

The court then looked at who would be named to the Orange County Appraisal District Board of Directors for a term beginning on January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2021 term.

 The Court controls 1199 votes for members to the board and nominated TW Pementer, Tim Andrews, Karen Fisher, James Brown, Laura Floyd, and Tim Shazo.