Port Acre residents want action on drainage

Published 8:24 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2018

One constant theme kept repeating at a community meeting in Port Acres about recent flooding — either get these drainage problems fixed or we’re moving.

Port Acres lies in Precinct 4 and the meeting was held Tuesday night at the Knights of Columbus Hall on West Port Arthur Road. City officials were there to answer questions and give information while several residents stood in line to ask questions. Not only did Port Acres, El Vista, Montrose and Palomar experience heavy flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey, but also from heavy rains on Jan. 27. Many ditches were clogged with debris and the water wouldn’t flow.

One resident said he didn’t feel emergency plans were followed with Harvey because several city trucks flooded at the operations center on Highway 73.

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Mayor Derrick Freeman said the city had to follow the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s rules to be compensated and the blame falls on him for the trucks staying at the operations center. He added that he wanted citizens to hold him accountable.

Another resident said they photographed a city worker sleeping in his truck. Freeman said that was unacceptable. Harold Doucet Sr., Precinct 4 City Councilman, said for residents to call him with the truck number, where it’s located and the date and time when they see something like this.

One resident asked to speak with a representative from the Jefferson County Drainage District 7, but no one was at the meeting.

A resident said the DD7 pumps didn’t come on automatically as they’re designed to do and no one was manning the pump either. They didn’t turn on until 8 a.m. on Jan. 27.

Another resident said it’s a shame a meeting of this type had to be held, and these solutions should have been done 20 years ago. He suggested cementing ditches for better water flow. Furthermore, they didn’t have as many drainage issues until the Spur 93 Business Park was built several years ago.

One man said he watches his neighbors place trash in their ditches that causes blockage and city ordinances needed to be enforced.

Two residents live on 67th Street and said it floods there with just a slight rain. The problem could be fixed by simply putting in larger culverts.

Freeman said the city is working on securing $60 million in bonds to repair streets and infrastructure under the ground as well.

Another solution he would like to try is to create a Municipal Development District in the city that would receive sales tax from petrochemical industries in the city’s extra territorial jurisdiction. Thus far, they are unable to do so without a Municipal Development District.

“With this, we can finally do something about it,” he said. “We need it because there’s no sales tax from refineries in the city of Port Arthur.”

Lastly, Freeman said he would like to get together with the residents again in three months so they can hold him accountable for the solutions.

He added that Texas Department of Transportation dump trucks were cleaning other areas of the city while city garbage trucks with longer grappling hooks were working Port Acres to clean the ditches of trash and ensure better water flow.