Questions about eroding levee left unanswered

July 13, 2010 at 2:13 a.m.

At least 12 people showed up Tuesday to learn what the city council plans to do with an eroding levee in south Victoria, but left without an answer.

Mayor Will Armstrong said the city council's agenda did not provide for public input and then announced it would meet behind closed doors to discuss the levee.

There was no action or announcement after the nearly two-hour closed-door meeting.

Victoria resident Frank Mendietta, one of those at the meeting, said his house in south Victoria could be affected by the council decision on the levee. He said he'd like to see the city do something about the erosion problem.

"It can't stand too many more floods," he said.

The levee along the Guadalupe River breached in two places during the 1998 flood and continues to suffer from erosion that threatens its integrity.

One breach was just downstream from the downtown Victoria power plant and the other near the end of Southwest Ben Jordan Street. After the river level dropped and the area dried enough, the city of Victoria had both repaired.

Officials had believed that section of the levee near Ben Jordan protected part of nearby Victoria.

But John Johnston, the city's flood plain administrator, has said that's not the case. He said those floodwaters actually come from water backing up from the south outfall and not from the river.

He estimated about six houses outside the city are protected by that part of the levee.

Richard Fishbeck said he lives in the oxbow near the levee and owns property in south Victoria.

"The levee must be there to prevent flooding in that area," he said. Otherwise, what would ordinarily be considered a moderate flood would cause problems for much of the area northeast of the levee.

Victoria attorney Bill Miller, who also owns property in the oxbow, said he hasn't threatened the city with a lawsuit and couldn't say why the council was meeting in executive session.

He said the road to his home is on the levee, but he was also concerned about the residents northeast of the levee that would be flooded without the protection offered by the levee.

"They are the ones who are going to get the real disaster if the levee is taken away," Miller said.



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