"Why yes, we have redecorated the kitchen."

So Much for Waterfront Views

A story in your daily information source raises a significant question (cue raspy TV news voice-over guy): "Are the levees in Fort Bend County in trouble?"


Well, no one really knows, it seems. The story makes note that several major master-planned communities -- First Colony, Sienna Plantation, Pecan Grove, New Territory and Greatwood — "simply wouldn't exist without the massive mounds of clay meant to shield them from the Brazos River and its tributaries." It also notes that a division manager with the Federal Emergency Management Agency sent a memo to FEMA's regional directors basically saying that the agency didn't know where America's levees where, and could they please locate them, m'kay? Great. (No word as to when the TPS reports are due, though.)

So yeah, believe it or not, the disaster gurus at FEMA don't have a grasp on this whole dear-God-this-whole-damned-place-could-be-submerged thing. In order to meet with FEMA's rigid standards, levees such as the one in Fort Bend have to withstand a 100-year flood, a rare but entirely possible deluge. Fine, so what's the problem? When asked if the floodplain measurement in the area, which is used to determine effective flood protection, was wrong, County Judge Robert Hebert has this to say:

"No one can tell me for certain."

Yikes. As someone with parents in Sugar Land, the thought of a levee not holding up to a flood is disconcerting. (I mean, what would happen to my folks' home — not to mention my high school yearbook?) Hebert says that the powers that be in the SL need to make sure that communities create effective levees. If not, he notes, a place such as First Colony might have "2,000 or 3,000 upscale homes, not the 10,000 homes it has in every price range." (Blasphemy!)

We'll have to keep an eye on this story. Good thing the news came out after Money Magazine's recent report of Great American Towns... -- Steven Devadanam

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