CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Coastal Bend residents are very familiar with drainage issues leading to flooding on their properties, which eventually get into their homes.
Three longtime Nueces County residents insist the county has done little, if anything, to alleviate the problem, but three county officials insist they have.
We met with Bobby Chesnutt, Dan Zamora, and Larry Fuhrken the same day they went in front of Nueces County Commissioners Court to explain just how bad the drainage issues are; they've each lived in the area for more than 20 years.
We're primarily talking about areas in and around County Road 1889 and 52B near Robstown.
These drainage issues have led to home flooding, as Zamora showed with pictures he took of water getting into his property last year.
Meteorologists tell us that in 2021, Nueces County recorded approximately 21 inches of rain from May-July.
About 300-400 percent above normal.
"And so you went this morning, on Wednesday, May 25, and you spoke to county commissioners and told them what?" we asked Chesnutt.
"We're still waiting to see some work done to clean the ditches out," he said. "And what did they say? No reply."
We asked county commissioners Joe A. Gonzalez, Robert Hernandez, and county director of public works Juan Pimentel if that was true. And if so — why?
"They keep on saying that their ditches haven't been cleaned in the past 30 years," Pimentel said. "We just cleaned them. You should be happy because we just cleaned your ditches."
By the way, the areas discussed in this story fall under Pct. 1 commissioner Robert Hernandez's jurisdiction.
"It still goes to this big ditch down here then turns right," Chesnutt explained to us as he, Fuhrken and Zamora men drove us around the areas of concern.
"And then eventually it's supposed to make its way all the way down to the Oso Creek, which is some 20 miles away," Chesnutt said.
"Not to be a wise guy," we asked, "but, how do you know that?"
Because I've walked it," Chesnutt said. "Driven it."
Gonzalez acknowledges that Nueces County has received federal dollars to address tri-county drainage issues, but explains the money is only for a study on how best to address drainage.
"It might be millions of dollars, but it's only for a study, not for infrastructure," he said. "You don't get a penny from that to help people in those areas, unfortunately."
And fixing all the county's drainage issues is going to cost millions.
Furthermore, Gonzalez adds that the county has limited jurisdiction — it cannot go onto property owned or controlled by other entities, such as the city of Robstown, TxDOT, or private property.
And then there's the issue of the county's available manpower in the public works department to do the work that needs to be done.
Pimentel said the number of employees in his department has gone from 240 to 80.
"The commissioner in charge of our area, Robert Hernandez, specifically addressed me at commissioners court," Chesnutt said. "He said 'It's gonna take time. It's gonna take time. Give us more time, OK?' And here we are a year later, and very little has been done."
Interestingly, the ditches directly surrounding Chesnutt's home are completely cleaned out.