Boomtown SE Texas: Let it rain

We had a hell of a rain on Friday. The thunder started booming about 4 a.m. and didn’t seem to stop until nearly 8 a.m. Normally, I can sleep and sleep well through thunder and a heavy rain, but this stuff just kept on rolling. The rain did likewise, falling and falling some more. Some areas in Jefferson County were hit with 4 inches to 6 inches from only several hours of rain. Consequently, some of the same old underpasses went under water.

The city of Beaumont has spent millions to install better conduits for flood water to flow off into the Neches River. The river, which is the Beaumont-Mid Jefferson County-Northern Orange County portion of the Sabine-Neches Waterway, is located on the eastern side of Beaumont. Still the area floods when we get a lot of water in a short period of time. And people still drive their cars into the flooded underpasses. I think I saw a figure of like 36 cars had to be pulled from underwater. Fortunately, no one was killed. Such is the price you pay when you live in an area that is at most about 20 feet above sea level. But, I guess the river can always use some refreshing.

I see different figures but the Port of Beaumont — on the Neches end of the waterway — usually runs from about the 4th largest port in the country to the 7th. I used to like to go down to the port and take a look at the big ships in port. Now they have a more restricted are around the port due to maritime security, a.k.a. MARSEC.

 “The Coast Guard employs a three-tiered system of Maritime Security (MARSEC) Levels designed to easily communicate to the Coast Guard and our maritime industry partners pre-planned scalable responses for credible threats,” says the Coasties.

A liquid natural gas tanker is assisted by tugs on the Sabine-Neches Waterway on the Upper Texas  Coast.
A liquid natural gas tanker is assisted by tugs on the Sabine-Neches Waterway on the Upper Texas Coast.

President Obama signed a bill last month that is meant to boost water projects across the country. Southeast Texas is to get the largest bucks from that legislation, the Sabine-Neches Navigation District said last week. The district said there are 71,000 vessel transits — meaning in and out  each year — in the entire Sabine-Neches complex. Those group of ports are located in Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange and Sabine Pass. And since the modern petroleum industry began “right cheer,” as our Cajun Texans say, I suppose it is only logical that most of the cargo sailing around the area’s ports consist of crude oil and it’s byproducts.

 “We produce about 13% of the nation’s gasoline daily,” said Clayton Henderson, assistant general manager of the Sabine-Neches Navigation District 

Oh, and I forgot to mention there are big ol’ liquid natural gas (LNG) terminals at either side of where the Sabine-Neches and its bay, Sabine Lake, empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

If the remainder of the Keystone Pipeline gets allowed and built, it will end up right cheer in Jefferson County. And for something kind of completely different, some of the stockpiles of chemical weapons being taken from Syria for destruction — where do they go? Want to take a guess? Those nasty “weapons of mass destruction” are being sent to Port Arthur.

Now one may ask, why did he start with heavy thunder and rain, and end up with tons of petroleum products and weapons of mass destruction?

To look at it one way there is certainly a lot of stuff to go boom were the wrong people to get hold of all those dangerous product made and transported to and from our area. We would probably need a lot of foam if something caught fire, but we have plenty of water or so it seems.

Texas is a huge state and not even the biggest in the U.S. It is second in size to Alaska. But one gets a feel for its size when it looks at average rainfall from the nearly 60 inches per year we average here in Jefferson County to the 9-something inches received some 800 miles away in El Paso County.

I have to say that the LP terminals at the terminus of Sabine Lake bother me the most. But what can one do? Boosters of the project to deepen the Sabine-Neches channel by 8 feet say this will “promise” 78,000 new jobs in the area. It’s all about the jobs isn’t it? Or at the very least, the promise of jobs.

It seems as if someone needs to use the existing channel to transport to us a big ol’ “paradigm shifter.” Get that sucker rigged up like snappy, and working. Then, we should ask our Native-American friends who live about an hour away to the north on the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation if they might be so nice to come down here somewhere and do some rain dancing. Because even with all the rain we already receive if things get rough we might need even more liquid gold.

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