A couple of weeks ago, as floodwaters were beginning a rapid rise in much of Texas, a Houston radio station reported that officials in the town of Simonton were worried about Lake Livingston Dam. The on-air error was repeated on the station’s website.
In reality, the folks in Simonton, which is near the Brazos River west of Houston, weren’t the least bit worried about our dam, which helps tame the Trinity River. Simonton had bigger fish to fry… and those fish weren’t from Lake Livingston.
While people along the Trinity have had their own flooding problems, Lake Livingston Dam has been doing what dams are supposed to do.
What dams do not do is make everyone happy.
That was evident when more than 200 people gathered in Livingston High School’s Florence Crosby Auditorium on June 27, 1991 for the first of several workshops hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, working in tandem with the Trinity River Authority. The corps was launching a $1.4 million, federally-funded study of flooding problems in the Trinity River basin.
The spring of 1991 had been a wet one, but it didn’t come close to the spring of 1990, when even President George H.W. Bush stopped by to view the record 100,800 cubic feet of water per second being released from Lake Livingston Dam. It was that flood that was the focus of the federal study, and the gathering of people in the high school auditorium 25 years ago.
The meeting was designed to gather input from those impacted by the flooding.
One of the largest and most vocal contingents came from Deep River Plantation in Trinity County, above the lake. Holiday Lake Estates near Goodrich, below the dam; Horseshoe Lake Estates, further south down the river, and those living along the shores of Lake Livingston were also well represented.
Pre-release of water from the dam before flood waters work their way into the lake, a buyout of flood-prone properties, better communication to warn of impending floods, and dredging and creation of smaller lakes upstream to retain some water before it reaches the lake were among options suggested by citizens.
The Corps of Engineers and TRA emphasized that the meeting was to gather information. This first phase of the study, scheduled to be complete early in 1992, was designed to determine what areas warranted further study.
Also in June of 1991:
* In continuing fallout from the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, all six branches of Jasper Federal Savings and Loan were closed for good on Friday afternoon, June 14, 1991, ending two years of federal conservatorship. Branches were located in Livingston, Onalaska, Shepherd, Jasper, Kirbyville and Woodville.
The Resolution Trust Corporation, which had been running the savings and loan since 1989, had been unable to find a buyer. After locking the doors that Friday afternoon, the RTC began sending out checks to depositors, who were insured through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Jasper Federal had deposits totaling approximately $137 million at the time of the closure.
* Classes were out for the summer, but the Livingston Junior High Student Council received word that their “Project Salute” had been named one of the top 10 projects in the state. The students had helped to host a parade and a salute to the troops earlier in the year.
Officers included Craig Williams, Erich Morris, Mandy Major, Scott Galloway and Meredith Lovett.
* Darrell Murphy and Eddie Harvey got their picture in the paper after catching a huge alligator gar in the Trinity River. The gar was over 7 feet long and weighed 185 pounds.
The floods didn’t seem to bother the fish at all.