Real Estate

South of Cadillac Heights, Where, When It Rains Hard, a River Always Runs Through It

Ms. Greer called me this morning to tell me she made it through the night. She's a courtly, pretty lady, 88 years old, whose house is at the very end of Rockefeller Boulevard by Moore Park, south of Cadillac Heights, about four miles down river from downtown. She's the last house before the park.

When I visited yesterday, rising water from a creek was halfway across the park, headed her way. But that wasn't why I noticed her house: in her front yard she keeps beautifully tended shrubs -- weeded and clipped -- that my wife would know the names of. She told me her real garden was out back, but we couldn't get back there to see it because the water.

"It's a lot of work," she said, leaning on the gate of a chest-high fence at the front walk. In spite of the gloomy skies and distant thunder, kids were riding tricycles and bikes all around us. Her name is Ora Lee.

I said my wife was the big gardener at our house and that I tell people "I just work there." Got a little chuckle out of her.

Ms. Greer's phone was out. The city had activated its "reverse 911" warning system to call people if they needed to evacuate, but that wasn't going to do her much good. I'm sure the fire department or the Dallas police would have come by to check on her.

I asked her how long it had been since the water had been this high. "About nine or 10 years," she said. "It used to come up in the street down here, but I think they fixed that. I hope so, anyway."

We called the phone company from my cell. They already had a complaint on file from a neighbor, but they agreed to move Ms. Greer up the priority list when I said she was 88 and that there was flood water nearby.

People always talk about flood control as if it has to do only with the area where you build levees, in our case downtown. But the levees make the water pile up higher, go faster and eventually shoot out somewhere just below the levees. Generally speaking, people who live in flood-prone areas tend to have less political clout than people in protected areas. In this case, someone has given Ms. Greer the impression that she has been protected or will be protected by the massive public-works campaign called The Trinity River Project.

When she called this morning, she said, "I just wanted to thank you for helping with the phone." She told me she stayed dry over night. "But it's up in the back yard now. I hope it stops coming."

I kept my mouth shut about the little bit of quick research I had done on her property and the Trinity River Project. According to the graphic I found on the city's website, her property is in the middle of what is described as the future "Moore Park Wetlands" - a series of ponds designed to flood when the river and creeks come up.

Obviously somebody will tell her.

She told me, "Say hello to your wife."

Gardeners. They're all the same.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze

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