Houston flood victims upset over commissioner's comments

HOUSTON – A video recorded on August 4 has upset some Houston residents, especially those affected by the widespread floods in 2015 and 2016.

The short video clip shows Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack, of Precinct 3, giving a presentation.

“There are some people, frankly, over the years and the many years I’ve been doing this, that enjoy floods,” Radack said. “They like to see a flood about every seven years because they want new cars. They want their homes redone.”

Someone in the audience recorded the video and posted it online, and now some flood victims are speaking out.

“It upset me. It upset quite a few people,” said Carlos Goenaga, a Meyerland resident whose home flooded in both the Memorial Day flood of 2015 and the Tax Day flood of 2016. “He’s either inexcusably ignorant or just extremely cynical.”

Goenaga told KPRC he had an insurance claim of about $100,000 to make all the repairs on his home. Then, 11 months later, his home flooded again. That time, he and his wife had a three-day-old baby at home in addition to their two-year-old son. The flood turned their world upside down and forced them into a hotel for more than two months.

“There is so much emotional and financial stress dealing with a flood,” Goenaga said. “It is a fact that people get new cars and remodel their homes. It’s also a fact that they have no other choice. Just to even think that people 'enjoy' that ... 'enjoy' losing all their possessions that can’t be replaced.”

In a sit-down interview with KPRC, Radack said he meant what he said. Some people use catastrophic events to get money from their insurance company in a dishonest way and Radack said it’s unfortunate and that’s what he was referring to.

“I’m not directing that to anybody who has gone through the tragedy of a flood,” he said. “I’m talking about people who sit there and are happy that they have figured out a way to rip off FEMA or their insurance company.”

Radack said it’s disappointing that only a small portion of what he said was shared. The entire presentation was 90 minutes long.

“You’re taking something in the middle of someone’s conversation,” Radack said. “People rip off insurance companies all the time. They rip off FEMA all the time.”

“I don’t want a personal apology,” said Goenaga. “I would just like an acknowledgment that these floods make people suffer and cause an unimaginable amount of stress.”