Published on June 2, 2020

Quest to opening river mouth like a bumpy elevator ride

By Janice Edwards / The Bulletin

I like to tell stories and legends about the history and people who live in Brazoria County and especially along the San Bernard River, which now needs our help. We are still waiting for the final permit to open the mouth of the river using the RESTORE Act. Our “singing river” still suffers from lockjaw.

But 2020 promises to be a pivotal year in our quest to open the river mouth. Many things are teetering on the edge of happening locally, statewide and federally, which could change the current course of the river before next year’s hurricane season.

A closed river mouth is a sad state of affairs for a river’s heart. The San Bernard is now a river of tears.

That is the best way to describe our river as it slowly closes. These are the tears of residents; the tears of failed businesses along the river; and the tears of those who navigate its waters and the waters of the Intracoastal Waterway.

We can add the tears of our feathered friends that are dying just short of Austin’s Woods, the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge and the Betty Brown Song Bird Unit.

Our migrating friends fly across the Gulf of Mexico and look for the mouths of rivers they have used for years as “highways” to their nesting grounds and vacation spots. What happens when they can’t find their river mouth? Some fly to where the river mouth should be, and then they flap their wings and look, and flap and look again, until their already tired bodies can no longer stand the delay and confusion. Exhausted – they fall into the Gulf of Mexico.

The birds that don’t perish in their quest for the river mouth do the same sad flight for a few years until those left move on to another “highway.”

I was thinking about the status of the rivermouth when I drifted off to sleep the other night. I dreamed of an elevator ride that was so much like our efforts to get the river mouth dredged open.

Some destinations are just harder to get to than others. Roy, my husband, and I knew where we wanted to go; we got the address. It was a tall building, and we were just a bit intimidated as we signed in at the guard station and moved on to the elevator banks of highly polished elevators being used by a lot of people.

We wanted to go up, so we walked to the first open elevator car and turned around to punch the button. What? This elevator only went halfway to the top.

We got in and started the ride. Along the way at different floors, more people joined us, all wanting to go to the same place we did. At one point as the doors started to open, the brakes slipped a bit, and we back-slid. We held our breaths. But, the brakes held. The elevator went back to the floor where it should have stopped, and more people joined the ride up. Before we knew it, we were at the midpoint.

All of us exited the first elevator and sprinted to the elevator we needed to continue our journey. There were fewer stops in this elevator, but we did stop a couple of times to add fellow passengers. The car kept going up, as did all our hopes.

We could hear discussions on the top floor. We were so close. And then there was a power outage. We got stuck in the dark between two floors. We pushed the emergency button and waited.

At first, everyone was disheartened. How could we have come so far, just to be stymied this close to our goal? Then we heard the rescue team making its way towards us. That gave us all hope – we would not be stuck in this elevator for long, and now we again had a chance to reach our goal. It was just a matter of time.

Even so, we knew we must stay vigilant and help in our own rescue. Remember, the brakes slipped once already.

The elevator in the dream was symbolic of our efforts to get the river mouth opened, the years of hard work and the obstacles we overcame. We are so close to opening the river again. The rescue team is now helping us reach the top floor.
The words of an old torch song rifted into the haze of sleep. “Cry me a river, cry me a river… I’ve cried a river over you.”
I hope that soon we will be celebrating in behalf of the river.

(Write Jan in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)