Hays County Floodplain Administrator Tom Pope Named ‘Floodplain Administrator of the Year’
County receives Floodplain Management Excellence Award
Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX – The Hays County Commissioners Court on Tuesday recognized County Floodplain Administrator Tom Pope, who was named Floodplain Administrator of the Year by the Texas Floodplain Management Association. The association has also honored Hays County with its Floodplain Management Excellence Award.
Pope, who has been Floodplain Administrator for the last 11 years of his 33-year journey with the Hays County Development Services Department, received accolades from his supervisors as well as each member of the Commissioners Court.
Known as a man of few words, Pope said, “I appreciate this, I’m honored to be doing what I’m doing and have the opportunity to work with my good bosses and coworkers and the Commissioners Court.”
The Floodplain Management Association award is presented annually “to one individual who has shown excellence in the field of floodplain management. This individual has demonstrated dedication through administration of his/her community's floodplain management program in pursuing the goals of flood loss reduction and in the prevention of loss of life.”
Pope’s immediate supervisor, Development Services Division Manager Roxie McInnis, recalled how during the summer of 2015 following the Memorial Day flood, dozens of people came up to Pope at a community meeting in Wimberley to thank him for his help in understanding new floodplain maps that FEMA had drafted. Development Services Director Clint Garza echoed McInnis’s comments about his passion for public service, noting that after the 2015 floods many residents thanked Pope for previously insisting they follow floodplain regulations in building to new height standards, thus saving their homes.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley related how he could take Pope just about anywhere in Precinct 3 and he could point out where the high water marks were from any of several flood events. “Tom was out in the area the night of and for days after the 2015 Memorial Weekend flood, helping people who were still reeling from their losses,” Conley said, “and he even took a family who had lost their home back to his house in San Marcos to stay for a while, lending them his car and giving them clothes and shoes.”
Precinct 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant, who once had a business installing on-site sewage facilities (Pope also has responsibilities in that county division), told the audience that he had known Pope for more than 30 years and called him “a very good example of a public servant – dedicated, efficient, concise and effective, with a lot of humanity.”
“You’ve been there in good times and difficult times, and you’ve stuck with Hays County – we are the recipient of all your hard work, dedication and loyalty throughout,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe said. “I really appreciate you.”
Precinct 2 Commissioner Mark Jones said that he most appreciates the help Pope provided to Buda residents after the All Saints Day flood in 2015, noting that Pope was on the ground helping people. He also noted that during some legislation review at the Capitol recently, “Tom picked up on three or four holes in the legislation in no time, and was instrumental in getting the legislation corrected and passed to our benefit.”
County Judge Bert Cobb, M.D., chose a Hebrew word to describe Tom, calling him a “mensch – a person of integrity and honor.”
Garza went on to say, “In public service, Tom has never forgotten that he is here to serve; there’s no higher calling.”
The County’s Floodplain Management Excellence Award from the Texas Floodplain Management Association, is “for a county that has shown excellence in the field of floodplain management beyond the staff-led floodplain management program. The awarded county demonstrates achievements in reducing flood property losses and preventing loss of life through its floodplain management program. In addition, the county goes beyond the typical program and encourages citizen interest and action to minimize the impact of flooding.”
McInnis thanked the many departments, municipalities and other agencies that have partnered with Hays County over the last 10 years to develop a floodplain program that goes beyond the basics and strives to engage with citizens to help them understand their environment and to protect against the loss of life and property.
“We’ve studied 700 stream-miles throughout the county, and the Court has invested in studies that produce data that my team uses to help people make educated decisions about how to build so they keep themselves and their investments out of harm’s way,” McInnis said. “It’s profound to know the work we do here day-to-day can help protect someone’s life.
Left to right, County Judge Bert Cobb, M.D., Precinct 2 Commissioner Mark Jones, Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe, Floodplain Administrator of the Year Tom Pope, Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley and Precinct 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant. The Commissioners Court congratulated Pope on his selection as Floodplain Administrator of the Year from the Texas Floodplain Management Association and also congratulated all the staff and partners that helped Hays County win the Floodplain Management Excellence Award.