Construction worker says he 'was doing my job' after unclogging drain to clear flooded Hwy 288

Friday, November 2, 2018
Highway 288 hero has humble response after saving flooded commute
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Highway 288 hero has humble response after saving flooded commute

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For a few minutes of intense, muscle-straining work, Henry Alvarez became a local hero for those who were caught in a huge traffic jam Wednesday.

Only one of five lanes of Highway 288 northbound was open because of an intense storm that flooded the highway. Alvarez dispatched the water by clearing a clogged drain that had been covered by grass and pulled two tire treads from what became a whirlpool that challenged his balance.

HIGHWAY HERO: Lone worker unclogs drain on flooded 288

He's considered one of the top maintenance workers for Jorgenson Construction, which is one of the firms contracted in the construction of a 10-mile toll project that bisects the highway.

Because a contract between the firm and TxDOT prohibits employees from giving interviews, Alvarez couldn't talk with us. But his comments to praise posted to him on social media spoke of his character.

"I was doing my job," he wrote repeatedly.

His dramatic drain clearing was considered emergency maintenance, according to the spokesperson for the 288 Group, which represents the private companies building the project, largely with their own funds, in exchange for the tolls that will be generated.

"Henry was doing his job under extreme circumstances," wrote Raynese Edwards, with Blueridge Transportation Group. "Fortunately for the team, he made a difference yesterday, but we believe the team makes a difference everyday."

The 288 is known for chronic flooding during rain events. According to Edwards, the tollway project includes installing new pumps and a drainage feature to improve that.

Its 10-mile portion of the larger tollway project is scheduled to be completed in less than a year.

Follow Deborah Wrigley on Twitter and Facebook.