Home on the water

Jacqueline Herrera just can’t bring herself to leave her home. This morning, a New York Times reporter spoke to her for the podcast The Daily. At that time, she was one of the holdouts—residents who chose not to evacuate in the face of Hurricane Harvey.

“I don’t know,” she said, “it’s hard to leave your entire life behind.”

It might have struck some listeners as odd that she, and millions of other Houstonians, would face the worst rainstorm in a century rather than leave their homes. Listening to her explain to the Times reporter that she loved her house, I totally got it. I met with a real estate agent on Saturday; my wife and I are selling a house that we both love. It’s hard.

For Ms. Herrera, the pain of leaving is likely to be temporary. For me and my wife, it’s voluntary. As you will see in Scott Thomas Anderson’s cover feature this week, there are thousands of people in North Delta communities, just 30 miles south of Sacramento, who feel their homes are threatened, permanently, and very much against their will.

The California WaterFix (“twin tunnels”) would create one of the most ambitious and most technologically advanced pieces of infrastructure the state has seen in many decades. It could be a huge boon to big farmers in Southern California. It could dramatically alter the Delta’s ecosystem. Just building it, a project that would take at least 14 years, could virtually destroy communities that have been there for generations.

I have been a supporter of Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to help our state’s agriculture industry while protecting the integrity of the San Francisco Bay. I think these Delta people have changed my mind.