Archive for March, 2018

NYT floods Houston

New York Times map of flood damage, Hurricane Harvey, Harris County

also at  Gray Matters

Flooding during Harvey was not a random occurrence.  Heavy rainfall—averaging 35 inches in Harris County –was widespread, but the flooding was not.  The deepest flooding, the kind where rescue boats were needed, was where the bayous and creeks overflowed their banks, flooding low-lying zones along our bayous and creeks.  There were also many areas that flooded as a result of poorly maintained or designed urban drainage systems. But these were a small fraction of the overall flooding.

The low-lying areas along our waterways are the natural floodplains excavated by bayous and creeks over many thousands of years. It flooded here long before we, or even the Karankawa, ever showed up. Over the millennia, the bayous naturally widened their valleys, or floodplains, to where the system could easily absorb a storm like Harvey.

That system is still here—and it handled Harvey very well.  We were the ones who didn’t handle it well. If we had not given over most of our floodplains to development, Harvey would still have caused us grief—but it would not have much more than a nuisance.  We would have had to stay home for 2-3 days, but we would have avoided a great deal of trauma. (more…)

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