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Archive for the ‘flooding’ Category

Were the impacts of Harvey in Houston a result of no zoning in the city of no limits? This assertion seems to be the catch-all phrase used by Houston’s detractors for all that was exposed by Harvey in terms of planning or the lack thereof.  On the other hand, critics of regulation like to point out that zoned cities fared just as badly as Houston during Harvey. Our Mayor famously said that “zoning wouldn’t have changed anything. We would have been a city with zoning that flooded.” (more…)

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There are many things that we must think about as we begin to consider how to rebuild Houston. But one thing stands above the rest, literally: elevation. Elevation is the number one predictor of flooding and flood damage.  Water seeks the low spots; we need to seek the high spots. It is just that simple.  Elevation needs to be our watchword.  Elevation needs to be the metric but which we gauge all new development as well as all redevelopment.

Elevation is about getting people and structures above the level of the floodwaters. All of the practices and policy issues that involve getting people out of harm’s way involve elevation. (more…)

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For many Texans, this week will be unlike any other because they got flooded. Getting on track will be long and heartbreaking. People will find their strength, but I also know their savings will be drained, debts created, and life’s plans disrupted. For many others, including myself, this week is the same as any other because my house did not flood. Water came close, but it receded in hours. For my wife and I, our nerves are frayed, but our finances and home life are whole. And, we will help friends and strangers recover.

The accounting in this disaster is simple: I and others who were spared received the Harvey dividend, while those flooded paid the Harvey premium. You don’t need to own stock to get a Harvey dividend. Live in the right place and build in the right way, and the payout for being resilient is virtually automatic. And, you don’t need to have insurance to owe premiums. Each day away from school and work, each dollar spent ripping out moldy carpet, each month that passes to get life right-side up is a premium paid.

This may seem like an unfair lottery for those that got flooded, but this is no lottery. Where we build and what we build matters greatly. The term business-as-usual is shorthand for lack of vision and courage, and business-as-usual is putting people in harms’ way. It is impossible to know when the next accounting will take place. But, here we are again, the third 100-year event in three years.

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Capture

An example of floodplain tailgating?

As I drove into work this morning I found myself behind an 18-wheeler. I was keeping the required distance—one car length for every 10mph, more or less, when the truck swerved just a wee bit, getting pretty close to the concrete divider of the inside lane we were traveling in. (more…)

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