An Adult at Harris County?

September 12, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: Harvey

As we all know too well, the Texas Gulf Coast, including our own Harris County, home of the Planet Hooston, received its THIRD 500 years storm 10 days ago, flooding over 100,000 homes and causing $150 to $180 billion of damage in Texas.  AGAIN.

Ed Emmett, who is our illustrious County Judge, just had a brilliant idea – why don’t we fix that?  Good idea, Ed.  First let’s talk about some numbers.

  • 178,000 structures sit IN the 100 year floodplain (remember, we’ve had 3 – 500 year plus storms in 3 years.  County flooding guru Jeff Lindner said Harvey was the 40,000 year storm.  How’s that feel?
  • Here’s what really stupid…The county’s 2,450 miles of bayous and streams can only handle 20% of a 100 year storm.  This is why it floods when it gets humid here.
  • There is almost unbridled development going on in flood prone areas.
  • Our two western flood control basins, Addicks and Barker, have outlived their limited capacity to control flooding, as demonstrated by the thousands of homes that were flooded after the county started releasing water to protect the dams themselves.

Emmett, who is a mainstream Republican (he uses his brain) is known for his pragmatic management style.  He’s calling for sweeping changes to thinking on flood control, including a new reservoir, buyouts of flood prone houses, and other flood control measures.  In presenting the plan and speaking of the now common flooding, he said, “We can’t continue to say these are anomalies. You’ve got to say, We’re in a new normal, so how are we going to react to it?”

All I say is amen to that.  The $20 billion it would cost to mitigate flood damage is just a fraction of ONE of these debilitating events.

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8 Comments to “An Adult at Harris County?”


  1. I was fortunate enough to marry in the early 1970s a beautiful brown-eyed brunette who came from the east side of Houston. I spent a fortune driving I-45 from north Texas to Hou before we married, plus helping Southwest Airlines move from start-up to ridiculously profitable airline. (You’re welcome Herb 🙂 ) But I was there when the humidity approached 95%, causing the drainage ditches to fill and Washburn tunnel to sweat rivers. During our courtship we agreed that she would leave her part time bench chemist job in Hou and teach math and chemistry to mush heads in DFW. Best decision we ever made, although the tornado that tore through east Dallas county a couple of Christmases ago did give me pause to review that decision. A tornado will alter your world view in much the same way I suspect a hurricane does. Thank g*d there is no global warming. If there was global warming how f’ing worse would all this be???

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  2. I live about a half hour away from a town that had it’s entire downtown business district destroyed twice by a tsunami in the 1900’s. After the second time, the city bought up the property in the low lying area and turned it into an oceanside parks and recreation area.

    The business district is now on higher ground, and whenever there’s a tsunami watch or warning, far fewer people need to evacuate the area. People enjoy the parks, the expansive soccer and baseball fields, the canoe club area, the boating…

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  3. JAKvirginia says:

    If I may, the solutions start with better thinking. Instead of “flood control”, let’s think of it as “water management “. Water is resource. Letting it flood an area, then drain into the Gulf (which doesn’t need more water) seems like a great waste of this resource. Especially when the cycle of drought visits Texas again. Bigger, bolder, and wiser ideas are needed.

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  4. Oh, come on. You think Republicans are going to spend a few bucks now to save a lot more later? This is the party that believes in strangling the IRS, when a dollar spent on them brings in about five dollars. But then they also don’t want a strong IRS looking at their own dodgy returns.

    Also planning for more big storms would suggest that the climate actually is changing, and they have to deny that even if they’re caught between a flood and a holocaust of wildfire.

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  5. I come from an area that is not the least bit scared of zoning. Its worked out quite well for decade after decade. And no, Freedumb Caucus, no on loses their rights to an over regulating government. Nor do they lose people to flood cuz the floods you see just don’t happen. And they are happy about that and continue living there and persuading others to join them. Hence the economy grows. As for climate change deniers, all they ever do with their damn denials is actually end up insulting victims of all these storms and floods. Course, they would never ever believe that.

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  6. Rapid City is a town of 50,000 in the foothills of the Black Hills (highest peak nearly 8000 ft). In 1972, after a 7″ rainfall, an upriver damn burst and flooded through town killing 230+. Zoning now disallows any building in the flood zone, so a lovely green space meanders through the small city of nearly 100,000 now. There are parks, bike trails and other recreational opportunities. It’s a great plan and saves lives. What’s not to like?

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  7. I don’t really understand why Ed Emmett is a Republican. He seems intelligent and sensible, which are not words which usually describe Republicans.

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  8. Since the gummint will never do anything about it, this problem may need a free market solution; the insurance companies. People will quit rebuilding when premiums get so high that they can’t afford them. Or when they can’t even get a policy issued, either on private structures or a bond for a public project. It’s the slow, expensive, stupid way to do it. But at some point, it should work.

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