Unprecedented

August 29, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: Harvey Hell

Words fail to describe the disaster unfolding before us so I’ll try a picture from the Texas Department of Transportation.

The dark blue symbols with the slash through it are road closures; the light blue circles are flooding.  To give non-Texans a sense of scale, the east-west distance of this map is over 300 miles.  So far, thousands of homes have been inundated.  Tens of thousands of people are out of their homes.  The ENTIRE Texas National Guard has been activated with over 12,000 personnel mobilized.  The US Coast Guard has brought HALF of its US helicopter fleet to the Houston metro area.  The shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center is now near capacity with 5,000 people who’ve lost their homes, and shelters all over the area are running full.  Gasoline shortages are just right around the corner since most of the refineries here are shut down; both of the metro areas major airports are still shut down.

The only word that begins to capture this disaster is unprecedented. Unfortunately, one word that can’t be used is unexpected.  This is what happens when you pave over hundreds of square miles of land that was once prairie.  This is what happens when you build homes on top of watershed and up against major rivers and bayous.  This is the expected result of unbridled development without appropriate oversight for infrastructure.  We’re finally reaping the result of what we have sown for years, and if we’re honest, there is major work to be done beyond simply repair these thousands of homes and buildings.

We’ll see if our elected officials will follow through after the television lights turn off.

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20 Comments to “Unprecedented”


  1. Linda Phipps says:

    Thank you for your insight considering the overbuilding and the impact of flood damage. I sit here in Northern Virginia and often think (not in the context to drainage though) about the fact that it is just about paved over. And it’s ugly.

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  2. Charles R Phillips says:

    I wouldn’t bet against the stupidity of the zoning boards, planners, county commissioners and others with finger in the pie.

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  3. From Newsweek via Raw Story http://www.rawstory.com/2017/08/houston-is-drowning-in-its-freedom-from-regulations/

    I daresay many many more cities than Houston have similar problems. It’s just that most aren’t coastal and have large bodies of water to continually feed a storm.

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  4. RepubAnon says:

    Does Texas even have zoning laws? One thing about letting government pass regulations about where things can -or cannot- be built, it does help in these types of situations.

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  5. Good points, Jefe, and very well made.
    Recall the right wing religious nuts who claimed that 911, and later on Katrina, were the punishment of God against an America that had become profane? Have any of those loons said something similar about Harvey? I think there may be some aspect of godly punishment involved, but it is punishment against Texas voters who consistently elect Republican hacks, liars, dumb-asses, hypocrites and thieves to public office at all levels. They have not provided any leadership to deal with the issues you make. The last time anyone tried to do something about Coastal Zone Management was Bob Armstrong, in the 70’s, and his efforts were squashed by Republicans.

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  6. Recalling that Bourdain found Houston ethnically diverse, one suspects Republicans might lose interest in rebuilding after the television camera lights go off.

    http://www.cnn.com/travel/article/bourdain-parts-unknown-houston-essay/index.html

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  7. I live in Hamilton TX – a five hour drive from Downtown Houston and we are high and drive. State Highway 36 which is a major trucking route across Texas comes through Hamilton. You cannot believe how quiet it is. There aren’t any trucks on the road. No oil field pipe. No produce. No tankers. Nothing headed east to the Port of Houston and nothing headed northwest to the rest of Texas from Houston. When the trucks stop moving, the economy stops. This is really bad for everybody.

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  8. Margaret Rose says:

    We’re with you. I just got back into my home after the LA Flood of ’16. Now I’m helping gather supplies for Houston. Talk about deja’ vue.

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  9. Bob Boland says:

    Charles R. Phillips – It’s more having a hand in the cookie jar than a finger in the pie.

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  10. @Linda Phipps! Howdy from Centreville! Moved here in 1991 and been through several widenings of 66 and the beltway and now the HOT lanes. While Metro crumbles. Sad!

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  11. Aggieland Liz says:

    Politicians will be happy to do something if it won’t cost tax money or piss off their donors (home builders n developers), especially if there is something in it for them! They’ve been arguing about upgrades to White Oak and Brays and Sims Bayous as long as I can remember.

    What’s going to happen when we have a lovely breakout of typhoid &/or cholera &/or dysentery? That water is fouled with god knows what! And snakes, and gators, and snapping turtles etc. Tetanus…AND-

    We already have a shortage of contracting labor since we have run off all the immigrants who were pleased to work 12 hr days in shocking heat and humidity for moderate wages. I know people who still have tarps on their roofs from hailstorms of 2 years ago and some who never completed repairs after Ike-the jobs were too small, there was more money to be made elsewhere, no one could schedule it.

    All these people with no houses also now have no cars to get to work in, and may not have jobs to go to anyway. If water gets in the dashboard it’s a total loss. No comprehensive insurance? Oh well. Metro is not equipped to move the entire populace.

    There’s not enough mental health professionals to help people through this. There will be suicides and murders and murder-suicides too, mark my words. There may not be enough prayers!

    We are going to need new words, y’all. Catastrophic disaster isn’t going to cover it. And my sister in Emergency Management at a local federal campus tells me NHC is watching the Bay of Campeche again.

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  12. Tal Greywolf says:

    Ok, speaking from the southeastern part of Houston (near Clear Lake, Webster and that area), I can say that this has been a mess from the start. Granted, this has been a disaster well past Biblical proportions, but to hear the politicians who are well clear of the area mouthing their noise… well, I’d love to leave a few of them (all Republicans, mind you) in the middle of a raging bayou. Ah well, at least I’m quite safe, with cable, Internet and phone services still working fine.

    This is, btw, #22 in a continuing series of hurricanes I’ve had to deal with in my lifetime. Not even Katrina was quite this bad.

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  13. Don’t need no stink’n Govment telling Me where to build. Don’t need no stink’n govment telling ME not to pave over da land. Don’t need to pay dem taxes supporting a buncha dead beats in govment.
    Been a four days of frog drowning rain, da creek done come up thru da house and da stink’n govment ain’t don’t nut’in for ME.

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  14. My family and I lived through Agnes when she came up north, smacked us a damn good one, went on a little further to PA, and then damn it all came right back at us. Our little old house didn’t suffer much at all. About 100 feet away was a miniature wetland stuffed with creatures like pheasants etc. and that really helped. Just down a cross street was a really sizable wetland that took everything that was thrown at it. Just recently a new road was built through land that had once been a Federal Reservation. Thank the lord they did not level everything out for paving. They built bridges over ravines which they deliberately did not fill. Those things are natural born swales. Gotta go now. Its starting to rain here.

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  15. Hang in there Houston. We can have this debate later.

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  16. I have to apologize. Late last week I said that Houston was used to floods. I did not know what the hell I was talking about.

    Republicans are about Freedom To: build whatever you want wherever you want, pave over wetlands if it’ll make a buck, carry loaded guns every damn where, run their cattle on federal land and not pay a penny of the grazing fee, and generally say to the government and the world in general Screw You Jack, I Got Mine. (Except when it comes to sex– then your business is their business and it’s Freedom To tell everybody what not to do with their naughty bits.)

    Democrats are about Freedom From: mostly freedom from jackasses blindly exercising their Freedom To.

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  17. What are the arrangements for sewage in the area? Piped away to treatment, or in drainfields and septic tanks?

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  18. Sandridge says:

    Mooser says:
    August 29, 2017 at 11:53 am
    What are the arrangements for sewage in the area? Piped away to treatment, or in drainfields and septic tanks?

    Hardly matters in these conditions. It all ends up floating around in all that surface water you see on the TV…Yeah, that water is super filthy, and people have to walk in it.

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  19. I have been stunningly fortunate in that my house here, in the shadow of downtown Houston, is completely dry. This is the 6th time in three years I have had water lapping at my doorstep, though.

    We’re getting 100 year(+) floods at least two times a year now. Not sure how some parts of town are even considered habitable at that rate, never mind the fact that they’re going to be uninsurable at some point…

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