Eric Berger summed it up pretty well
Fri Sep 1, 2017 10:38am

Eric Berger just published an account of what he went through in Houston during Harvey. It's a good read. I completely agree with his conclusion.
This is probably the worst US flood storm ever, and I’ll never be the same
Neither will the fourth largest city in the country, Houston.

HOUSTON—Lightning crashed all around as I dashed into the dark night. The parking lot outside my apartment building had become swollen with rains, a torrent about a foot deep rushing toward lower ground God knows where. Amazingly, the garage door rose when I punched the button on the opener. Inside I found what I expected to find—mayhem.


What comes next

When the rains are still falling, it can be difficult to remove oneself too far from the immediate threat and grasp the long-term consequences. During the storm itself, it has been heartening to see an incredibly diverse city come together. At one point, overwhelmed county officials issued a call for people with boats to help search and rescue efforts. Their phone lines were overloaded with calls. From swamp boats to kayaks, Houstonians responded. At a time when the country is sharply divided, Houston stands clearly united.

What concerns me is that, in the coming weeks, state and federal leaders will frame Harvey as an unforeseeable, unprecedented disaster. An act of God. As a forecaster, I can say that this wasn't unforeseeable. But certainly it exceeded most predictions for even worst-case rainfall totals.


If Houston is to remain the prosperous, vibrant, great city that it was before Harvey, we are going to have to take a hard look at our unfettered development and willingness to let almost anyone build almost anywhere, including in floodplains. Our state officials are going to have to recognize that these events will be possible again, especially in a warmer world. I'm not holding my breath for all that to happen. And as dark as these last five days have been, that may be the biggest tragedy of all.

Eric Berger is the senior space editor at Ars Technica, covering everything from astronomy to private space to wonky NASA policy. A certified meteorologist, Eric lives in Houston.

You can't "let almost anyone build almost anywhere" without consequences.

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      • Yes...we should do absolutely nothing.HeavyHemi, Fri Sep 1 6:28pm
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        • This gets back to the question I have been asking. Not just what not to do. What to ACTUALLY do? And a plan must be ACTUALLY applicable in the real world. Simply pricing people out of homes isn't... more
    • Eric Berger summed it up pretty well — Jeeves, Fri Sep 1 10:38am
      • for a WORST CASE, he said about 25 inches... of course we got DOUBLE THAT... Yet it is remarkable how hindsight is 20/20... at least for this forecaster... Ours humbly admitted that foresight wasn't... more
      • One way Trump intervenedPikes, Fri Sep 1 1:23pm
        An Obama executive order Trump recently repealed required government notification of property owners who chose to rebuild on determined flood plain or flood drainage lands, that they did so at their... more
        • They gov't can alwasy be asked...Sprout, Fri Sep 1 6:27pm
          Lots of folks ASK FEMA and the federal gov't for all sorts of crap.... The proper answer I such cases is a simple and polite, "no." No reason to take extra effort to notify them. When they get denied ... more
          • This is differentPikes, Fri Sep 1 7:14pm
            It requires people with lost property in a flood zone to be notified that for future reference, as per future needs, FEMA and other Federal assistance cannot be expected if they rebuild there.
    • Applied to CongressPikes, Fri Sep 1 10:22am
      Congressional spending could follow a similar model. Any bill submitted must include a plan for payment that does not add to the debt. No more unfunded mandates. If a bill doesn't have such a plan,... more