August 2017 ended with one of the worst disasters the state of Texas has ever witnessed. Hurricane “Harvey” set a record of rainfall in continental U.S., inundated more than hundreds of thousands of homes, poured at least 30,000 people into shelters, and has so far caused more than 30 deaths. Meteorologists failed to predict the right scope for Harvey. Nobody imagined it will cause that much damage.
Despite all the sadness, what was remarkable to witness during these tough times was the positive attitude with which Texans faced such a catastrophe. People were invited more than ever before to reflect on what really matters in life. Lavish houses and fancy cars flooded under the rain but they seemed so secondary to the lives of beloved ones. There was a clear sense that the core of human values is still present within Houston and its surroundings. I haven’t seen the same generosity and attitude in coping with tough times anywhere else in the world. This reminds me of why I chose the U.S. as a place to live.
There is no doubt the impact of Harvey would’ve made any city in the world suffer. But Houston, in particular, always seems very vulnerable to flooding. Now that the storm is over, a question everybody wants to ask is: why does Houston flood so easily?
I believe the gist of the answer lies in these three key points:
- Houston is “flat”: water has nowhere to escape.
- Too much concrete: water cannot be absorbed neither.
- No “zoning” regulations: making the concrete problem even worse.
What’s disappointing is the city seems to have no plan for the future to deal with this issue. Worse than that, several politicians refuse to acknowledge points 2 and 3 as being behind the flooding issue. Many people lost their homes and are now going through repairs and renovations to fix whatever can be fixed before they get back to work. It’s hard to expect from these same people to complain anytime soon about the city’s lack of preparedness and vulnerability to flooding.