Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Houston (part two)

This is very, very instructive: Boomtown, Flood Town. This story actually came from DQ Music Advisor Chris Hornbostel by way of a gaming forum, and I highly recommend reading it before we continue.

I'll wait.

Like I said yesterday, the flooding could not have been prevented, but it's so much worse than it should have been.

The basic formula.

Houston had, at one time, ample prairie lands. Lands that could absorb an enormous amount of water. What happened in the last 20-30 years, though, was land that could absorb water was steadily replaced with concrete and other surfaces that cannot absorb water.

If water can't go into the ground, it will stay above the ground.

Developed land makes lots of people lots of money. Undeveloped land doesn't. So there is an enormous incentive, all the way from private citizens to zoning commissions to City Councils, to allow rapid land development.

People seem to want development until they get their development, or their house, and then they want it to stop. That doesn't happen, of course, because other people haven't gotten theirs yet.

It's all barely regulated, particularly in Texas, so development goes on and on and on.

Plus, flood control would require the government, and it would be expensive, and if there's two things Texans hate, it's the government and taxes. So while many of them do want flood planning and action taken, no one wants to actually pay the money that's needed for government to function.

So what you have is--pardon the pun--a perfect storm of geography and politics combining to make an enormous city incredibly vulnerable.

What happens on the back end, though, is that now, over half a million people are going to need federal help. It's going to be incredibly expensive. So will that aid happen, or will the victims of this terrible tragedy be blamed in some way that will excuse the government from helping them?

Today, some areas will pass 50" of rain in the last five days. Inconceivable.

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