Your Local Yokels are staring in disbelief at our televisions again this morning, for what seems like infinite mornings at this point. Every once in awhile some dolt’s irresponsible shrieking about “Rain Tax” worms it’s way into our consciousness and turns into a rage supernova. Just as it did a moment ago, when CNN showed an arial view from the 1950’s of the Addicks Reservoir west of Houston. This is a picture of the dry reservoir that normally serves as a park, with vast farmland property to the northwest of that. Then they showed a photo of today, where hundereds of thousands of closely packed homes and the network of roads and driveways and patios create an impermeable surface nightmare that overwhelms the flood control system. This is clearly a catastrophe of historic proportions, but the situation is not helped by the lack of policy and regulation, and conditions that coddle developers over residents. Things that Houston and Texas both are famous for. This is what happens when you have irresponsible, unchecked development and ignorance of the mitigating solutions. For now, the solution is to produce controlled flooding of properties downstream (including the downtown area) in the hopes that the levees there and at a second reservoir under similar strain do not catastrophically fail all at once, and create a much more destructive and dangerous condition.
This situation is not nearly over. In our region we typically deal with inconvenient storms that you can plow and shovel and move and sometimes relocate and dump and melt. Here we see a virtually flat city inundated, and people have been lost to both rising and rushing waters that are far more difficult to control. Due to our landscape, flood waters can also come at us rushing downhill. The fact that anyone around here ever behaved as though this is a strain on developers ignores the strain on life and property for potential victims. Let this be an ongoing lesson to those who may want to turn on the television and reexamine their priorities. The average annual rainfall in most of Maryland is only a few inches different from the norm for the Texas Gulf Coast.
In the meantime, do what you can to help Texas and now Louisiana, as Harvey continues to hammer them.