It ain’t no shark and it ain’t no warming neither
Houston’s flood this week is due to hubris and bad planning rather than global warming. But hey would we not have to blame someone if it was planning?
Houston for those of us who have never passed through it, is one of those enormous post second war urban sprawls that ooze out across the West. It was never the cowboys, John Wayne or General Custer that tamed this land, more like General Electric, General Motors and Westinghouse. The air conditioner, personal cars and the refrigerator opened the land around Houston to become the huge 627.5 square mile of monster city it is today.
And it’s the way you build them that causes much of the problem.
Houston is low lying and near the coast. And in what might possibly be a clue, much of what has been built on, was swamp. So it always was prone to flooding. This is not something new. And then we need to factor in that much of the rest of the unchecked unregulated development was on prairie. Now prairie is an interesting eco-system being grass with very deep roots that go far underground. It is permeable to a fault. The grass itself grows high and so when water hits prairie there is plenty of places for it all to go, sucked up into the grass above ground or sequestered down in the roots. What the City fathers in their planning regulations, and the developers only out for a quite sale, have done is turn a sponge into a bathtub.
So, the developers paved over all that prairie with housing, roads, car parks, concrete, concrete, concrete etc, and hey they only discovered afterwards that the water had to go somewhere. Surprising absolutely no one in particular, it ends up in areas that had not flooded previously. Because, well it had nowhere else to go.
And its all downhill to downtown
Next despite what might pass for common sense, the developers filled up the existing flood plains with more buildings. Even as far back as 1980 there were concerns about building on floodplains and next to bayous. But noone did anything. Hey it was Boomtime what could possibly go wrong? And naturally these developers did not have to put their hands in their corporate pockets to ensure that as they developed the housing they upgraded the infrastructure to allow cast water to be taken away. And no one seems to have asked them to do that….