August 29, 2017

"For years, engineers have warned that Houston was a flood disaster in the making. Why didn't somebody do something?"

Asks the L.A. Times. Excerpt:
The storm was unprecedented, but the city has been deceiving itself for decades about its vulnerability to flooding, said Robert Bea, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and UC Berkeley emeritus civil engineering professor who has studied hurricane risks along the Gulf Coast.

The city’s flood system is supposed to protect the public from a 100-year storm, but Bea calls that “a 100-year lie” because it is based on a rainfall total of 13 inches in 24 hours.

“That has happened more than eight times in the last 27 years,” Bea said. “It is wrong on two counts. It isn’t accurate about the past risk and it doesn’t reflect what will happen in the next 100 years.”

87 comments:

madAsHell said...

Isn't this a corollary to "Never waste a good crisis"?

AJ Lynch said...

Gentleman: Start your Recriminations Engine.

Etienne said...

The really sad part, is no one has any flood insurance. People just won't pay it, because Houston is a flood plain, and the insurance is unaffordable.

It's been said, that deficit spending is nothing more than confiscation of wealth.

In a like regard, building homes in a flood plain, is the oldest scam in the books.

In the end, peoples lives will be ruined. They will never be whole again. All the government can do is give them a loan, so they can rebuild right back in the flood plain.

Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200...

Michael said...

No, I think instead of castigating Texas engineers we should look to our betters for advice; the engineers of Manhattan Island and the New Jersey shore who let a piddling storm disrupt the home of the smartest people on the planet who are ruled by the smartest people on the planet. For years, engineers have warned that NY was a flood disaster in the making. Why didn't somebody do something?

rhhardin said...

So long as the government covers the losses, there's no reason to move. It raises property values.

One of the perverse incentives.

rhhardin said...

Floods are uninsurable events. All the policies go bad at once.

Michael said...

The L.A. Times should do a story on why Los Angeles is unprepared for a major earthquake or a tsunami even after they have been warned again and again. Also, what is the exact evacuation plan for Venice Beach in the event of a tsunami? Is there one? Why not?

rhhardin said...

Normally, if you get a 20 year flood every 20 years, property values fall until it covers the 20 year losses. If you get government to cover the cost, it raises the property values since that loss doesn't have to be figured in.

Etienne said...

If you pave over the swamps and bayou's, and block river flow, bad things will happen.

What people in Houston should be doing right now, is rent a car, drive to Wyoming, and start again.

Houston will be a shit-hole for 25 years. Move on with your life. Cut the ties that bind...

Paddy O said...

Meanwhile, here in the state capital, there was a 10 year building freeze in the northwest corner of the city. Half built buildings were stopped, new housing development plans were halted, new parks went without bathrooms. All because of the fact that corner is a flood zone (as it it flooded most every year with regular rain, let alone a massive amount). Made it perfect for rice fields. Houses don't need as much water on the ground as rice does.

They realized after Katrina the local levees might not be enough. So, they invested in getting those levees stronger, lifted the freeze a couple years ago, just in time to have massive flooding last winter. The water went where the water was supposed to go, and the old rice fields that now had a lot of houses on them stayed perfectly dry. I'm not a big fan of California government in general, but they did right in this case.

Too bad that didn't extend to the Oroville dam.

Quayle said...

"Why didn't somebody do something?"

We did do something.

We elected the guy who told us he was absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when ... the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.

(Can we tell our children now, or should we wait a few more years to compile more convincing data?)



Unknown said...

The same reason nobody ever fully prepares, cost vs likelihood there will be a maximum disaster. Look up Tropical Storm Allison, when there was substantial flooding in Houston (and a woman tragically drowned in an elevator). There are several incidences of storms loitering over Houston and dumping maybe 35" of rain. The city always recovered, so how much worse can it really get? Sadly, we now know. And I love Houston.

Paddy O said...

"why Los Angeles is unprepared for a major earthquake or a tsunami even after they have been warned again and again. Also, what is the exact evacuation plan for Venice Beach in the event of a tsunami? Is there one?"

Is Los Angeles unprepared? It's been a while since a major earthquake, but my sense is that LA is as prepared as it can be. Massive amounts of infrastructure repair has happened (like making overpasses earthquake resistant). The architecture in general is probably second only to Japan in terms of earthquake safety rules.

I'm not sure that LA is tsunami vulnerable. It has a weird coastline, with a lot of south facing beaches and a nice island chain off the coast that would take much of the brunt.

Fritz said...

One of my uncles, long dead, had a job with the weather service predicting the magnitude of 100 year rainfall events. It's trickier than it sounds.

Blame him all you want.

Sebastian said...

"the city has been deceiving itself for decades about its vulnerability" So does everyone, except the few prudent bourgeois savers and taxpayers left. And the "deception" is rational: in the modern welfare state, other people will pay. They will pay for the people in coastal areas who did not protect themselves against hurricanes, for the people of California who made no provision for earthquakes, for the people of Illinois who made unsustainable pension promises to state workers, for the unskilled immigrants who need home healthcare from Medicaid. And so on, and so forth. Government is now a money transfer scheme. It deliberately encourages imprudence, including by boosting home values in disaster zones. Taking costly precautions, saving money, buying insurance, and staying out of food plains and earthquake zones would be irrational.

Until you run out of other people's money.

Michael K said...

" People just won't pay it, because Houston is a flood plain, and the insurance is unaffordable."

And the national insurance fund is broke. They are $14 billion in debt.

Sorry, $23 billion in debt.

MaxedOutMama said...

I looked up some history, and there have been several rainfall Houston area incidents of 20 inches or so in the last century. Because of its location, the Houston area is vulnerable to flooding - it's basically a delta city. It had massive flooding in the 1800s. The two storm catchments (Addicks & Barker) were built in the 1940s to mitigate such rainfall, but of course they are under capacity for such a situation.

The current storm is unusual, because of weather patterns that have corralled it over the area. But this too happens - fortunately rarely, but it does happen. There was a storm that got sent around in GA more than a decade ago (94, Alberto), and an area including Americus got about two feet of rain in a day. People died. This shit does happen.
http://www.thepostsearchlight.com/2014/07/11/20-years-ago-this-month-bainbridge-experienced-a-natural-disaster-that-will-never-be-forgotten/

Now the real trouble begins for Houston, as the infrastructure is overwhelmed, the water systems may be impacted, more utilities are going to fail, and a very large population is not able to move around and get necessities or medical care. It's time to send in the marines, not just the National Guard. Waters will keep rising for several more days, and as food, medicine and water run out, and with some unable to charge cell phones and thus not even able to call for help ... these casualties can be limited, but it's time to get into the neighborhoods.

EDH said...

Whether and to whatever degree climate change is real, it's examples like this that tell me whatever resources are expended to deal with the predicted consequences should be directed a mitigation (e.g., sea walls, drainage) rather than "prevention" of CO2 output through economic strangulation or subsidies.

The former is useful no matter the cause, the latter is an all or nothing bet on unreliable statistics.

Paul said...

""For years, engineers have warned that Houston was a flood disaster in the making. Why didn't somebody do something?""

Cause they keep electing Democrat Mayors with liberal agendas and try to make their cities 'safe zones' for illegals instead of 'safe zones' for their citizens.

MadisonMan said...

So -- to where does the LA Times propose that Houstonians move? To where should all the shipping and gas/oil infrastructure move? And who's going to foot that bill?

Michael K said...

"Also, what is the exact evacuation plan for Venice Beach in the event of a tsunami? "

Private helicopters.

A 700 square foot home in Venice is for sale for $4 million.

Lyle Smith said...

Houston always floods. It has had major flooding the last two years and throughout its history. It drains out well. People get wet, the water goes away, and people deal with it.

Tommy Duncan said...

Welfare and free cell phones buy more votes than levee and canal projects. It's really quite simple.

Ray said...

The article came off as very anti development.

I wonder if settling basins or pumping in water would help the water table, to prevent settling.

On earthquake preparation in LA, a huge amount of work has been done on the freeways. Building retrofits are trickier. The challenge is there are lots of different types of earth quakes. What would devastate another country with poorer building codes, gets shrugged off now in LA. We have come a long way from the 1933 Long Beach Earth quake.
http://www.conservation.ca.gov/cgs/News/Pages/LongBeach.aspx

LA has also done a massive job to protect against flooding. Basically concreted every stream and river, with settling basis.

buwaya said...

All along the coast highways on the China sea side of Luzon you notice posted signs indicating tsunami evacuation routes or refuge locations.
In some places along the roads you can see concrete buildings raised on pilings designated tsunami shelters.
They are taking that threat very seriously.

Michael said...

The flood in Houston is said to be a 1000 year flood. It should be made clear that there can be a 1000 year flood every single year for quite a while and still qualify.

roesch/voltaire said...

People have such short life spans they have trouble seeing far into the future, or past for that matter, until they are up to their necks in water. There has been talk in Houston of looking at the solutions the Netherlands use to control flooding against storm surges from the sea, and I suspect this may take a more concrete form in the future.

Michael said...

Ray
All of that is swell but when was the last time L.A. had 40 inches of rain in three days? The nifty concrete rivers would not stop the hillsides from collapsing. They also could not begin to hold the water. And when the day comes when earthquakes can be predicted with some accuracy what will be the evacuation plans for the masses? And where will they evacuate to?

PaddyO: "as prepared as it can be" is apparently not prepared enough in re Houston 2017

MaxedOutMama said...

Etienne - the pave-over stuff just doesn't wash in this instance. No area will not have life-threatening floods with rainfall of 10 inches in a day - not even the top of a mountain, and with 30 inches or more in a few days - diminished ground absorption capacity hardly comes into play. The ground in most places can only suck up 2-3 inches.

There is no place that won't be massively flooded with rainfall totals such as this occurring over a few days. Zip, nada. It's just a natural disaster, that's all.

Houston's flat terrain now works to its benefit. Although there's a huge amount of water, it is flowing mostly slowly, and it is the rapid flood waters that inflict massive loss of life. It gives them some time. Now they have to get enough resources that can navigate into the worst affected areas to try to limit loss of life - and they have had time to evacuate highly threatened areas. In many areas with steeper terrain, casualties might be in the hundreds by now.

Henry said...

This is a vastly superior article to those that try to work global warming and sea-level rise into the mix.

Katrina was an engineering and land use disaster. So is the Houston Harvey flood. The human ability to make bad political and engineering decisions far exceeds the climate's ability to wreck things on its own.

Never attribute to climate what can be attributed to fecklessness.

Paddy O said...

"A 700 square foot home in Venice is for sale for $4 million."

My great-grandfather was a farmer in Venice in the 20s. Grew celery and artichoke, I think.

I wish he had kept that land and not moved inland.

Michael, isn't the point of the article that Houston wasn't in fact as prepared as it can be? In LA, engineers warn and there's been massive investment in infrastructure. Now, the only solution of course is to get everyone out of LA. I'm all for returning everyone who arrived after 1970 back to their home states, but I don't think anyone wants them!

Everywhere has something. California has actually done a pretty decent job given the population. There's only so much that can be done with natural disasters like earthquakes or volcanoes or tornadoes. They're forces that really are unimaginable. Meanwhile, flooding is more about anticipating where water wants to go and how to get it somewhere that's not as destructive.

ddh said...

Etienne said,

"It's been said, that deficit spending is nothing more than confiscation of wealth."

A simple saying that is too simple-minded to be correct. Deficit spending is borrowing, and it's no more confiscation of wealth than is your mortgage. As long as the debt is repaid, it's not confiscation.

Birkel said...

Can somebody post a map of the United States that shows precisely which parts of the country are never affected by weather and other natural emergencies?

That would be a big help toward realizing just how ridiculous this argument is.

traditionalguy said...

The Buffalo Bayou swings around to meet the San Jacinto River where in April, 1836 a Scots Irish general who had served with Jackso lead 1000 Texan farmers against 800 Mexican soldiers fresh from slaughtering Texan farmers at The Alamo and the Goliad before following Houston's force retreating for 6 weeks.

Suddenly Sam Houston saw an opening and attacked in the late afternoon on April 21, 1836, and in 15 minutes routed the Mexican Army and slaughtered them back while hollering Remember the Alamo and Remember Goliad. trapping the Mexicans by a swamp along the San Jacinto River.Final count 41 Texans killed or wounded, and 858 Mexicans killed or wounded plus 300 captured including Mexican President Santa Anna who gave away Texas recognition for his life.

Houston earned the city there being named for him.

Martin said...

I cannot remember where I saw it, but a few years ago there was an article about how all the estimates of "100-year this" and "500-year that" are based on seriously flawed statistics, and the truth is that such extreme events are MUCH more common. It was about many aspects of reality having much "fatter tails" than the standard normal distribution.

The typical calculation estimates how many standard deviations an event would vary from the mean... the problem is that translating the standard deviations into percentages assumes a certain kurtosis (peakedness) of the distribution, and the default distribution is the "standard normal" one. In that distribution, 3 standard deviations gets you to a probability of only about 1-2% of events being more extreme, and would be translated as a 100-year event." BUT if the tails are fatter, or if more than one event can occur per year, that phrase is just garbage. Not to mention if the underlying causes change, invalidating the history.

The context was the financial crash of 2007-09, which was by some estimates a "billion-year" event, or even more, but in fact things of similar magnitude happen every decade or so, somewhere in the world.

If something is stated as a 100-yr event, unless I have verified the statistics used in that calculation I assume it will come around every 20 years or so, on long-term average.

Henry said...

buwaya wrote: All along the coast highways on the China sea side of Luzon you notice posted signs indicating tsunami evacuation routes or refuge locations.

Communities in Coastal New England generally have evacuation route signs posted. Providence has a huge storm tide barrier, built in 1960 after hurricanes and 1938 and 1954 flooded the city.

If you live south of Providence, you have no barrier. For several generations now, developers have been expanding flat, sandy, Barrington Rhode Island with little regard for the next hurricane. At least the evacuation routes are marked.

Khesanh 0802 said...

@R?V "concrete form? Tried to sneak that pun by, huh?

Freder Frederson said...

Yet you all will be the first to scream "the government is taking my land" of you are told you can't build on flood prone areas or fill in wetlands.

Khesanh 0802 said...

Live on a flood plain there's a good chance you're going to get flooded. Nevertheless, it's a damn tragedy. Most interesting to me are the pictures of the rescued and rescuers - white, black, Hispanic, Asian, quite literally, all in the same boat. Americans helping Americans.

EsoxLucius said...

I don't wish the worst on anyone, but I will admit to a perverse pleasure in seeing the world capitol of climate change denying, petroleum industry subsisting, no city zoning, and urban plan hating drown. Up north, we build impoundment areas, keep the rich from filling in wetlands to erect waterfront McMansions, and otherwise force the city vertical. Down south, they don't believe in government until they need baling out. The population of New Orleans dropped fifteen percent after Katrina, and I suspect that of Houston will do the same after Harvey.

Hagar said...

The Rio Grande channel through Albuquerque is good for about 10,000 cfs.
In the 1960's the Corps of Engineers constructed the North Diversion Channel to take the storm flows from the NE Heights northward and discharge north of the city. The CoE designed this channel fo a maximum capacity of 44,000 cfs.
For their next act, the Corps was going to clear the Rio Grande channel through the city to handle this plus the existing flow in the river.
But by this time the Cultural Revolution had struck, and the Bosque had become sacred ground for nature walks, etc., not to mention engdangered species like the Rio Gande minnow and the muskrats.
So the Corps officials and all the other agencies having to do with flood control in Albuquerque go to bed every night and pray that no major storm will hit in the Heghts while they are still in office.

JAORE said...

I'm all for returning everyone who arrived after 1970 back to their home states,

Is Mexico a state? Guatemala?

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

I'll remind the LA Times after the next big earthquake just where and how damage might have been prevented by careful planning and implementation.

Paddy O said...

"after 1970 back to their home states,"

Mexico might be considered a state, but I was emphasizing other US states. That's the problem with California, we took everyone else's liberals in the last decades of the 20th century.

Khesanh 0802 said...

@EsoxLucius You're kidding, right? Ever been to Cape Cod; Martha's Vineyard? Up north we have very few wetlands left thanks to the filling done by our ancestors: the Back Bay?; Charles River Basin?; Logan Airport?; Cape Cod Canal? Toledo Marshes? Cheyenne Bottoms in KS? The Central Valley of CA? Anywhere in SW MN? The list goes on and on.

MadisonMan said...

I don't wish the worst on anyone, but

Riiight.

MountainJohn said...

"It's been said, that deficit spending is nothing more than confiscation of wealth."

A simple saying that is too simple-minded to be correct. Deficit spending is borrowing, and it's no more confiscation of wealth than is your mortgage. As long as the debt is repaid, it's not confiscation.


It is if you are the one repaying something you didn't borrow, i.e., future taxpayers settling debts the proceeds of which went to their grandparents' generation.

Ray said...

That won't be an issue, because with all the zoning, fees, reports and other costs required for new development, not much happens in LA, much less California. An example is all new homes require fire sprinklers now in California. And some wonder why there is a lack of affordable housing...

A bigger issue is water usage/availability/storage. California has expanded the population, and not done next to nothing in expanding water storage, and let out water due to court orders that has devastated agriculture in the central valley. The issue with the Oroville Dam surprised me, just another symptom of the dysfunction of governance in CA.

The LA Times is very Left, and it's coverage and editorials reflect that.

>I'll remind the LA Times after the next big earthquake just where and how damage
> might have been prevented by careful planning and implementation.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

If looking at a 500-year event and 100 cities over 200,000 population, then one city is going to suffer an event about every 5 years. If looking at all 19,000 cities and towns in the U.S you'd expect to have 38 500-year events per year.

lezlies said...

Etienne said "The really sad part, is no one has any flood insurance."

To get a mortgage for a Houston home in the flood plain you MUST buy flood insurance and maintain it until you pay off your mortgage.

I know lots of people who do not live in the flood plain who buy insurance. It is not unaffordable (or, at least not yet!). I knew nothing about flood insurance until I was about to close on my house and I had to pay up for the insurance. Less than a year later Tropical Storm Allison dumped 18" of water in the house. Best investment ever.


Florence said...

buwaya wrote: All along the coast highways on the China sea side of Luzon you notice posted signs indicating tsunami evacuation routes or refuge locations.

Yeah, Texas has those too. I think all of the major Interstates along the coasts have them. https://farm9.static.flickr.com/8365/8501337385_07edb5f006_b.jpg

The Texas Tribune did a big article last year after the 2016 flooding regarding the risk of this unprecedented flooding. It's interesting, educating, and disheartening all at the same time (if you can read past the climate change promo). I imagine a lot of the LA Times article research was sourced from this one.

https://www.texastribune.org/boomtown-floodtown/

"Houston has been trying to solve its flooding woes since at least 1937, when a letter penned by local officials to state lawmakers pleaded for help and declared Texas’ largest city “at the mercy of the relentless water.” After nearly eight decades of massive engineering projects, incredible technological advances and a flurry of regulations for flood control, that letter still rings true. But now millions of lives and billions of dollars are at stake."

I'm not sure what the going-forward solution is short of forcing relocation of lots of people, which isn't really a solution. And in any event, from where exactly does the money come from for any proposed solution? How much is too little or too much? Tough situation that isn't exactly black and white.

Unknown said...

Short cuts are made over the years to save money, enabled by the relaxing of concerns that occur as time passes since the last catastrophe. Same thing happened in New Orleans.

A huge and devastating hurricane hit NO in the late 60's. This was followed by great public activity with intense and urgent engineering and planning, including the Army Corp of Engineers. Levees and diversions and whatnot would be built to make sure this never happens again. But it takes so long to secure the funding, and execute the building plan that political will dissipates, and is exacerbated by the turnover of political actors responsible for voting to continue funding the project. The farther the community gets from the most recent event the easier it is to prioritize other public works.

-SW

Michael McNeil said...

Of course Los Angeles and its general area is vulnerable to tsunamis! The offshore islands provide a far from sufficient barrier (only Santa Barbara might benefit somewhat from such “protection” from its Santa Barbara Channel islands — whereas Los Angeles's San Pedro Channel is far too open for there to be much benefit) — while actually a significant proportion of the tsunami risk for LA and its environs originates at (the geology under) the islands! See for instance this piece: “New maps reveal tsunami risk for Los Angeles.”

Oso Negro said...

Lots of hysteria among the posters today. The last number I saw was 30,000 residents displaced from their homes. In a metro area of 6,000,000 people that isn't too bad. When Los Angeles has the Big One, let's see how they do.

Paddy O said...

Michael, "of course"?

We're vulnerable to meteors falling too. But there's vulnerable and there's statistically important enough for regular preparation.

From what I could tell, SoCal has the possibility of tsunamis, but not really a history of them. Those it has had haven't been anything near severe.

There are very, very few SoCal sites listed in that chart, and, oddly enough, the more common one among those is Catalina Island. Northern coastal California is significantly more at risk, but they do I believe have tsunami risk plans in place (or at least a lot of signage).

Tyrone Slothrop said...

This is an observation that bears on the AGW hoax controversy. In the face of natural prodigies of any kind, people universally say, "This has never happened before!!!!!" despite that it has happened before, many, many times. That you weren't there to see it doesn't mean it didn't happen.

rightguy said...

The flood following Hurricane Harvey could be to Houston what the hurricane of 1900 was to Galveston : the end of the glory days. After this overwhelming, shocking, and massive disaster, its hard to imagine people and companies lining up to relocate there. I wouldn't be surprised to see an exodus of people who choose to relocate, rather than rebuild. Go long on Dallas.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Michael said...
The L.A. Times should do a story on why Los Angeles is unprepared for a major earthquake or a tsunami even after they have been warned again and again. Also, what is the exact evacuation plan for Venice Beach in the event of a tsunami? Is there one? Why not?


Throughout the length of the west coast, in big cities and villages alike, one sees warning signs that you are in a tsunami zone and they indicate evacuation routes. Huge sirens announce emergencies. Washington and Oregon have done more in this regard than California, because the Cascadia subduction zone lies a couple of hundred miles offshore. California faults are strike-slip, not given to generating tsunamis. Certainly, Venice Beach is not immune to tsunamis, but if it came it would have come from far, far away and there would be plenty of warning.

Etienne said...

MountainJohn said..."It's been said, that deficit spending is nothing more than confiscation of wealth." A simple saying that is too simple-minded to be correct.

It is a quote from Alan Greenspan. At the time he made it, he was arguing against leaving the gold standard.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"I don't wish the worst on anyone, but I will admit to a perverse pleasure in seeing the world capitol of climate change denying, petroleum industry subsisting, no city zoning, and urban plan hating drown."

Another leftist cheering on the deaths of people because they live in a red state.

Even though many of the dead will probably be poor and black and Houston has a Democrat mayor.

I've given for Harvey relief. When a natural disaster hits a blue state, I'll remember how much compassion the liberal shits here showed to Harvey victims and I'll hold off on the donation. You're all much wiser and richer and better, right? Take care of yourselves then.

hombre said...

Did the LA Times ever ask the Democrats why California still has crippling droughts?

I thought not.

Michael said...

Tyrone Slothrop
Well, there you have it. Signs. Houston has evacuation signs,btw.

GRW3 said...

It's a can do city, my hometown. It will be on it's feet sooner, rather than later. Media probably has hopes pinned on Harvey getting to New Orleans.

Achilles said...

Is there a city anywhere that wouldn't have flooding if there are 49 inches of water dumped on it in a short period? That is basically a large lake 4 feet deep dumped on a city.

There is going to be flooding.

JML said...

But Hagar, there is a nice bike trail along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque. that makes up for it.

BTW, if there is a major fire in the Sandia Mts., it has the potential for huge losses - you can't thin the forests - people get sad when forests are thinned. They get livid or crispy when a fire burns everything in its path, but that is a different story.

Jim at said...

"The L.A. Times should do a story on why Los Angeles is unprepared for a major earthquake or a tsunami even after they have been warned again and again."

Quoted for truth.

Michael K said...

"his was followed by great public activity with intense and urgent engineering and planning, including the Army Corp of Engineers."

That "urgent engineering" included building MRGO which provided a superhighway for hurricanes and storm surges right into central NO.

The Army Engineers were almost as much a problem as the usual level of corruption in Louisiana.

Jim at said...

"Yet you all will be the first to scream "the government is taking my land" of you are told you can't build on flood prone areas or fill in wetlands." - Freder

Not if it's paid for by those doing the taking.

It's the blatant government land grabs - with no compensation - that we're opposed to.

But you deliberately miss that point, don't you.

Michael K said...

"In LA, engineers warn and there's been massive investment in infrastructure. "

I'm not sure where that massive investment is. The freeways are a nightmare.

The drought was man made because of no infrastructure on the water system in 40 years.

They could even have built desalination plants using Israeli technology but didn't.

The light rail has been OK but the taxi lobby kept it from serving LAX.

Rusty said...

"In LA, engineers warn and there's been massive investment in infrastructure. "

Obviously you've never driven the 405

Jim at said...

I must admit, I get a kick out of arrogant leftists - who don't want to wish the worst on anyone, of course - getting their glee on because Texas is being hit by a natural disaster.

Of course, it never occurs to them Houston ain't exactly known as the conservative haven they wish it was.

Freder Frederson said...

That "urgent engineering" included building MRGO which provided a superhighway for hurricanes and storm surges right into central NO.

You are wrong so often, I can't tell if you are deliberately lying or just think you know more than you do.

MRGO was completed in 1965. It was first proposed in 1943. Betsy was also in 1965, so MRGO had nothing to do with flood protection.

Michael K said...

"so MRGO had nothing to do with flood protection."

I didn't say it was flood protection, you idiot.

It was a very very bad idea to replace the delta and the wetlands and swamps with a dredged channel right in to the city.

Freder Frederson said...

I didn't say it was flood protection, you idiot.

Actually you did. You said it was part of the urgent planning after Betsy. Which it wasn't.

Paddy O said...

"Obviously you've never driven the 405"

I've made it my lifestyle to try to avoid driving the 10 and the 405 as much as possible.

Carmaggedon!

Paddy O said...

"I'm not sure where that massive investment is"

In the growth areas, the 210 was extended to San Bernardino, light rail is extending, freeway overpasses are retrofitted. LA is just a really big area. Lots and lots of work in Orange County and western San Bernardino county, and the rest, which isn't strictly LA, but it's part of the contiguous experience.

There's too many people for too little freeway, but there's definitely been significant investment requiring continuous construction.

For water, there's the Inland Feeder Project that I know about.

Michael K said...

"Lots and lots of work in Orange County "

Orange County passed a bond issue 20 years ago and a half cent sales tax to pay it off. The improved I 5 ended at the LA County line ten years ago and only in the past ten years has LA County done anything. I don't know if it is finished yet as I stopped teaching in downtown LA two years ago.

Michael K said...

Paddy O have you driven the 91 recently ? In the past ten years, say?

25 years ago I wanted a tunnel under the Santiago Peak mountains to Riverside. It got nowhere from NIMBYs.

Michael K said...

Here is a pretty good article from Politico about the flood control problems in Louisiana.

Ignore the nonsense about global warming and it is a pretty good discussion. It doesn't mention MRGO but it hints at the trouble the loss of wetlands created.

n.n said...

New Orleans, New York City, Berkeley, and now Houston. Democrats seem ill-prepared to manage anthropogenic and natural events.

Narayanan Subramanian said...

Please understand ... Democrats want to manage all without leaving Washington DC.

Hagar said...

The US Army Corps of Engineers build what they are told to build whether it is draining the Okefenokee or filling it back up again.

Hagar said...

But Hagar, there is a nice bike trail along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque. that makes up for it.

I think some of this and other "environmental" projects have at least a secondary objective of unobtrusively clearing a path to provide at least some additional floodway capacity without calling down on themselves the wrath of the enlightened citizens of Corrales and Los Ranchos.

Ray said...

https://mrgomustgo.org/

Seems it had been closed and restoration started.

Martin said...


""For years, engineers have warned that Houston was a flood disaster in the making. Why didn't somebody do something?""

Wrong question. The right question is, "Did they do a benefit-cost analysis of storm flooding, and if so, what did it say and what did they do with it?

Given Houston's topography and geology, and the (literally, in the continental US) unprecedented amount of rain, it is not a given that there was a cost-effective alternative to just taking the hit and fixing things afterwards. All us armchair quarterbacks can sit and pontificate, but this is very complicated stuff and I doubt if anybody outside of hydrologic engineers familiar with Houston in great detail, have anything worthwhile to say about it.

HT said...

Is there a city anywhere that wouldn't have flooding if there are 49 inches of water dumped on it in a short period?

I think downtown Houston did comparatively well.