Author Topic: Houston is a hot mess this morning  (Read 5909 times)

Financial.Velociraptor

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Houston is a hot mess this morning
« on: August 27, 2017, 08:00:55 AM »
It's not as bad as Allison (by a long shot) but things are getting messy.

My subdivision is starting to flood on the creek side.  We opened up the clubhouse this morning for refugees.  The traffic map is reporting high water on the roads all over town.  My trusty rain gauge has registered 10.3 inches so far and the storm track is now heading more directly this way with rain expected through at least Thursday.  I have a decorative vent on my house that apparently had wind and water blown into it.  Have some minor damage to ceiling drywall. 

Stay dry Houston mustachians.
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brooklynmoney

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2017, 09:51:33 AM »
Stay safe, from a NYer who saw the havoc flooding can cause/

Miss Piggy

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2017, 09:55:22 AM »
The rest of the country is thinking about all of you in that area. Stay safe and as dry as possible.

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2017, 09:56:09 AM »
I've seen projections for another 2 feet of rain in the next couple of days.  Do you have high(er) ground to get to if needed?

Stay safe.  Turn off the electric before the water gets in the house.  Don't drive or wade through floodwater.  Best of luck.
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Financial.Velociraptor

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2017, 04:05:20 PM »
14.6 inches in my area so far.  19 more inches projected.  Two main airports both just closed.  Storm track per NHC now includes going back offshore to potentially gain strength.

We got clubhouse refugees to relocate to a proper Red Cross shelter (the closest one that was safely accessible without driving through high water) about an hour north of town. 

I'm on high end of subdivision.  If I get water, its ark building time.  But I'm monitoring the road out just in case I need to go an hour north to that shelter too.  Have full tank of gas, filled up Wednesday before the stations started running out.

I have minor roof and drywall damage.  A kiddie pool is now located in the attic to collect the slow drip.  I have buckets to bail pool if it gets more than a couple inches.
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Poundwise

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2017, 07:53:25 AM »
Good luck! Hoping that the slow progress of the storm is giving everyone time to prepare and that  the water doesn't cause you any more damage! 

The equipment in the basement and first floor of my husband's work facilities were destroyed by flooding during Sandy and it took years to get full functionality back...hopefully TX is better prepared than NY was.

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2017, 08:10:41 AM »
Hope you are doing well. Stay safe.

I worked a lot in Houston in college, and I'm just thinking of all the people I know who are likely affected by this. Many of the kids I taught lived in generational poverty, this will be a huge toll on them.
A former roommate (who lives outside Houston on a ranch) lost her barn and home.  They evacuated the horses ahead of time, as the barn has flooded before, but she and her husband had to be rescued by a neighbor in a boat with about a foot of water in the house, which hasn't happened before. It's going to be a ton to recover, but at least she has family to go to.

The property damage in Houston is going to be absolutely insane, but the death toll is, thank god, phenomenally low. I hope it stays that way.  (After seeing the Rita evacuation mess, I think an evacuation would have resulted in people drowning in their cars.)

We had horrific floods here almost a decade ago and some areas still haven't recovered. It will be a long hard haul for Houston. I especially feel so bad for those who relocated after Katrina. It must be a nightmare to relieve this.

Noodle

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2017, 03:08:38 PM »
I suspect the death total will go up somewhat as the waters recede and a complete understanding is reached, but yes, the death rate is very low considering the size of the catastrophe. Some people are criticizing the mayor for not calling for an evacuation, but I cannot imagine the casualties that would have resulted if people had been caught in this weather in their cars...especially since roads were already clogged with thousands of people who had to be evacuated from the Texas coast. Over a hundred people died in the Rita evacuation, and that was in hot, sunny weather.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2017, 03:19:53 PM »
Quote
The rest of the country is thinking about all of you in that area.

And folks in other countries too!

I honestly considered not applying for a spot in a housing project today, in case a broke person from Texas needs it.

Here's hoping the rescue stage continues to go well. I've been pursuing lots of news coverage on it, and have cried several times over what folks are going through. ... and posted that thank goodness some people have private boats, so they can help with the rescue work!!!

jmecklenborg

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2017, 03:33:15 PM »
NPR spent an hour this morning talking about changes to federal law in 1968 that created federal flood insurance and triggered the massive development of Florida and all of the other coastal areas that are vulnerable to hurricanes.  I knew about it already, but unfortunately this is all news to all of the libertarians out there who enjoy massive federal subsidies for their vacation homes -- both the federal flood insurance and the mortgage deduction.  The benefits on a vacation home often exceed the cost of housing a family in their primary residence in a city that doesn't get hit by these damn hurricanes. 

Meanwhile, the same laws did not apply to inland areas like the industrial Midwest, where it is impossible to build on a flood plain, and in fact many homes were bought and demolished by the government in the 20th century.   That's why the periodic flooding of the Tennessee, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers and their tributaries do not cause widespread humanitarian crisis.  Cities like Louisville and Cincinnati were the site of massive flooding disasters in the early 1900s but flood controls + the banning of flood plain construction has eliminated those problems. 

Yet we have laws in place that keep encouraging people to move away from the relatively disaster-proof Midwest to the intensely disaster-prone Atlantic and Gulf coasts.  Plus we have upwards of 10 million people living out in the middle of the desert.  All of this at the expense of the once-great industrial Midwest.  St. Louis, Cleveland, etc. have been hollowed-out to the advantage of disaster-prone Texas and Florida. 

cerat0n1a

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2017, 02:57:43 AM »
I thought this was an excellent explanation of the flooding in Houston (and why an evacuation would have probably been a bad idea.)

https://twitter.com/CorbettMatt/status/901959336850804737 (need to read all the comments)

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2017, 07:53:42 AM »
That was indeed excellent, cera0n1a, thanks very much for that.

Travis

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2017, 11:10:17 AM »
I thought this was an excellent explanation of the flooding in Houston (and why an evacuation would have probably been a bad idea.)

https://twitter.com/CorbettMatt/status/901959336850804737 (need to read all the comments)

I had no idea (population, size, geology, logistics). That was worth reading.
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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2017, 12:43:18 PM »
A friend of mine lives just south of Houston and his street is entirely flooded but at least for now the houses are all OK.  None of them have basements luckily, and they have power/food/internet.

His brother on the other hand just bought a brand new house, which is now underwater in both ways (sorry) with no flood insurance, and worst of all, his wife just went into early labor in the midst of it all and the hospital they went to has the first floor entirely flooded.  One of their cars is also ruined.  So, not a great time to be them.

Hopefully there are more stories like my friend's, and fewer like his brother's.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2017, 01:09:26 PM »
Our bayou was within 1.25 feet of being out of bank over the early morning hours, but it stayed steady and now the rains have lightened up enough that it's receded and no more flood danger. I can't tell you how happy I was to see the gauge numbers. I feel so lucky and also guilty that we survived without any major damage (that we know of anyway).

Two friends so far lost everything - one house was flooded to the roofline. One had flood insurance, one didn't (not even near a flood zone - but this was touted as a 1000 year flood situation). She's hoping FEMA might help, because they can't afford to rebuild otherwise. Small kids too - just thankful they all made it out and everyone is safe at a shelter.

Some looter piece of shit went around the area stealing tires/rims off of trucks parked in driveways one neighborhood over from mine - left them sitting on landscaping stones. They literally stole the only means some folks had of evacuating. I am horrified at the callousness. Heard on the news some garbage even started shooting at law enforcement while looting houses.

We're going to try to head over to some of the emergency shelters soon to provide supplies. Area groceries are open limited hours and receiving new deliveries thank goodness.

I hope everyone else here stayed safe and as dry as possible.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2017, 01:12:00 PM by Frankies Girl »
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jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2017, 01:24:13 PM »
Very upsetting, what is happening for some people/families.

I'm grateful those of you MMMers there are letting us know how you're doing. So glad to hear the rain has let up! FG, happy for you your house is okay!

SoundFuture

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2017, 08:33:51 AM »
All day yesterday it was helicopters overhead, large vehicles going past and people with boats as the nearby river crested over the 500-year flood mark.

My family has been high and dry, for which I have been thankful.

ketchup

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2017, 08:47:47 AM »
Saw this on reddit this morning: I-10 east of Houston:



Scary stuff.

panda

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2017, 08:48:16 AM »
NPR spent an hour this morning talking about changes to federal law in 1968 that created federal flood insurance and triggered the massive development of Florida and all of the other coastal areas that are vulnerable to hurricanes.  I knew about it already, but unfortunately this is all news to all of the libertarians out there who enjoy massive federal subsidies for their vacation homes -- both the federal flood insurance and the mortgage deduction.  The benefits on a vacation home often exceed the cost of housing a family in their primary residence in a city that doesn't get hit by these damn hurricanes. 

Meanwhile, the same laws did not apply to inland areas like the industrial Midwest, where it is impossible to build on a flood plain, and in fact many homes were bought and demolished by the government in the 20th century.   That's why the periodic flooding of the Tennessee, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers and their tributaries do not cause widespread humanitarian crisis.  Cities like Louisville and Cincinnati were the site of massive flooding disasters in the early 1900s but flood controls + the banning of flood plain construction has eliminated those problems. 

Yet we have laws in place that keep encouraging people to move away from the relatively disaster-proof Midwest to the intensely disaster-prone Atlantic and Gulf coasts.  Plus we have upwards of 10 million people living out in the middle of the desert.  All of this at the expense of the once-great industrial Midwest.  St. Louis, Cleveland, etc. have been hollowed-out to the advantage of disaster-prone Texas and Florida.
Ars Technica also had an article on this that was written by a meteorologist in Houston. Quoted for relevancy:

Quote
He's not alone, of course; only about 20 percent of Houston-area homeowners have flood insurance.

and from a commentator:

Quote
Another scary thing is that a lot of the houses that got destroyed (dead loss) are expensive ($500k+), under mortgage and don't have flood insurance. I can only imagine the cascading effect it will have on the economy. We may be looking at another mortgage crisis soon.

To be perfectly blunt. The long term impacts of this are going to be bad and to make matters worse it looks like Congress wants to shove income tax reform through right now. That's going to be really stupid if they do since we are looking at a minimum of tens of billions in losses and may even exceed Katrina (> $100B) in losses. Given how little flood insurance is covered in that area we may be looking at a federal bail out of homeowners and businesses. Basically, you don't talk about doing things that are going to impact federal revenues when major deficit spending is about to take place for humanitarian purposes.

Also, I seem to recall that something like a third of the petroleum refineries are offline right now. Unless that region takes serious steps to harden in response to climate change I suspect that a lot of infrastructure dependent businesses may be looking to relocate which will pull jobs out of the area. In short, at the same time homeowners may be facing major losses of assets, their jobs may also be leaving the region.

jmecklenborg

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2017, 12:58:17 PM »
NPR reported several days ago that some 500-year flood plains in Houston have been inundated for the past three years in a row.  It's pretty obvious that corruption took place in the area's flood mapping, no doubt motivated by greedy developers. 

Homes SHOULD NOT be rebuilt in and around Houston that have now been flooded several times.  If it causes a bit of a housing crisis, too bad.  Those of us here in the depleted industrial Midwest had large sections of our cities demo'd in the 1950s-60s that were on flood plains.  Then developers tricked Congress into creating federal flood insurance and hundreds of thousands of primary residences and vacation homes have been built in subsequent decades in places where the private market would have never insured. 

maizeman

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2017, 01:40:56 PM »
You can get a mortgage for a house on a floodplain without flood insurance? Jeez.

I checked at Texas is at least a nonrecourse state. So the bank can foreclose on that underwater (in both senses of the word) properties, but shouldn't be able to go after the homeowners for the outstanding balance of the mortgages. Good for the people of Houston at least, although admittedly that doesn't address your concern about a general mortgage crisis.
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iowajes

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2017, 02:01:00 PM »
You can get a mortgage for a house on a floodplain without flood insurance? Jeez.


Much of what is flooded is NOT on a "floodplain" as defined by the floodmaps- this is so far beyond a 500 year flood.  And it is often impossible to get flood insurance on a house not on a floodplain. Heck, flood insurance is often difficult to get beyond the 100 year floodplain. There just aren't insurers that issue it and NFIP severely limits who is allowed to purchase.

A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #22 on: August 30, 2017, 02:13:00 PM »
Federal law only requires flood insurance in high-risk flood areas. Other than that, depends on what your lender demands.

I live on a .2% flood area risk (Zone X). 500-year flood area. Lender does not require flood insurance.

Whether or not you can build on a floodway or floodplain depends heavily on local regulations. My friend was working a project where they planned to build a hospital on a floodway. He's not on it anymore, but people do it all the time. Def. not anything close to illegal.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2017, 02:14:39 PM by A Definite Beta Guy »

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2017, 03:18:52 PM »
Saw this on reddit this morning: I-10 east of Houston:

img

Scary stuff.

Yowza.

SoundFuture

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2017, 03:20:48 PM »
There's definitely a healthy discussion to be had over how to rebuild parts of the city, and if you're part of footing the bill, then you're apart of the discussion. 


As combative as jmecklenborg may sound to me as a local, their righteous fury would greatly increase my property value as scarcity would drive my home's value through the roof.

iowajes

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #25 on: August 30, 2017, 03:24:38 PM »

Whether or not you can build on a floodway or floodplain depends heavily on local regulations. My friend was working a project where they planned to build a hospital on a floodway. He's not on it anymore, but people do it all the time. Def. not anything close to illegal.

Houston has no zoning regulations. You can pretty much build anything anywhere. It has made this a lot worse, as there were no regulations for minimal permeable ground cover for instance.  (It also results in some weird buildings ending up next to each other.)

A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2017, 03:56:13 PM »

Whether or not you can build on a floodway or floodplain depends heavily on local regulations. My friend was working a project where they planned to build a hospital on a floodway. He's not on it anymore, but people do it all the time. Def. not anything close to illegal.

Houston has no zoning regulations. You can pretty much build anything anywhere. It has made this a lot worse, as there were no regulations for minimal permeable ground cover for instance.  (It also results in some weird buildings ending up next to each other.)

Maybe, but I'm going to wait until more reviews are done to see how big of an effect the impervious surfaces had, and whether that's enough to judge Houston's hands-off zoning a success/failure. Houston was going to get slammed with this storm anyways, and pretty much any city would be buried in water. Chicago definitely cannot handle 50 inches of rain in 2 days. Hell, we get screwed when people do shoddy repair work, no rain needed!


SoundFuture

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #27 on: August 30, 2017, 04:23:00 PM »
I need to say this because people tend to the think that Houston = City of Houston, which is not really true. Houston is only ~620 square miles of the roughly 2,200 square miles that is referred to as Houston.

Most of the areas flooded in Houston are not within City of Houston limits.  They're within county limits, and the counties are the weak regulatory structures, not the City of Houston. 

jmecklenborg

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #28 on: August 30, 2017, 05:17:53 PM »
The stalling of tropical storms is a problem everywhere from Texas up to Ohio.  No city is safe from the flash flooding that these biblical events create.  The difference is that in a pancake-flat place like Houston or New Orleans there are few if any places to hide.  The downtown is usually the highest point or one of the few high points.   

When Nashville was hit by a stalled tropical storm in 2010 and received 12" in one day, there was flash flooding all over the place and the Cumberland rose to a record height far above any historical level, but at least 50% of the metro area (if not much more) was safely out of danger after the initial flash flood.  The flat cities have to just sit in a pool of dirty water for days or weeks, as we have now seen a second time since Katrina.  That's why the building restrictions need to be even more stringent in those places.     
« Last Edit: August 30, 2017, 11:04:13 PM by jmecklenborg »

iowajes

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #29 on: August 30, 2017, 07:10:23 PM »

Whether or not you can build on a floodway or floodplain depends heavily on local regulations. My friend was working a project where they planned to build a hospital on a floodway. He's not on it anymore, but people do it all the time. Def. not anything close to illegal.

Houston has no zoning regulations. You can pretty much build anything anywhere. It has made this a lot worse, as there were no regulations for minimal permeable ground cover for instance.  (It also results in some weird buildings ending up next to each other.)

Maybe, but I'm going to wait until more reviews are done to see how big of an effect the impervious surfaces had, and whether that's enough to judge Houston's hands-off zoning a success/failure. Houston was going to get slammed with this storm anyways, and pretty much any city would be buried in water. Chicago definitely cannot handle 50 inches of rain in 2 days. Hell, we get screwed when people do shoddy repair work, no rain needed!

No one can handle 50 inches. But Houston floods all the time. Possibly some areas of damage could have been prevented in a lesser storm.  When this one stalled good things would never happen.

(Also, I live in Iowa but I've taught in Spring, Aldine, and Houston ISD. I've lived in multiple areas of Houston. I'm not totally arm chair quarterbacking this.)

Poundwise

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #30 on: August 31, 2017, 06:05:11 AM »
On the subject of flood insurance in Houston... very important article to share with family and friends in the area.  Sept 1 is TOMORROW!

"Lawyers to Harvey victims: File insurance claims before law changes Sept. 1 or risk losing money"

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/texas-legislature/2017/08/28/lawyers-harvey-victims-file-insurance-claims-law-changes-sept-1-risk-losing-money

iowajes

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #31 on: August 31, 2017, 06:48:56 AM »
Snopes researched this- and the thing that needs to be filed before Sept 1 is a LAWSUIT.

Out of court claims won't be effected; and it is unlikely anyone with a Harvey claim is at the lawsuit stage yet.

http://www.snopes.com/harvey-texas-insurance/

Poundwise

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #32 on: August 31, 2017, 08:11:41 AM »
While the biggest differences will be seen with lawsuits filed before the deadline, claims will still be affected:
Quote
Currently, if a court finds that the company delayed payment, the company must pay the claim with 18 percent interest. The new law knocks the interest down to about 10 percent. The law also reduces the amount of attorney fees that homeowners can recover if they don't estimate with 80 percent accuracy the amount of damages done to their home when they file suit against the insurer.
(from the Dallasnews article)

Quote
Tanya Pierce, Associate Professor of Law at Texas A&M University, previously practiced in the area of complex litigation and insurance coverage. She told us there is only one potential benefit to homeowners in filing a written claim before 1 September 2017:

    [Filing a written claim with the insurance company before 1 September] protects them from a small provision of the act that limits the insurance companyís liability on the interest that they would have had to pay as additional damages.

Again, however, this benefit only accrues if the homeowner later decides to sue the insurance company.
from Snopes

Quote
The only potential benefit from filing a claim before 1 September is that if someone later decides to sue the insurance company and wins, the company will be obliged to pay them the higher, pre-September rate of interest on what they owe.
from Snopes again

I predict there will be many, many lawsuits. Also, when claims are settled, likely the potential for an 18% vs. a 10% fee will be taken into consideration. If it were me, I'd make the claim today if safe to do so.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 08:19:18 AM by Poundwise »

SoundFuture

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #33 on: August 31, 2017, 08:18:15 AM »

No one can handle 50 inches. But Houston floods all the time. Possibly some areas of damage could have been prevented in a lesser storm.  When this one stalled good things would never happen.

(Also, I live in Iowa but I've taught in Spring, Aldine, and Houston ISD. I've lived in multiple areas of Houston. I'm not totally arm chair quarterbacking this.)

There is limited flooding in the greater Houston area almost annually. This particular event I think we can agree is an absolutely extreme event. The question I have is whether or not people will remember this in a few months when bond initiatives are on the ballet to improve flood control and hurricane hardening, because it usually is about as popular as a raise for school teachers. There's a really lengthy explanation for this, but suffice it to say that the trend in the state is that more and more taxes are paid directly by individuals and localities, and bond initiatives are almost entirely democratic by law. And getting those average individuals, who as we know are mostly not studious at all with their money, to vote for a significant tax increase on themselves, is next to impossible.

I'm hopeful, but I'm also skeptical. I would vote for such an initiative, but I personally have two nickels to rub together.

iowajes

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #34 on: August 31, 2017, 08:48:48 AM »
The area I've lived in has had 2 500 year floods in the past 10 years.  Our bond initiatives have pretty much all failed for flood relief. 
Many of the areas affected have been bought out and turned into green space, but not all of them.  It is just going to keep happening.

It doesn't help at all that Trump is wanting to decrease funding to FEMA and rolled back the Obama initiatives that deal with infastructure based on climate change models.

maizeman

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #35 on: August 31, 2017, 08:56:56 AM »
The area I've lived in has had 2 500 year floods in the past 10 years. Our bond initiatives have pretty much all failed for flood relief. 
Many of the areas affected have been bought out and turned into green space, but not all of them.  It is just going to keep happening.

It doesn't help at all that Trump is wanting to decrease funding to FEMA and rolled back the Obama initiatives that deal with infastructure based on climate change models.

Doesn't help that many people unfamiliar with statistics will interpret the statement in bold as "okay, so we've got a thousand years before we'll need the infrastructure to deal with a 500 year flood again".
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RetiredAt63

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #36 on: August 31, 2017, 10:02:24 AM »
Too much rain in too short a time can cause flooding any place.  I still remember this - we had a sunny afternoon, my friends were flooded.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_flood_of_1987

Ontario and Quebec basically don't allow building on floodplains.  What is changing is that when we get flooding the levels are higher - this can be heavy rain, or a winter snow pack melting unusually fast (effect can be 100's of km downstream).  We had flooding in my area that I have never seen before, because the snow melted fast but the snow in the culverts didn't, so there was no drainage.  Weather patterns are changing and we are going to have to adapt. 
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mm1970

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #37 on: August 31, 2017, 10:50:41 AM »
Too much rain in too short a time can cause flooding any place.  I still remember this - we had a sunny afternoon, my friends were flooded.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_flood_of_1987

Ontario and Quebec basically don't allow building on floodplains.  What is changing is that when we get flooding the levels are higher - this can be heavy rain, or a winter snow pack melting unusually fast (effect can be 100's of km downstream).  We had flooding in my area that I have never seen before, because the snow melted fast but the snow in the culverts didn't, so there was no drainage.  Weather patterns are changing and we are going to have to adapt.
friend of mine right now, dealing with aftermath of flooding earlier this year.  House flooded, kids started getting sick, whole house is moldy, their insurance lapsed for a month (guess when it flooded?)  Basically living with relatives, house is now a tear down.  I'm not sure what they can do, except maybe sell the land and keep paying the mortgage on a house they can't live in.

DarkandStormy

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #38 on: August 31, 2017, 11:23:53 AM »
It's not as bad as Allison (by a long shot) but things are getting messy.

It's worse than Allison.
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iowajes

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #39 on: August 31, 2017, 12:13:33 PM »
It's not as bad as Allison (by a long shot) but things are getting messy.

It's worse than Allison.
Not on the 27th it wasn't.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #40 on: August 31, 2017, 12:22:32 PM »
mm1970, that is just heartwrenching :(((((((

I owned once before, but became increasingly concerned about the possible trajectories, especially when observing the arbitrariness in insurance. I have my eyes open for owning again, but am being very cautious. It took 36 years to finally have even the basics; I don't want to lose everything.

I'm really sorry about what's happening for your friend. That's a LOT to go through.

jmecklenborg

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #41 on: August 31, 2017, 12:43:39 PM »
The 1937 flood has informed everything that has happened since along the Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland rivers.  Hopefully this is a similar pivot point for Houston.  From the outside it looks like the area's addiction to single-family homes is a primary culprit.  The future of this region should be up, not out.  No more single-family homes in vulnerable areas that aren't on stilts.  Encourage mid-rise residential development along the urban arterials with rail. 


Michael in ABQ

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #42 on: August 31, 2017, 01:42:29 PM »

No one can handle 50 inches. But Houston floods all the time. Possibly some areas of damage could have been prevented in a lesser storm.  When this one stalled good things would never happen.

(Also, I live in Iowa but I've taught in Spring, Aldine, and Houston ISD. I've lived in multiple areas of Houston. I'm not totally arm chair quarterbacking this.)

There is limited flooding in the greater Houston area almost annually. This particular event I think we can agree is an absolutely extreme event. The question I have is whether or not people will remember this in a few months when bond initiatives are on the ballet to improve flood control and hurricane hardening, because it usually is about as popular as a raise for school teachers. There's a really lengthy explanation for this, but suffice it to say that the trend in the state is that more and more taxes are paid directly by individuals and localities, and bond initiatives are almost entirely democratic by law. And getting those average individuals, who as we know are mostly not studious at all with their money, to vote for a significant tax increase on themselves, is next to impossible.

I'm hopeful, but I'm also skeptical. I would vote for such an initiative, but I personally have two nickels to rub together.

I can't remember the last time a bond didn't pass here in Albuquerque. Usually they get 60-70% no matter what it is. Personally I vote no on everything other than libraries and flood control but it makes no difference in the end. People get sold on the idea that their taxes won't go up if the bond is approved. That's not really true of course. If the bond measure got defeated then the city/county wouldn't be able to borrow as much money and therefore wouldn't have to use tax money for debt service and taxes would decrease.

Dumping 50 inches of rain anywhere is going to cause massive flooding. Short of building the entire city up 10' in the air there's going to be flooding and buildings damaged. No amount of infrastructure is going to help if the freeway is 5'-10' deep in water. It only takes an inch of water in a house/building to ruin the floor and walls. A coworker of mine woke up to a couple of inches of water in his house due to a busted pipe in the slab and it cost something like $25k between replacing the flooring, trim, doors, sections of drywall and the cost of staying in a hotel for a few weeks. Luckily his homeowners insurance covered almost all of it.

I'm not a big fan of socialized losses ŗ la the National Flood Insurance Program which has made it cheap enough to build in disaster prone areas. If you want a house on the beach in Florida then you should pony up the cash to buy private insurance or accept the risk that it might get completely destroyed. If you can't afford that then you shouldn't be building on the beach. The same goes for building in a flood plain.

A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #43 on: August 31, 2017, 02:23:12 PM »

Whether or not you can build on a floodway or floodplain depends heavily on local regulations. My friend was working a project where they planned to build a hospital on a floodway. He's not on it anymore, but people do it all the time. Def. not anything close to illegal.

Houston has no zoning regulations. You can pretty much build anything anywhere. It has made this a lot worse, as there were no regulations for minimal permeable ground cover for instance.  (It also results in some weird buildings ending up next to each other.)

Maybe, but I'm going to wait until more reviews are done to see how big of an effect the impervious surfaces had, and whether that's enough to judge Houston's hands-off zoning a success/failure. Houston was going to get slammed with this storm anyways, and pretty much any city would be buried in water. Chicago definitely cannot handle 50 inches of rain in 2 days. Hell, we get screwed when people do shoddy repair work, no rain needed!

No one can handle 50 inches. But Houston floods all the time. Possibly some areas of damage could have been prevented in a lesser storm.  When this one stalled good things would never happen.

(Also, I live in Iowa but I've taught in Spring, Aldine, and Houston ISD. I've lived in multiple areas of Houston. I'm not totally arm chair quarterbacking this.)

Seems like that might be the case, since Houston flooded in '15 and '16 (at least partially). I'm still not an expert on the trade-offs, though, and after reading the flood studies in just my small town, I'm wary of issuing recommendations to a metro area multiple times my size in a totally different state.

About the only thing I can say for sure is that NFIP should be charging actuarially sound rates so it can stop getting subsidized by the general fund. I don't care if the general fund is used as a backstop in case of catastrophic losses, but NFIP runs at an operating loss. My other concern are the large number of homes built on 100-year floodplains that are theoretically required to buy flood insurance yet don't have it (which is another WTF to me).  The program would be better off if more homes were signed up in the program.


jmecklenborg

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #44 on: September 01, 2017, 09:44:52 AM »


I'm not a big fan of socialized losses ŗ la the National Flood Insurance Program which has made it cheap enough to build in disaster prone areas. If you want a house on the beach in Florida then you should pony up the cash to buy private insurance or accept the risk that it might get completely destroyed. If you can't afford that then you shouldn't be building on the beach. The same goes for building in a flood plain.

Preach.  Last year, Mathew came close to destroying Hilton Head Island, SC.  It missed by about ten miles.  That entire island was developed after 1980.  Pretty much everything will be washed out to sea at some point. 

Noodle

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #45 on: September 01, 2017, 09:45:06 AM »
NPR reported several days ago that some 500-year flood plains in Houston have been inundated for the past three years in a row.  It's pretty obvious that corruption took place in the area's flood mapping, no doubt motivated by greedy developers. 


More likely that the combination of climate change + incredibly fast development means that flood plain maps were never all that accurate in the first place. Plus although they do all kinds of calculations, a huge factor is "what happened last time." Since the city is constantly rebuilding drainage along with private construction paving over stuff, we never really know how much "last time" applies to "this time," even before a nationally unprecedented rain event.

Now, I would totally buy that during the many, many fights over land regulation at the city and county level over the last hundred years, money changed hands to change votes/approvals, or to cover up construction that is not up to the codes we do have. Texas politics are traditionally, um, colorful although some of that has been cleaned up with greater transparency and more eyes on government (and frankly, TX local government becoming less of a good ol' boys club).

Financial.Velociraptor

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #46 on: September 01, 2017, 10:03:16 AM »
OP here.

Internet is finally back up.  My house stayed high and dry.  But about half of my neighborhood got water in homes.  Many were flooded up to the doorknobs and several up to the roof line.  At the peak, we had 40 refugees plus their animals in the clubhouse.  English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalog were all being spoken.  I spent three days driving people to hotels and shelters until they were all full.  We spent association funds to buy fried chicken from the only place serving food actually open (80 pieces, 16 sides, and 40 rolls) which I waited in line about an hour and a half for.  It was devoured in 10 minutes.  Generous neighborhood business started donating pizza and kolaches as soon as they reopened.  Neighbors unaffected also brought food (the homemade chili was quite good). 

I had cats, dogs, a cockatiel, and a 7 foot boa constrictor named Lester in my car this week.  The back seat is literally muddy.  The clubhouse is down to one refugee and has been turned into a donation center.  We have found the greatest need right now is cleaning supplies (mops, buckets, bleach, gloves, paper respirator makes, scrub buds, etc).  If you are in the Houston area and have extra cleaning supplies, please donate to a local clean up effort as these items are not currently available on store shelves.

We believed all our of humans survived but we have received multiple calls from people who cannot locate pets. The local water board is bringing in 7 dumpster to located strategically around the neighbor to remove storm debris.  The county will do it for free but it might take months and we don't want festering garbage in the neighborhood.

Thanks to the Cajun Navy and US Coast Guard who were enormously helpful in getting people and their animals out of their homes and to the clubhouse staging area.
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Poundwise

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #47 on: September 02, 2017, 11:22:14 AM »
Wow!  Glad to hear you stayed dry and safe. And thank you for the news from the front.

I heard from a friend that shelters all over the country will be taking some animals from Houston so that they can be fostered until their owners are found and ready to take them back. Hopefully they'll also start a database of lost animals.

jmecklenborg

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #48 on: September 02, 2017, 02:56:05 PM »
It is now widely reported that Harvey has destroyed up to 500,000 new and used cars.  That is as many as Katrina and Sandy combined.  Telling people not to leave town was a mistake.  It simply exacerbated property damage by keeping hundreds of thousands of vehicles in the driveways of homes that were destroyed. 

The Houston bus system saved all of its buses by parking them up on freeway flyover ramps. 

iowajes

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Re: Houston is a hot mess this morning
« Reply #49 on: September 02, 2017, 03:08:24 PM »
You can't say that telling people to leave town was a mistake. We have no idea what would have happened if they tried to evacuate. Possibly hundreds or thousands of people would have died in their cars. We have no idea