Post-Harvey week in review: December 18, 2017

It’s another Monday, so it’s time for another week in review of articles about Harvey-related issues in Texas. If you missed previous recaps, they are here:

Post-Harvey week in review: December 11, 2017
Post-Harvey week in review: December 4, 2017
Post-Harvey week in review: November 27, 2017
Post-Harvey week in review: November 20, 2017

Just as a note: With Christmas and New Years upcoming on Mondays, we’ll table this feature until next year. Look for this to resume in early 2018.

Reads of the week

The Houston Chronicle’s “Developing Storm” series. Parts one and two are linked in last week’s post. The next three parts are linked below. There should be two more coming soon. These are very much worth your time to read, as they’re educational, informative, and, at times, maddening.

Part 3: What’s in Houston’s worst flood zones? Development worth $13.5 billion (Houston Chronicle): Since 2008, 1,400 structures worth $4.2 billion have been built on floodway parcels in Harris County. Part 3 of the Chronicle’s seven part series examines the differences between floodways and floodplains and how Houston’s regulations have evolved (or haven’t) despite our experience with frequent floods over the years.

Part 4: Harvey overwhelmed some levee systems. Future storms could do worse (Houston Chronicle): Levee systems protecting subdivisions in Fort Bend County probably performed as they were supposed to, but that didn’t prevent over 100 homes from being flooded during Harvey. And by no means do levees guarantee future protection from flooding.

Part 5: Officials patched and prayed while pressure built on Houston’s dams (Houston Chronicle): Addicks and Barker Dams have done enormous service to Houston. Learn about their history and learn how much trouble Houston would be in if they were to fail.

Flooding fact sheets

Continuing on the idea of educating and informing Houston residents: The Greater Houston Flood Mitigation Consortium has published fact sheets to help people in the Houston area better understand terms, technicalities, and flooding risks. Four of them are linked below.

Flood warning systems 
What is a floodplain? 
How to assess flood damage 
What are detention basins?

(Space City Weather is brought to you this month by the Law Office of Murray Newman)

People

In Post-Harvey Houston, Immigrants Struggle As The City Grapples With How To Help (NPR): Harvey caused problems or devastation for many, but very tight-knit immigrant communities are especially concerned about what their communities will look like after recovery.

Hanukkah comes to city where Harvey flooded 1 in 13 Jewish families (Houston Chronicle): One in every 13 Jewish families in Houston experienced flooding during Harvey, which also damaged three of Houston’s largest synagogues. The community is concerned that buyouts in Meyerland would permanently change the character of the Jewish community.

Texas A&M network to award 400 scholarships to incoming freshmen affected by Hurricane Harvey (Bryan-College Station Eagle): The Texas A&M Foundation and the Association of Former Students announced that 400 Harvey-impacted students will be eligible for a $2,500 scholarship next fall. The students must be first-generation college students with an annual gross family income under $80,000.

In Harvey’s wake, some worry about state insurer’s pace at paying claims from Ike (Houston Chronicle): There are still $60 million in unpaid claims from 2008’s Hurricane Ike in Texas, raising some concerns that payouts after Harvey will drag on for a long while.

Housing

The House of the Future Is Elevated (CityLab): One possible consideration for flood mitigation is elevating buildings to withstand more flooding events. So just how much does it cost to raise a home’s elevation? One Houston builder charges $75-100 per square foot, which can add up pretty quickly. More details in this piece.

Harvey-flooded homeowners struggle as mortgage bills pile up (Houston Chronicle): A number of homeowners are either trying to sell their property for what they owe on it or are struggling to meet mortgage payments in the wake of Harvey’s flooding.

Investors propel post-Harvey housing rally (Houston Chronicle): There’s been a lot of interest in home buying in Houston, particularly those priced under $250,000 in the wake of Harvey.

Unfettered building, scant oversight add to cost of hurricanes in U.S. (Reuters): More on floodways from Reuters, which investigates why construction in places it shouldn’t be occurring in, further strains the National Flood Insurance Program (and not just in Houston).

Research

Scientists Link Hurricane Harvey’s Record Rainfall to Climate Change (New York Times): Two different research reports unveiled last week found that climate change allowed Harvey’s rains to be 15 to 38 percent worse than they otherwise would have been. One also found that a Harvey-like storm is about three times likelier than it had been. While research on climate change impacts to hurricanes is very difficult, it’s a lot more straightforward with rainfall and follows a pattern seen elsewhere.

Gulf Coast Universities Team Up to Address Hurricane Resilience (University of Houston): UH will lead a consortium of seven universities (LSU, UT-Tyler, Florida, Miami, Rice, and Texas Tech) in developing the Hurricane Resilience Research Institute, which will address ways we can be proactive in planning for and responding to hurricanes.

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