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Author Topic: Texas Tempest  (Read 1357 times)

Rob C

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Texas Tempest
« on: August 28, 2017, 07:46:55 AM »

Good wishes and sympathy to all LuLanders affected by the weather and floods in Texas.

Cooter - hope you're in Lodon or LA instead, with no problems across the pond!

Best wishes

Rob C

Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2017, 09:44:51 AM »

I'll heartily agree to those sentiments.

Eric
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James Clark

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2017, 04:23:53 PM »

Thanks gents!

All ok here in Austin, but my friends in Houston (about 160 miles/ 250km) are getting destroyed :(     
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degrub

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2017, 04:59:00 PM »

slightly damp, but nothing serious for us. Many friends have had their second or 3rd house flooding. There is a lot of water coming in from the North and West sides of the region that may cause even more flooding. The major rains have shifted to the East somewhat, just for completeness of misery. Nothing like living in the middle of a former rice field.  ;)
The real kicker is the Army Corp of Engineers is having to release water from the flood retention reservoirs on the West side of Houston to avoid structural collapse of the two dams into Buffalo Bayou and surrounding areas. This travels through the heart of the West side into downtown Houston and becomes the port ship channel.

Couple more days and we can start to recover.

Don't forget the folks in Rockport and inland that took the initial hit. That wiped a few towns out.
Next up is western Louisiana which has been just as saturated from this storm and is seeing flooding as well.
plenty of misery to go around with a lot of property uninsured.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2017, 05:12:48 PM by degrub »
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Rob C

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2017, 04:15:34 PM »

The France 24 (tv) debate this evening was about that storm and the flooding. The film coming out is unreal, with streets full of water, right up to the top of some roofs. What a dreadful thing to happen to anyone's home.

A point was made durng the debate about the massive building that's gone on around Houston, with so much concrete going down that few areas of natural drainage land are left for the water to get absorbed.

Much was made about the insurance situation too, where a lot of folks believe that they have flood cover but actually don't. Some have no cover at all, it seems, and may face the prospect of losing homes and having nothing with which to rebuild them - anywhere.

Nature can be beautiful, but boy, can it destroy.

I'm listening to KLEB -AM out of Louisiana; they are issuing weather warnings and also surge warnings. As long as the station keeps broadcasting it offers the sense that life there is still under some sort of control - I hope it passes without more loss of people.

degrub

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2017, 05:29:39 PM »

Yeah, Houston has expanded about 20 miles West and North over the last 40 years.
The clay soil will absorb moisture somewhat slowly. Nothing near what a good loam will do.
What many do not realize is that the prairie with all of the grass would slow the runoff significantly. That is what we have lost the most of. Pave that over with concrete and it is a raging torrent looking for a bottleneck.


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Ray

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2017, 09:52:05 PM »

This flood from Hurricane Harvey is indeed very tragic and my sympathies go out to all of those affected.

However, what amazes me is the frequency of major flood events in this region, going back to 1837, presumably when rain gauges were first installed.
Doing a quick count I estimate there's occurred about 170 floods during the past 180 years; an average of almost one flood per year in at least some part of the region, according to the following record.  http://www.wxresearch.com/almanac/houflood.html

The estimated 'total' economic cost of this latest flood could be as high as 100 billion dollars. Who knows!
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/29/total-harvey-cost-insurance-texas-tropical-storm-hurricane-sandy

But what we do know, with very high confidence, is that future flooding will continue to occur in this area.
We also know that the flooding has been exacerbated by urban development, that is, by covering increasing areas of land with houses, roads and pavements which prevent the rain being absorbed by the soil.

The big question is, after everything has settled down and the damage repaired, what steps will be taken to protect life and property from future flooding in the area?

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Rob C

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2017, 06:17:19 AM »

This flood from Hurricane Harvey is indeed very tragic and my sympathies go out to all of those affected.

However, what amazes me is the frequency of major flood events in this region, going back to 1837, presumably when rain gauges were first installed.
Doing a quick count I estimate there's occurred about 170 floods during the past 180 years; an average of almost one flood per year in at least some part of the region, according to the following record.  http://www.wxresearch.com/almanac/houflood.html

The estimated 'total' economic cost of this latest flood could be as high as 100 billion dollars. Who knows!
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/29/total-harvey-cost-insurance-texas-tropical-storm-hurricane-sandy

But what we do know, with very high confidence, is that future flooding will continue to occur in this area.
We also know that the flooding has been exacerbated by urban development, that is, by covering increasing areas of land with houses, roads and pavements which prevent the rain being absorbed by the soil.

The big question is, after everything has settled down and the damage repaired, what steps will be taken to protect life and property from future flooding in the area?


That was partly where the France24 programme tried to go, but obviously, before the resolution of the current crisis there will be nothing further to say on that topic. What happened in the Crescent City after the event? Were lessons learned (as governments love to say, feigning surprise), and if so, that new knowledge applied?

In fact, within flood zones, should repair even be contemplated rather than abandonment to nature?

Rob

LesPalenik

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2017, 06:22:07 AM »

It seems to be a bad year for floods. For comparison, the recent monsoon flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh killed so far over 1200 people and displaced millions. The UN said that it is the worst flooding in the last 30 years and it affected 40 million people. Central and Eastern Europe has been also heavily hit with 82 flood related deaths.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-31/india-nepal-bangladesh-floods-monsoon-rains/8858858

Quote
Torrential rains across central Europe have led to the worst flooding in decades, claiming the lives of 82 people.
At least 58 died in the Black Sea area at the weekend, where thousands of Russian tourists were caught out by floodwaters that swept cars and tents out to sea.
Thousands of British tourists are being forced to cancel holidays amid the chaos.
One of the worst-hit cities is Prague, where more than 50,000 people, including foreign visitors, were evacuated as the most devastating floods for more than a century threaten to engulf the Czech capital.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-133199/82-die-Europes-worst-floods-decades.html
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 04:29:16 PM by LesPalenik »
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degrub

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2017, 01:39:59 PM »

yeah, it puts Houston and area flooding in perspective. Seldom makes the news in the western world.
We may spend more money, but there is far more misery and impact elsewhere in the world.
The media helps make us into a tempest bigger than the teapot.
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Tim Lookingbill

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2017, 02:52:14 PM »

And what's even more disturbing is that most of the people who are being rescued are poor, at least too poor to have a john boat with a motor to rescue them both in Katrina and Harvey.

Why is that?

And another odd thing within the same socioeconomic perspective is that the news feeds show quite a few of the homes in the flooded Houston area are those that are of the quality I saw being built back in the early '90's selling for $100K-$200K while I was living in a $50K built ten years earlier.

Who the hell can afford to live in a six figure home? One of my relatives just got foreclosed on a house last year in Houston built in '72 that sold this year between $100K-$150K. Of course my relative walked away with no equity returned back and has to rent.

I wonder what this flood is going to do to home values. It looks like almost every square mile of Houston is under water according to the news feeds.

This is the kind of homes I'm talking about... https://www.lennar.com/user/images/262189/2015080602175017_19184327384_f3dd45e958_k.jpg

Here's the home my relative got foreclosed on... http://www.har.com/11314-whittingham-ln/sold_21902964

Don't know if it got flooded though.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 03:10:20 PM by Tim Lookingbill »
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Tim Lookingbill

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2017, 03:26:09 PM »

I also ran into a mom and son yesterday while showing them how to feed the deer by hand in my local park who said they left Corpus Christi (over 150 miles away) just before Harvey hit where their home was wiped out afterwards.

The mom had no front teeth and had the appearance of a history of substance abuse, a look I've become quite accustomed to spotting over many years as a native Texan. I asked them if they were moving to my town and they said no, that they were given a new apartment back in Corpus.

They must've been staying with relatives in my town. Not sure, but something about her story didn't add up.

And that's another issue that's going to have to be dealt with in that the level of desperation with folks in this socioeconomic situation is going to create a rise either in crimes and/or substance abuse, maybe both.

I still don't know what happened to all the poor that were devastated by Katrina. It's like everyone landed on their feet OK. Are they still living in those FEMA trailers with the formaldehyde outgassing?   
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Rob C

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2017, 03:48:42 AM »

And what's even more disturbing is that most of the people who are being rescued are poor, at least too poor to have a john boat with a motor to rescue them both in Katrina and Harvey.

Why is that?

And another odd thing within the same socioeconomic perspective is that the news feeds show quite a few of the homes in the flooded Houston area are those that are of the quality I saw being built back in the early '90's selling for $100K-$200K while I was living in a $50K built ten years earlier.

Who the hell can afford to live in a six figure home? One of my relatives just got foreclosed on a house last year in Houston built in '72 that sold this year between $100K-$150K. Of course my relative walked away with no equity returned back and has to rent.

I wonder what this flood is going to do to home values. It looks like almost every square mile of Houston is under water according to the news feeds.

This is the kind of homes I'm talking about... https://www.lennar.com/user/images/262189/2015080602175017_19184327384_f3dd45e958_k.jpg

Here's the home my relative got foreclosed on... http://www.har.com/11314-whittingham-ln/sold_21902964

Don't know if it got flooded though.

The answer is simple: lots of people can.

The average house price in the UK is, AFAIK, around £250,000. I'm looking for quite a bit more for my apartment in Spain. And it's only chicken feed compared with what's around in these parts.

In the Uk - at least - the usual route is via mortgages that can last your life.

A close relative of mine working in London is trying to put together half-a-million squids in order to put down a mortgage deposit on a reasonable house; it's doable. It's not doable for those with poor education and matching work prospects.

And no, there is no social answer to it. The problem is fitting the folks doing all those great jobs into a finite, tiny (relatively speaking) space. One can't wave the red flag and solve that; it's how life functions, not politics. And even free university to all won't solve it, because some students will aways outshine the rest and have über jobs - or at least the offered guarantee of entry to same - before they take off the rented gown. (The mortar board is an increasingly rare phenomenon today due to absurd Health & Safety problems with the removel of same and its communal hurling into the air as celebratory gesture. I suspect that such regulations are not entirely removed from the overall problems of modern life.)
« Last Edit: September 01, 2017, 03:53:43 AM by Rob C »
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Robert Roaldi

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2017, 07:45:52 AM »

I read a bit once about what happened in many areas of Florida. Because of frequent hurricanes, the insurance industry began to refuse to insure homes in some areas. This put a damper on real estate development, as you can imagine. So the real estate industry got their lobbyists working overtime to convince the state government to underwrite the insurance in those areas. I have no idea if this is still going on or exactly what form the underwriting took place. Did they subsidize the insurance companies, did they provide insurance directly to the home owners (something I doubt since it sounds way too socialist for Florida), etc. Maybe another reader knows more about this. I believe that column (or essay) also criticized the industry for failing to build "hurricane-resistant" dwellings. Basically, the real estate and insurance industries offloaded the cost of hurricane damage onto the state government, something you would not expect in a place that values the "free market" that wants the government to "get off their backs", you know, by collecting taxes to pay for these periodic disaster recoveries.

So no one wanted to address the real issue, dealing with hurricanes. Each entity wanted something, build houses, get elected, buy cheap(er) housing. But when hurricanes demolish an area, it's taxpayer money that comes to the rescue. I'm not saying it shouldn't, but the question remains whether it could have been done better. One solution is a strong local government that sets building standards and zoning and sticks to those standards. (Please stop laughing.)

Here in eastern Ontario (Canada) we had major flooding this past spring. Aside from old housing stock that existed on flood plains, there were also relatively newer homes that were flooded. They were built in places that should never have been permitted. The floods we had were not unprecedented, as the area had a similar one about 40 years ago. That is within a lifetime and there were plenty of people around who remembered that earlier flood. Yet the various municipalities allowed houses to be constructed in places they knew to be flood plains. I watched footage of a newer home with 2 feet of water in its ground floor dining room in an area I drive past quite often, on a spit of land jutting out into the Ottawa River. Who do you blame? The office that issued the building permit or zoned the area for residential housing, the developer, the home owner, the housing inspector that the owner hired prior to sale, etc? I don't know. But I know who paid, the owner, the insurance company (ies), and the taxpayer. The developers and officials who allowed these dwellings to be built were all at home watching TV.

I'm willing to bet that there were probably people who did lobby for those building permits not to be issued, but it's not difficult to imagine how they were ignored at the town council meetings, dismissed as the usual troublemakers and whiners. And I would have no problem with this construction if the participants had to sign a binding waiver that stated that any clean-up would be at their own expense. Does anyone think that will happen?
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Robert Roaldi

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2017, 09:35:32 AM »

I still don't know what happened to all the poor that were devastated by Katrina. It's like everyone landed on their feet OK. Are they still living in those FEMA trailers with the formaldehyde outgassing?

Partial answers? 

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/08/24/starting-over-dept-of-social-studies-malcolm-gladwell

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BradSmith

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2017, 01:44:46 PM »

I'm a retired civil engineer who at one time did storm drain design and hydrology calculations of runoff from various topographies/storm events.  When rain comes this hard/fast, absorption in soil stops pretty quickly because the soil becomes fully saturated.  Particularly true in clay soils.  So with the intensity and duration of this rainfall, soil vs concrete vs roofs made little or almost no measurable difference. Houston was so massively flooded this tlme because the hurricane was stalled from moving north eastward on its normal path by a high pressure zone, and more or less, hung around in an area a couple hundred miles wide for a week.  So this not so unusual hurricane dumped a weeks' worth of rain in ONE relatively small area rather than over a "normal" 1500 mile long path over the eastern US.

The underlying societal problem is that development has occurred in the Houston area, and all along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic sea coasts in very low lying areas and close to natural rivers, bayous, streams and creeks.  Very scenic.  Very much just a matter of time till flooding and related damage happens.  Guaranteed based on what has been built and where.   
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Tim Lookingbill

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2017, 04:02:58 PM »

My previous comment on outrageous home prices was meant to bring into question the real cost repair and rebuild of what amounts to IMO over valued or inconsistently over valued real estate that is going to be factored into the over 100 billion to be spent by FEMA and insurance companies.

My relative's 1972 home (bought 15 years ago) whose foreclosure was caused by taking on the expense of providing shelter for a close relative family of five members from Arkansas, clearly had been a remodeled "Buy And Flip" property that made it "worth" six figures.

And coincidentally yesterday on my local San Antonio, Tx news an owner of a home remodeling company offered up a challenge to the Houston remodeling industry of a $25K donation where he said..."Remodeling companies have made a fortune over the years in cities like Houston and I think they should step up to challenge and help these people because I haven't seen not one do this, yet".

Wow! I knew I was on to something.
 
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Ray

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2017, 10:11:52 PM »

Here in eastern Ontario (Canada) we had major flooding this past spring. Aside from old housing stock that existed on flood plains, there were also relatively newer homes that were flooded. They were built in places that should never have been permitted. The floods we had were not unprecedented, as the area had a similar one about 40 years ago. That is within a lifetime and there were plenty of people around who remembered that earlier flood. Yet the various municipalities allowed houses to be constructed in places they knew to be flood plains. I watched footage of a newer home with 2 feet of water in its ground floor dining room in an area I drive past quite often, on a spit of land jutting out into the Ottawa River. Who do you blame? The office that issued the building permit or zoned the area for residential housing, the developer, the home owner, the housing inspector that the owner hired prior to sale, etc? I don't know. But I know who paid, the owner, the insurance company (ies), and the taxpayer. The developers and officials who allowed these dwellings to be built were all at home watching TV.

I'm willing to bet that there were probably people who did lobby for those building permits not to be issued, but it's not difficult to imagine how they were ignored at the town council meetings, dismissed as the usual troublemakers and whiners. And I would have no problem with this construction if the participants had to sign a binding waiver that stated that any clean-up would be at their own expense. Does anyone think that will happen?

We have similar situations in Australia. It's a widespread problem. I can only presume that the motivation for continuous economic development overrides the concerns about the fairly certain repetition of previous historical floods or cyclones in a particular area, especially when the really devastating floods occur only once every 30 or 40 years.

The city of Brisbane in Australia is a perfect example of this attitude. Attached is a historical photo of the centre of Brisbane city during the worst flood on record in 1893, another photo of a later major flood in 1974, and a more recent aerial view of the last major flood in 2011. The attached graph shows the frequency of flooding in Brisbane since 1832.

Part of the problem also is that most members of the public are not aware of such historical records. Many are also immigrants and most people probably just assume that the local government and building authority would not approve the construction of a dwelling in a particular location which is vulnerable to flooding.


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Ray

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2017, 01:41:09 AM »

The above photo in the previous post, of the 1893 flood in Brisbane, is very low quality. I wish I had access to the original negative. Unfortunately, I can't find a better rendition on the internet, so I've attempted to improve the shot in Photoshop, by raising the shadows and reducing the highlights.

It's difficult to get much improvement, but I hope the following attachment is noticeably better. What do you think?

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LesPalenik

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Re: Texas Tempest
« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2017, 02:34:16 AM »

Good work, Ray - considering the low resolution of the original image.   
The next step is to colorize the picture.
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