This is fabulous news:
Hurricane Rita has the potential to flood an area almost twice the size of New Orleans when it reaches shore early Saturday, causing tens of billions of dollars in damage to the Houston metropolitan area and plunging yet another major Gulf Coast metropolis into disarray.
A study performed last year by the engineering firm Dodson & Associates found that a Category 5 storm could inundate 369 square miles of Harris County, which contains Houston and some of its suburbs. The study estimated the total cost of a worst-case storm at $80 billion, with 75 percent due to flooding and the rest from wind damage.
The roadways on the south side of Houston are virtually empty in this unusual view of the city that always has heavy traffic on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2005. Much of the interstate traffic north of the city is a virtual parking lot as evacuees proceed at a speed of about 4 miles an hour as they flee the approaching Hurricane Rita. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan) (Pat Sullivan – AP)
“You’re looking at the southeast quadrant of the city of Houston, from downtown to Galveston Bay, being underwater,” said Chris Johnson, president of Dodson & Associates.
That area is home to about 700,000 people, 15 percent of the metro population. It includes the Johnson Space Center, which sits about 20 miles southeast of downtown Houston in a low-lying area threaded by bayous. NASA evacuated the space center Wednesday, shifting ground control over the International Space Station to a Russian space agency facility outside Moscow.
I know it is probably ghoulish to say this now, but at some point, we need to have a serious conversation about the government obligations to people who live in fl0od plains and high-risk area.
From Feb. 20, 2005:
Houston’s perfect storm would feed on late summer’s warm waters as it barreled northward across the Gulf of Mexico, slamming into the coast near Freeport.
A landfall here would allow its powerful upper-right quadrant, where the waves move in the same direction as the storm, to overflow Galveston Bay. Within an hour or two, a storm surge, topping out at 20 feet or more, would flood the homes of 600,000 people in Harris County. The surge also would block the natural drainage of flooded inland bayous and streams for a day or more.
Coastal residents who ignored warnings to flee would have no hope of escape as waters swelled and winds roiled around their homes. Very likely, hundreds, perhaps even thousands, would die.
Meanwhile, as the storm moved over western Harris County, its most dangerous winds, well in excess of 120 mph even inland, would lash the Interstate 45 corridor, including Clear Lake, the Texas Medical Center and downtown.
Many older buildings could not withstand such winds.
Anything not tied down, from trees to mobile homes to light poles, would become missiles, surreally tumbling and flying through the air, flattening small houses, shattering skyscraper windows and puncturing roofs.
The experts have predicted all of this years events, sadly. Reminds me of this Onion story:
Citing years of frustration over their advice being misunderstood, misrepresented or simply ignored, America’s foremost experts in every field collectively tendered their resignation Monday.
“Despite all our efforts to advise this nation, America still throws out its recyclables, keeps its guns in unlocked cabinets where children have easy access, eats three times as much red meat as is recommended, watches seven hours of TV per day, swims less than 10 minutes after eating, and leaves halogen lights on while unattended,” said Dr. Simon Peavy, vice-president of the National Association of Experts. “Since you don’t seem to care about things you don’t understand, screw you. We quit.”
“My final piece of expert advice,” Peavy added, “is that all of you people should just go fuck yourselves.”