Houston needs a reality check or next time will be much worse
The heavy rain started this Sunday and just kept getting stronger as thunder and lightning shook the city and surrounding area. Although the next morning brought lighter rain, the night’s downpour brought death and disaster to the Houston area.
With over 1,000 flooded homes and over 1,500 flooding emergencies, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a state of disaster for Southeast Texas on Monday.
Like many natural disasters, sadly, some people who get caught in the storm paid with their lives. Six people have died and many others are injured or still missing. The scarier part is the effects of this storm are just being felt and we already have countless homes destroyed, lives lost and families displaced.
There has been a lot of buzz about the flood all over the Internet and news stations. With the focus on viral videos such as horses nearly drowning and the video of a reporter saving the life of a man on live television, it’s easy to forget the devastation this storm is causing to the city and its people.
So, the big question looms: could the damaging effects of the flood have been prevented or managed better?
The clear answer is yes.
Although weather is unpredictable, disaster relief should be a top priority considering the looming effects of climate change. Sadly, disaster relief seems like less of a priority and more of a non-issue for Texas’ conservative lawmakers, who have done nothing to make hurricane protection a priority since Hurricane Ike in 2008.
This is nothing new. Social media sites like Vine, Twitter, and Instagram didn’t even exist for Hurricane Katrina in 2005, so our Internet history books only got a taste of the killer storm, compared to the coverage it could have gotten in today’s fast-paced world of live news updates.
Almost 2,000 people died as a result of the hurricane which affected more than 90,000 square miles and left thousands of people unemployed and homeless in Louisiana, Mississippi and southeast Texas.
Although it happened 11 years ago, the effects of Katrina show just how devastating a storm can be for an unprepared area like Houston. This most recent storm may be historic and deadly, but it’s nothing compared to what a hurricane could do to this area.
The Texas Tribune did a simulation of what would have happened to the Houston area if Hurricane Ike didn’t change course at the last minute in 2008. If it had landed just 30 miles to the southwest or had been 15 percent stronger, it would have killed thousands in Houston and crippled the economy.
It’s 2016, and I feel no safer in the Houston area than I did eight or even 10 years ago. The reality that one day the city will be underwater doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it once did.
Looking at the hashtag #houstonflood on Twitter will show you just how serious this storm was for some Houston residents.
The number of people who waited hours for rescue and who never received help at all is outrageous if you consider how much worse it could be. There are currently five shelters in place and countless brave first responders trying to rescue as many people as possible, but the lack of funds and oversight are obvious.
The United States is advancing in science, technology and ingenuity, yet our government still shows how unprepared it is for what seems like anything above a light sprinkle. The response time and organizational skills of those responsible for keeping us safe is just not cutting it, and next time it’s going to cost much more than a few lives if we don’t do anything to fix it.
Opinion columnist Frank Campos is a media production senior and may be reached at [email protected]