Neighborhood Update: Water continues to recede. There’s a lot of activity as more houses become accessible and dry enough to actually begin cleaning up/salvaging/tearing out.
I need to point out one thing to those of you who don’t live in Houston: This long-term flooding situation is especially awful/weird/unbelievable because Houston drains very quickly. Flooding rains and street flooding in Houston is common, but it rarely lasts pasts the actual rain event. Even most of the areas that flooded during Harvey drained within a day or two. We are in the unusual situation of being flooded by releases from the reservoirs that usually protect us.
Personal Update: Still not doing much of anything to help. Still somewhat waiting to be asked. Still not proud, but still being me. Husband is heading downtown to work everyday. He sets his own hours to stay away from the worst traffic during his commute. There is still no bus service in this part of town due to all the road closures. Milo the guard dog has developed some sort of fear of the kitchen…which is especially odd since that is the place where his food, water, and bed are. Stella the emotionally needy dog is coming by for an extended stay soon. She will keep me busy and test my sanity levels in a different way.
And now on to geeking out.
I can’t help but be fascinated by all the facts, all the numbers, all the stats, all the science, and all the engineering around all of this.
The weight of all the water caused the earth to temporarily depress 2 cm here.
Irma is so strong that it was picked up by equipment used to measure earthquakes.
The advances in satellite imagery, forecasting, and modeling are AMAZING – and yet mother nature still can be unpredictable.
I’ve learned that nowadays, dams and reservoirs are designed in part with a metric known as Probable Maximum Flood (PMF). Barker-addicks was designed prior to that metric coming into use, but even so, they think Harvey might have blown apart the current PMF modeling criteria.
I’ve read more about the history of the reservoirs and also followed closely how the Corps of Engrs handled/are handling everything before during and after the storm. We went to a short talk at the reservoir several years ago. Everything is 100% consistent with what the head of operations told us then. There’s going to be lawsuits and investigations and blaming, but the engineer in me says that they acted properly and that everything performed as it should have.
I finally have a clear definition of the poorly named “100 year flood” statistic. Not that a flood of some magnitude is expected once every hundred years, but a flood that has a one percent chance of happening in any year.
Does something that seems as huge (in my little world) as Harvey make a dent on a big scale? What is the effect on landfill lifetimes from this amount of trash and waste? Is the amount of new building materials needed to rebuild Houston a drain on natural resources or just a boon to those economies? Are there going to long-term environmental impacts to the Gulf of Mexico from the run-off?
Here’s one of my favorite sentences trying to put some perspective on the quantity of rain that Harvey produced:
The 19 trillion gallons of rain in the past few days over Texas would raise the entire Great Lakes 11.66 inches. That’s almost a foot of water over the entire surface of the largest fresh water lake system in the world.
I’m afraid that politics and emotions are going to take center stage in the aftermath of Harvey when what we really need to focus on are facts and science.
That being said, I’m ending this disjointed post with one link, not to a set of facts, but to an emotional essay. Human emotion is always part of the equation, no matter how geeky we are.