That is the only word that keeps coming to my mind as I try to understand what is still unfolding in the Houston area. I have lived here since 1983 and seen hurricanes like Alicia and Ike, and tropical storms like Allison, but the speed at which this storm developed, and its scope, was beyond what anyone could imagine, let alone what we had seen before. Even as the storm strengthened throughout last Friday, and we received reports of the potential rainfall amounts, such reports seemed ridiculously beyond comprehension. Well, we are now surrounded by it and it is still difficult to comprehend.
For those who are criticizing the decision of local leaders not to order a mandatory evacuation, I know emotions are running high, but please get a grip and stop. Anyone who has lived here long enough to have lived through these storms, including Rita, know that this storm occurred too quickly to allow for a large scale evacuation. Most of our freeways are designed to flood during large-scale storms in order to augment the watershed runoff. I cannot even imagine the loss of life that could have occurred had our neighbors been stranded in traffic jams, like they were during the Rita evacuation, when the roads began to flood. There simply was not enough time to organize and administer a phased evacuation as happened in the lead-up to Ike.
Instead of criticizing local leaders, I want to praise all of the public officials, first responders and neighbors throughout this entire region, who are helping to rescue and shelter our neighbors in need. For those of you who may read this who do not reside in this area, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers during the days, weeks, months and years ahead. It will take a long time to get back on our feet and we will need all the help we can get—from each other and from others.
As for my family, we are spread-out over the entire area, but everyone so far is safe. My wife and I are still safe and dry, because our house sits on one of the highest elevations in our village—but there is flooding all around our village, so it will be days before we can probably drive out of our community. We are the lucky ones, who for some reason have so far been blessed. Again, please keep our neighbors in your thoughts and prayers.
Bill Frazer says
Nothing about this storm could have been reasonably predicted,
So many people have come forward to help so many others. Let’s keep that spirit alive.
Good on ya Ed.
George Scott says
The thesis of this statement is not factually accurate except to those who have no memory!
For Houston proper, Alicia was modest downpayment. Once it happens or reasonably so, it becomes predictable.
Most news organizations don’t have a lot of institutional memory.
Alicia was significant but more significant was another lady named Claudette. She was born in 1979.
Harvey was horrible – 50+ inches over about 4 days.
By comparison to Claudette, Harvey was a genuine wimp.
38 years ago, not long in terms of using real world experience to the concept of extrapolated predictability, big sister Claudette dumped 43 inches of rain in 24 HOURS right above Alvin.
Please don’t use irrational standards of predictability to rationalize 38 years of favored nation status to development standards that pre-determine catastrophe.
Defend, implicitly, politicians and policy makers all you want. Please just don’t use PP – predictability pablum as a pacifier for reality..
Statisticians and political rationalizers can call this a 20, 30, or 40,000 year storm but accept the reality that HARVEY was not even a 39 year storm!
Fat Albert says
It would probably be helpful if you were to actually read the article about which you were commenting. Ed’s sole proposition in the article was to note that hindsight calls for evacuation were both not useful and contradicted by facts in evidence. He said not one word about long term planning policies.
As for whether Harvey was a wimp, we can argue specifics, but the Nation Weather Service calls it the biggest rain event in US History. Hardly a wimp.
But, given your powers of prognostication, and your superlative grasp of statistical probabilities of large weather systems in the Southeast Texas area, there is but a single question remaining. Why are you still here?
George Scott says
It might even be better if you read my comment, but let us not get hyper technical. My comment was addressed in context to the always superficial Frazier.
In addition, what I wrote had to your apparent distress the unfortunate problem of being accurate. If you actually want to engage in how often a 100 year or whatever flood can occur then bring your cue cards and we can have an LD debate! Useless waste of time, be in context like I was!
George Scott says
The difference from a practical standpoint since 1979?
As realtors say: location, location, location.
Back in 1979 when my family lived through Claudette, I predicted: “God help Houston WHEN it happens there”
It was not only predictable; it was predicted!
sounds more like a holy command than a prediction, this George guy is a powerful being