Ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to Mother Nature, and Houston is now paying the price

Twitter/@DavidBegnaud -- Arkema Chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, where officials reported chemical reactions after Hurricane Harvey,

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A Category Five hurricane remains a threatening possibility, one that could completely derail Houston if it hits the shipping channel, yet reports show more effort was put into guides to handle bomb threat plans than flood procedures.

RELATED: Officials reportedly chose whose house flooded and whose was spared during Harvey

According to the Houston Chronicle, the emergency procedures for handling a bomb threat at Crosby’s Arkema chemical plant filled a page and a half, while the emergency flood plan was one paragraph long.

There was an explosion at Arkema, and the plant is now being sued by Harris County for the subsequent environmental disaster, but it didn’t come from a terrorist cell; it came from Harvey.

The Houston Ship Channel houses a huge portion of the United States’ refining and chemical production capacity, and as Harvey thoroughly demonstrated, the plants there face a very high risk for damage and environmental nightmares following a major storm.

In addition to the businesses, homes were built in the floodplain with only a tiny line of fine print at the bottom of the agreement warning buyers their homes could flood. Harvey proved how much of the floodplain map was badly out of date, and how much flood risk needs to be recalculated.

The Chronicle article contends that people continue to think about storms in a fatalistic way that makes them complacent and unwilling to prepare. If there’s no way you could’ve anticipated an ‘unprecedented’ storm, why bother putting measures in place?

Congress is offering $44 billion in aid to be split between Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, but the consensus seems to be the amount falls short of what’s required. With the defense budget now at $700 billion, the Chronicle notes, “eight months of military spending could protect Texas from hurricanes and floods for decades to come.”

With the clock already running down to the next hurricane season, it would be smart to begin preparing now. While we can’t get the Coastal Spine built in a matter of months, we can shore up businesses in the shipping channel, and work to get flood control plans in place.

RELATED: Researchers are determined to explain what caused Houston’s Harvey floods with science

What do you think?

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