09/13/17 10:15am

Yes, there are spots where Harris County public health officials have determined it’s still not safe to drink the water. And here they are: Areas still under drinking-water advisories are marked in red in the above interactive map; areas where advisories issued after flooding resulting from Hurricane Harvey have already been lifted are marked in green. Click on each area and a popup or panel will provide details. The county promises to update the map every 24 hours. A full-browser-width version of the map is available here.

Map: Harris County Public Health

Harvey Maps
09/13/17 8:30am

Photo of Harvey cleanup in Bellaire: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
09/12/17 5:00pm

THE TIPLINE IS OPEN If you snapped some pics or vids of notable sights before, during, or after Harvey, or of something unique that’s sprouted in the aftermath, send them to Swamplot! To cover this city properly, we need your your tips. Photos or short videos can be sent to the Swamplot Flickr pool. If you’ve uploaded a relevant video to YouTube, send us a link. We want to see images you’ve taken yourself. Please let us know where they were taken, and whether you’d like to be credited if we publish any of them. While you’re at it, be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and sign up to be on our email list.

09/12/17 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: RENTING AFTER HARVEY “What if a rental tenant brings to the attention of a landlord that the sheetrock and flooring need to be replaced in order for the home to be habitable. Then, the landlord agrees and ends the lease, deems the costs associated with repair to be uneconomical and tears down the house. The family living there has no place to go as every rental property in the same price strata has been leased. What then? This is not a rhetorical question. I have TWO close friends with young children in this situation. Landlord wants to tear down the homes because repairs too costly. Both families have money to pay rent, but can’t find a home to rent. Advice is welcome.” [Nice Neighbor, commenting on A Flood of Eviction Notices; Meyerland, Before and After; Here Come the Mosquitoes] Illustration: Lulu

09/12/17 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: ABANDONED NEIGHBORHOODS MAKE GREAT DETENTION PONDS “I grew up off Fairbanks/West Little York area. TS Allison was the third time Creekside Estates and Woodland Trails West II had flooded which meant those homes wouldn’t be insured for future floods. Both of those neighborhoods are almost completely gone now, mainly just streets people use to cut through. Even with all the new construction/neighborhoods built near Breen Rd, nothing around has flooded since. The south side of WTW where Gulf Bank runs through flooded twice in late ’90s, along with Philippine St. in Jersey Village. Neither of those areas have had a third flood event; not Ike, Memorial Day flood, Tax Day flood or Harvey could flood them. A huge reason why has got to be because old Creekside Estates and WTW II hold so much of the water that would’ve flooded them out that costly third time years ago. Sometimes you have to cut loose some fat for the overall good and I know it sounds heartless but I’ve seen it work. These very flood prone neighborhoods just have to be made into retention areas because it works.” [mas, commenting on How About We Don’t Sell People Homes in Areas That Keep Flooding, and Other Crazy Ideas for Houstonians To Discuss Amongst Themselves] Illustration: Lulu

09/12/17 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY SECOND RUNNER-UP: THE CANAL PLAN FOR HOUSTON “Build canals everywhere. Become the American Amsterdam. Rather than a Pierce Elevated park . . . have a canal that can take on additional water from Buffalo Bayou. Canals throughout Montrose, Midtown, Downtown and around Washington. Canals on the East End and through EaDo. Canals near the Med Center to relieve Brays Bayou, and on and on and on again. Give water new dedicated places to go that we can call amenities, and make Houston a more interesting and attractive place to recruit new companies and tourists, because our canals are unique and cool places to hang out. The Dutch know water, so why not copy them. Then release a ton of GMO mosquitos to kill off the rest of them.” [Canalguy, commenting on How About We Don’t Sell People Homes in Areas That Keep Flooding, and Other Crazy Ideas for Houstonians To Discuss Amongst Themselves] Illustration: Lulu

09/12/17 12:45pm

Sometime over the weekend the row of a dozen-plus street trees lining the west side of Kirby Dr. between W. Main St. and Colquitt got cut down, a Swamplot reader reports. This leaves the eastern front of the Kirby Collection construction site fronted by an alternating pattern of high and low streetlights and stumps. The wooden construction fence that stood for about a year just inside of the sidewalk in front of the mixed-use project is now gone. The photo above shows the view looking south now from the corner of W. Main St.

The removed “highrise” oaks had been installed 9 years ago with the reconstruction of Kirby Dr. — replacing the larger 20-year-old oaks that had been there earlier.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

Upper Kirby
09/12/17 10:30am

Here, courtesy of a Swamplot reader, are a few exterior views of the building at 1318 Westheimer after its weekend fire. “The damage is pretty severe,” Shawn Bermudez wrote on Facebook Saturday evening. The owner of Royal Oak Bar & Grill, which shut down in this location last September, had been renovating the property in order to reopen it as a bar named Present Company. That work was a month from completion, Bermudez estimates. Among the additions to the former 1950s home: new steel doors and windows. And here’s a view showing the current state of the new piggyback patio added in back:

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Bar and Grill
09/12/17 8:30am

Photo of Baytown home: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool

Headlines
09/11/17 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: FLOATING HOMES FOR HOUSTON “I’m a ship designer with 20+ years of experience and I will say that a float-off house is absolutely feasible from a technical point of view. A quick check in the used barge market shows that you can get something house-sized (80 ft. by 30 ft.) for $65,000. Of course building something on-site would cost a lot more than construction in a shipyard. Not sure how this compares to what a foundation costs. But you’d need to add in some kind of anchoring system so that your house doesn’t float away when it floods. And permitting would be a whole other kettle of fish. I’m available for moonlighting if any architect wants to investigate this for a client!” [Orang Bodoh, commenting on Where Are Houston’s Floodwater-Ready Homes]

09/11/17 3:00pm

The headline suggestion in a 6-page policy paper published last week under the banner of Rice University’s Baker Institute comes in item 2 of a helpfully numbered list of 15 things Houston might want to do or think about to make future never-seen-this-before flooding events a little less catastrophic: Author Jim Blackburn, an environmental attorney, pioneering Houston-area naturalist, and longtime let’s-not-flood advocate, proposes a “fair but extensive home buyout and removal program” targeted at homes that have been flooded 3 or more times since Tropical Storm Allison in 2001: “It is unlikely we can develop strategies to protect them from severe rainfall events that are much more frequent than labels such as ‘100-year’ or even ‘500-year’ rainfall events suggest,’ he writes.

Among the less radical proposals put forward in his list is the suggestion to map and categorize the Houston region by its propensity to flood: “safe” areas that didn’t flood — and should therefore become “the backbone of the Houston of Tomorrow” — “transitional” areas (only “single-event” flooding); and “buyout” areas — which can be targeted for parks and “future green infrastructure.”

Other ideas and issues from the paper that Blackburn hopes will “initiate a conversation” are summarized here:

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The City That Floods
09/11/17 10:45am

WHY YOU MIGHT WANT TO THINK TWICE BEFORE EVEN APPLYING FOR AN SBA LOAN AFTER HARVEY As lines begin to form at the 3 new disaster recovery centers opened today at the Katy Mills Mall, Greenspoint Mall, and Baytown Community Center, people seeking assistance from FEMA or the Small Business Administration after their homes or businesses were damaged by the storm may want to know about a little HUD rule passed in 2011. Intended to prevent victims from receiving assistance for the same disaster from 2 separate agencies (which had cost the government $1 billion after Hurricane Katrina and the Midwest floods a few years later), the rule ended up going a little further than that: “Every dollar for which disaster victims are approved for an SBA loan is a dollar less they can receive from a federal grant,” reports Danny Vinik in Politico. “In other words, if a victim who is eligible for $120,000 in assistance is offered a $90,000 SBA loan, she can only receive grants worth $30,000—no matter if she accepts or declines the loan.” Complicating the issue for some: low-interest-rate SBA Disaster Loans can provide funds within a few weeks; any outright grants from FEMA would take much longer. [Houston Chronicle; Politico] Photo of ATM at Katy Mills Mall: Cindy D.