Houston Flood Plain Map Accuracy; Testing for Toxic Floodwaters; What Harvey Will Do To Home Prices

Photo of Baytown home: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool


16 Comment

  • Whoah, the flood plain maps are not accurate. I believe I said this on swamplot months ago and all the developer type engineers called me ignorant and one even called it dangerous misinformation. It led to like 5 pages of arguments where the engineering losers would not back down. I wonder how these losers in the engineering developer community even pull a salary? Oh wait, because they are bought and paid for to say stupid stuff and they drank the look aid long ago.

    Wonder if there will be 5 pages of mea culpa now?


  • Temporary tax hike. LMAO!

  • @Tired of flooding Civil/Drainage Engineer here to chime in…guess I couldn’t resist. The “losers” you are referring to may not be the most eloquent or persuasive individuals. I’ll try my best here. The “flood plain maps” you refer too are developed using statistics derived from historical rainfall data. So imagine we have 100,000 data points in the last 100 yrs. Now take 1 huge rainfall data point and add it to the 100,000. Will it change the overall average much? Nope. Does that make calculation inaccurate? Nope. Is it my professional opinion that we should leave the status quo in place? Nope, but I should caution you to be careful what you wish for. Want better/bigger drainage infrastructure or a true “high water mark” to set the standard for all future construction and design? Be prepared to pay the vastly larger sums of $$$ in the form of taxes that is necessary for such an upgrade. It’s why engineers long ago developed this whole “flood plain maps” designation in the first place. Infrastructure costs must be reasonable. We Texans don’t like taxes, and so perhaps that is part of the problem in this case too. Here is a link that explains the 100-year flood zone: https://www.massivecert.com/blog/fema-100-year-flood-zone-explained. Stay dry, and help a neighbor. Right now it’s the most important thing to do. Solutions to this flood problem will be found after a very long, painful, expensive, and drawn out legal and political battle between a bunch of people who know nothing and a bunch of people that actually know something but have trouble making their collective voices acknowledged because the truth is simply too expensive and too difficult to comprehend. Funny how life is so gray and not black and white – even for an engineer.

  • “Tired of flooding” is back and he ain’t takin no shrit from any of you so called “learned” moh-rons! Don’t bother arguing with him… he’ll just label you a developer and disregard everything you say.

  • @Gillo – I have no problem with developers paying more to not flood out other people. That’s called common decency. That’s why I hate arguing with engineers – they very rarely get the point.

    @Progg – wow, an ad hominem attack. For the record I don’t consider hydrolohists learned. Water goes down. It’s so easy, but you’re paid to not understand that. When you do figure it out, you act so smart and pleased with yourselves like you’ve discovered the human genome like a real scientist. Trust me, I know your type and am not impressed. But fear not Progg, one day you will be a real boy. Gepetto told me.

  • @ Tired: The civil engineering types readily admitted that flood mapping was no panacea and could be improved. Their objection to you was that you think that there are problems, and there are problems, but they aren’t the problems that you think they are. IIRC, you at one point advanced a claim that highrises cause flooding because they are tall. That’s absurd, you got called on that and all sorts of other ridiculous notions, some obvious, and some that might seem at least plausible to a halfway-informed layman, and yeah…in general, you were very obnoxious about everything, resorting to lots of ad hominems, some speculation regarding conspiracy theories (and here again, you’re accusing all hydrologists of being paid shills), and taking out of context certain comments when doing so suited you. There is nothing gained from engaging a person who is intent upon approaching a topic in willful ignorance and disingenuous intent. But we tried anyway; that’s what drew it out and its why they and I stopped responding to you.
    I only respond to you now to put your comments here in perspective for others who might read them. I am speaking to others. Please do not bother responding to me. I will not reply further.

  • Re: Turner Proposes Temporary Tax Hike for Recovery
    While the dollars per homeowner may not amount to much individually, I don’t think it is equitable to put it all on homeowners. What about commercial buildings? Renters? Churches and non-profits?
    A more equitable system would be to have a per gallon fee for wastewater – that way, everyone pays. Those that use more, pay more. No one is exempt from this method.

  • @Tired: Are you calling me a developer? It seems like you are. Please call me a developer and prove my original point.
    You should also avoid calling people “losers” if you frown upon ad hominem attacks.

  • @Tired of flooding “I have no problem with developers paying more to not flood out other people.” First, the average Houston-area developer DOES pay a lot more to build new communities that include much better infrastructure that meets modern design standards. Can’t say the same for the ones that built in the 1950-90’s. Are you suggesting we wake those guys from the dead and wring them for a few extra millions to install more detention ponds in their built out developments? The only way this problem gets fixed is by upgrading city/county wide drainage (which has nothing to do with developers and everything to do with local government bodies), and enact even more conservative development design standards (which the developers would pay for…and then pass that expense on to you/your mom/your friend that buys in that ‘hood). I can understand your frustration, but your supposed solutions are completely unrealistic and uninformed. The people that messed this whole thing up are dead and gone. For the most part the City and County now enforce much tighter design standards. Very few, if any communities built in the last 15-20yrs flooded recently. Most of those communities also built out 100-yr detention capacity – as required. That doesn’t solve the Harvey/1000-yr flood issue though, does it? Again, if we decide we now want 1000-yr detention capacity, that’s great but the decision must be made, enforced, and eventually paid for by the developer/homebuyer/renter that moves into that fancy new community with 1000-yr drainage facilities. The Katy prairie was paved over because the local market dictated it. There are half empty high-rises downtown/River Oaks/Galleria and meanwhile we have the fastest growing suburbs in the country. We have cheap, affordable, expansive housing that is attractive to young working families. Not sure what you do to make your own $ but I would venture to guess that in some way you are positively affected by all those millions of homeowners residing in those recently paved prairie homes. It’s the reality of the world we live in. Mistakes have been made. Time for clear heads to work together on the best solution and mitigate a future catastrophe.

  • So would this be a good time to bring up “climate change”? All these data points and we want the Feds to be able to tell what will and wont flood. Yet, we cant predict floods or even hurricanes. But some still think we can predict the climate over like, eons. How much environmental damage did Harvey just cause?

    But yea “developers pay more” just equals the retail price of the home goes up. Add in higher taxes, build costs, insurance rates, and we will see east costs home pricing in Houston. Yay.

  • Let’s not forget that 6000 people died in Galveston more than a century ago. Unfortunately these things happen. Talk to someone like my Dad and they’ll tell you about Carla and Camille. Nature just bitch slaps us every now and then. The aftermath just gets worse with time.

  • Did not read all of this but I never said high rises cause flooding because they’re tall. That is absurd. Get your facts straight. I called out the flood planes as being obsolete and got jumped like I was in a back alley by commenters here who have never admitted they are wrong. Houston was built by engineers and floods like he’ll. Great work, Sherlocks.

  • *plains

  • @Wolf Brand, the tax increase will apply to ALL properties in the City that are not tax exempt. Churches are tax exempt.

  • Why is “Developer” used as a derogatory term? The people that develop the homes we live in, buildings we shop in, places we play?
    Do you also dislike people who build our cars and planes? Grow our food? Or is it just property developers? Do you protest by living in a tent?