09/22/17 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: FLOODING IMPROVEMENTS “I have flooded twice in my home, once with 1 in. and then again in 2015 with about 6 to 8 inches. We rebuilt higher, and didn’t flood in Harvey, but I still wonder if I did the right thing. Basically I can say flooded, raised, didn’t flood — perhaps that’s a better story? Or even a better story is not near a major bayou.” [Bob Jones, commenting on When ‘Never Flooded’ Doesn’t Work] Illustration: Lulu

09/21/17 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE MORE WEST HOUSTON FLOODS, THE MORE IT STAYS THE SAME “Why does it matter? Even after the flood, I am okay with them building there on private land. Flood risk is just one of a million things that you should look at when buying a home. Heck, even knowing what we know now, I might still buy there in the right situation. If I was looking to buy a home in that general area, and the only way I can get one is to build one on the far back end of the reservoir, I would still do it today. Even after we calibrate the models to include the recent rainfall events, we will still find that this is an outlier.” [Rex, commenting on How It Came To Pass That Hundreds of Families Purchased Homes Inside Houston’s Reservoirs; previously on Swamplot] Map of subdivisions in or along the edge of the Addicks and Barker reservoirs: ProPublica

09/19/17 4:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: DISASTER EVICTION DISASTERS “This just brings into focus how landlord tenant law is totally inefficient when it comes to natural disasters. When a landlord cannot repair the leasehold in a timely manner, they have no choice but to terminate the leases. While it certainly makes sense that you would want to free people from having to pay rent on a residence that was not habitable, the unintended consequence is that people are uprooted from their community and scattered about the city with little chance of returning to their homes. Likewise, landlords are forced to empty out their premises and pray that they will be able to fill up their building once renovations are completed. Why not give the landlord the option to obtain temporary housing for tenants and keep the lease in place. When repairs are complete, the tenants can move back in without worrying about breaking a lease and do not have to compete with other tenants for space. Tenants could keep their address, which is very helpful for getting credit.” [Old School, commenting on Residents of 2100 Memorial Senior Highrise Now Have 5 Days To Move Out of Their ‘Uninhabitable’ Apartments] Photo of fire-safety warning sticker at 2100 Memorial: Swamplot inbox

09/14/17 5:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WAKE ME UP WHEN HOUSTON’S WAKE-UP CALLS ARE OVER “The idea that the Houston area has just been complacent all this time and needs to ‘wake up’ is ridiculous. Houston has been steadily improving its situation for decades through various means (infrastructure, regulation, mitigation, response, etc.). This progression got particular boosts by these larger events and we will see the same needed boost post-Harvey. But realize these rainfall events over the last 2+ years have been off the charts and applying these lessons learned takes years.” [Rex, commenting on Comment of the Day: The Even Bigger Reason Houston Might Want To Address Its Flooding Problems] Illustration: Lulu

09/13/17 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE EVEN BIGGER REASON HOUSTON MIGHT WANT TO ADDRESS ITS FLOODING PROBLEMS “People in Houston need to talk with people in other parts of the country to be able to understand the need for funding massive improvements in our flood control infrastructure. I had friends and family from LA to Philly telling me to get out of the city and come stay with them as soon as it was possible to travel out of the city. My sister even offered to drive her minivan over 1,200 miles to come rescue me. I still have family asking me whether they should cancel plans to visit over Thanksgiving for fear that hotels will be full and no rental cars are available. It is easy to get all worked up about taxes when you did not get flooded and go into the usual red state “don’t tax me, tax that guy behind the tree” mode. But much more is at stake for Houston than whether parts of the city keep flooding. We run the risk of being seen as a city that is not worth the risk for existing and prospective businesses. People in Houston are getting used to these flood events and are not pressed into action by aerial footage on CNN showing Buffalo Bayou turning into a raging torrent. But everywhere else in the US, people see that and are completely freaked out by it. If we continue with applying band aids and do not make any big dramatic moves to improve our flood control infrastructure, we will not only be risking future catastrophic flooding but will also be risking losing current and future business to cities that are on higher ground away from the path of hurricanes and tropical storms.” [Old School, commenting on Comment of the Day: Abandoned Neighborhoods Make Great Detention Ponds] Illustration: Lulu

09/13/17 3:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: FEAR OF A RAISED FOUNDATION “What I’ve found to be true, anecdotally at least, is that most people who have never lived in a house with a pier and beam foundation have ZERO interest in them. They are disoriented, confused by, and even scared of them. Some of them are a little creeped out by the thought of having empty space under their floorboards. (What’s that noise? Will I have to go down there at some point?!?!?) Despite some of the most beautiful and pricey homes being built in this way, some of these people still see it as antiquated and, even, a sign of shoddy construction not designed to last.” [driftwood, 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 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

09/11/17 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]

09/06/17 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: COULD WE BORROW BRAYS BAYOU RIGHT AFTER YOUR NEXT FLOOD, PLEASE? “. . . An undergound aqueduct probably won’t resolve the situation. However, this storm has made it pretty clear that having both Barker AND Addicks draining 100 percent into Buffalo Bayou may not be ideal. An addition channel that would allow USACE to divert some of the Barker outflow to Brays Bayou would allow for some flexibility. While Brays DID flood during Harvey, the water receded very quickly, with the water back within its banks and falling quickly while Buffalo Bayou was still rising.” [Angostura, commenting on Clearing Out the Mold; Houston’s Drinking Water Close Call; The Floodeds and the Flooded-Nots] Photo of construction at Addicks and Barker Dams: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [license]

09/05/17 5:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE GREAT RESETTLEMENT “I suspect you’ll start seeing ‘Didn’t flood in Harvey’ as a selling point in future real estate listings, which will drive up the land values, and drive the poor out to the flooded areas (which is par for the course). It’s no wonder that happened, though. Many of the oldest neighborhoods in Houston are also predominately minority. And the oldest neighborhoods (read, first settled) are the highest points in Houston. After all, who is going to settle in a lowland when the ‘highlands’ are still available?” [Chris C., commenting on Our Place Never Flooded] Illustration: Lulu

09/05/17 4:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: TRUST, BUT VERIFY My home didn’t flood, though a few blocks away, others did. I wonder if we could get a ‘Certificate of Nonflooding’ or some such official thing. I always laugh when I see a home listing with the words ‘Never flooded, per owner.’ Yeah, right!” [Gisgo, commenting on Metro Back in Service; Public Health Threats; A 12-Step Program for Houston’s Flooding Problem] Illustration: Lulu

08/31/17 1:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE RISKY GAME HOUSTON’S BEEN PLAYING ALL THESE YEARS “It is really amazing to look at the total disaster that Harvey caused (And Ike. And Allison. And the Tax Day flood. And the Memorial Day flood.) and say to developers and regulators in the Houston area, “Doing a heck of a job, Brownie.” Developers and regulators built thousands of homes and strip malls all across Houston during the boom cycles of the ’60s, ’70s, and early ’90s that had completely insufficient stormwater drainage infrastructure. Regulators allowed people to build too close to flood zones and builders did not think twice about building right up to bayous and rivers. The response from regulators was to require better development practices moving forward in some areas and apply a few band aids in other areas. This lax development attitude worked for a long time because it helped keep housing relatively affordable compared to other large metro areas. But after Harvey, people looking to come to Houston will have to consider whether the affordable housing and economic opportunities are worth the risk of losing everything in another big flooding event. The reassurance that developers are doing a better job with new projects does nothing to allay fears that existing housing is prone to devastating flooding. Houston’s failed development practices are now an albatross around the City’s neck.” [Old School, commenting on Comment of the Day: What Out-of-Town Reporters Don’t Understand About Houston-Area Development Regulations] Illustration: Lulu