By Jared Traylor
As many readied themselves for what would be one of the largest natural disasters in Texas history, families were faced with one question when preparing for the life-threatening storm: “Should we stay or go?” The city was faced with a comparison of how they would respond after what had happen in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina in 2005. All eyes were on Houston, with major news stations reporting days of flooding and high winds. Many were left with only their faith and decided to stay, and many were left with fear of the previous storm evacuations of Houston’s more than 2.3 million population. Harvey left hundreds stranded on highways, trying to evacuate. More than 60 people died What lesson have we learned as a country?
According to Rose State Environmental Science Professor Dan Ratcliff, the core of engineers could have done a better job. With the knowledge the storm was coming, the water could had been released from drains and lakes earlier and would have provided a source for the incoming storm waters, Ratcliff explained.
Researchers need to study past disasters and make changes before the encountering new disasters, he said.
“Cities along the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboards need to learn from the mistakes now of Houston and Katrina disasters,” Ratcliff said.
He suggested improving the pumps to avoid the billions of dollars in damages. He also emphasized the need for state agencies work on infrastructure to improve the standard procedures during crises. One option cities surrounded by sea water could prepare would be through “Stormwater Retention.” This is where water tanks or basins are built under concrete parking lots and allow water to flow through the concrete and be caught below. The water is then filtered.
Despite preparations, natural disasters are inevitable, which is why Ratcliff also emphasized the importance of medical teams preparedness. Medical teams should be outside the disaster area in surrounding areas and cities ready to go, he said.
Ratcliff also suggested people with medical needs be evacuated to a facility where their needs can be met as soon as possible. For example, Fort Worth, Texas, San Antonio and New Orleans were all nearby cities equipped to help Houston and nearby areas hit by Harvey.
He also cautioned against people thinking everything can be controlled.In environmental science we think we can control natural disasters with Levey’s like in Katrina. You build roads, houses, and design cities communities to reduce natural disasters. By learning from our mistakes different municipalities could work together to come up with a plan that would reduce damages and save lives. After the storm emergency teams need to include professionals that could help the rescue team as well as families and children to deal with the stress and loss. Child Care Programs need to have programs that engage children to take their minds away from the trauma of the hurricane.
Gayle Combs, professor at University of Oklahoma and electrical engineer, said many died because they were not prepared.
Many people lived in the area for 50 years and had not experienced anything like Harvey. Many people who lived in flood zone area lived in those locations because it was cheaper. With most of them in the working class and already struggling to make ends meet, only about 20 percent of these families had flood insurance, according to The Washington Post. People felt it was a safe area because it had been many years since it last flooded.
Combs said people need to be prepared and have an escape plan in the event that a flood occurs. Some people are not going to leave. Some people can’t leave. Some people don’t have the resources to leave.
President Barack Obama pushed an initiative based on climate change that would require higher standards from builders constructing homes and businesses and called for stricter building codes in coastal areas. These building codes would allow for a building to withstand Category 5 hurricanes. It is not known if President Donald Trump, real estate mogul and a man who questions climate change, will continue this push from builders.
No one can prevent natural disasters, but by remaining educated and staying prepared individuals could prioritize what the next movement should be to save lives and communities. By working with other cities to prepare for these unexpected anomalies, it could give communities a fighting chance.
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