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Archive for September 1st, 2017

Thank You, Media

Thank you, members of the media for all you did this week. I, for one, appreciate your hard work. You went beyond the call of duty on this one. Many of you put yourselves on the front lines to keep me informed and more importantly, many of us safe.   You had our back. Your effort was outstanding and deserves one huge standing ovation and a fist bump the next time I run into you Jaime, Mike, Miya, Rebecca, to name a few. Thank you!

Commentary got this yesterday from the Chron’s head honcho:

Dear Readers,

  In Texas, we stick together.   There hasn’t been any greater example of this than what has been seen these past few days.  We are grateful to the police, first responders, emergency personnel, good Samaritans and many others who have volunteered their time and services, and continue to do so to help our neighbors and communities.    The Houston Chronicle will not be charging subscribers for the week we endured the storm. Because we realize there are isolated areas our carriers cannot access, but want to ensure our community stays informed, we will have free copies of the Houston Chronicle available at retailers through Sunday, September 3rd.   In addition, HoustonChronicle.com and the eNewspaper are available 24/7. Get the latest news on recovery efforts, how you can receive assistance, learn how to help and much more.   We will continue to work hard to bring you the most up-to-date news coverage of everything Houston.   We’re in this together.

#TexasTough

#HoustonStrong

 

Sincerely,

 

   

 

John McKeon,

President & Publisher and Houston Chronicle staff

Hey, that was a nice gesture. You didn’t have to do that. Sure, I didn’t get my paper for a few days but I understood why. I just went online and looked at the digital version. Thanks, again!

More from Bill King:

Initial Thoughts on Harvey 

Because of the work I did on hurricane response after Hurricane Rita, I have gotten a number of calls from the media about Harvey.  

The initial calls were asking about whether Mayor Turner and County Judge Ed Emmett had made the right call by not ordering a mandatory evacuation ahead of Harvey reaching Houston.  I think some in the media assumed that since Turner and I had been opponents in the last election, I would criticize his decision to not call an evacuation.  

But, in fact, Turner and Emmett followed the protocol that was established in the aftermath of the disastrous Rita evacuation to, with some very limited exceptions, only evacuate those areas threatened by storm surge.  As a general proposition, it is not prudent to evacuate areas that are only threatened by rising water from rainfall.  

The reason for this is that about 90% of fatalities from a hurricane are caused by storm surge.  Only about 10% come from wind or upland flooding.  In contrast, evacuations are very dangerous.  In Rita, about 130 people died in the evacuation.  That is more people than have ever died in a hurricane in Texas, with the exception of the 1900 Galveston Storm.  While it is miserable to be sitting in your house and watch it gradually fill with water (I know because I have experienced that twice), very few people die from their house being flooded.

I made these points in an interview with the New York Times.  Some of my comments were included in this article. [click here].  I also wrote an op/ed in the Times making these points in some greater detail which was republished in the Houston Chronicle today [click here or here]. I reiterated these points in an interview on CNN’s AC360 on his August 30 broadcast.  If you have Xfinity you can watch the interview in the their “On Demand” section.  Just before my interview there is a chilling interview with a man about evacuating his family from a Ft. Bend neighborhood, which highlights the dangers associated with attempting to evacuate.

There are certainly ways that we can improve our response to this type of upland flooding and we will learn from this experience.  But ordering a mandatory evacuation was not the answer.

Other calls I have gotten relate to what to do to prevent this from happening again.  I discussed this is in some detail in a Houston Chronicle op/ed  yesterday [click here ] and in a podcast with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd [click here].  The bottom line is that we have been skimping on our flood control investments for years.  Most of the money City taxpayers approved for flooding has been diverted to other uses.  The current City bond proposal has zero dollars for flooding.

If we really want to do something about flooding in our region, we are going to have to get serious.  Spend the money.  Stop diverting money earmarked for flooding.  Eliminate the jurisdictional overlap and finger-pointing.  Adopt a regional approach.  It is not rocket science.  

Harvey will be a tipping point for the Houston region.  In which direction is up to us. 

Here is the end of today’s E-Board take:

Hurricane Harvey is Houston’s seawall moment. This disaster should be the impetus for immediate action addressing flood-related issues we’ve discussed far too long without governmental action.

We’ve known for years that, just as a hurricane storm surge killed thousands in 1900, a storm surge today could devastate the Clear Lake area and the Bayport Industrial Complex. The refineries and chemical plants around the Houston Ship Channel provide most of the nation’s jet fuel and almost a third of the country’s oil refining capacity. We’ve long discussed how a coastal barrier system could protect this area. Now is the time to build it.

We’ve also known for years that we’ve been drawing too much groundwater from the earth beneath us, causing subsidence that aggravates flooding. Over the last century, aquifers here have lost 300 to 400 feet, turning some parts of our area into giant bowls in the ground. Meyerland dropped about 18 inches over the course of 13 years. Nonetheless, at least 30 of the 50 major water suppliers in Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties draw all of their water out of the ground. Now is the time to break our area’s dependence on ground water.

We’ve also known for years that the Addicks and Barker dams are a fracture away from triggering an apocalyptic flood. The Army Corps of Engineers has rated them among the nation’s half-dozen most unsafe dams. If they fail, half of Houston will go underwater and thousands could die. Critics also believe the Corps has allowed development to go too far, increasing runoff and impacting the deteriorating dams. Now is the time to stop development affecting the reservoirs and do whatever is necessary to ensure the dams’ integrity.

In short, the massive tragedy we’ve suffered through this week should incite us to undertake bold initiatives. This page has addressed these issues before and we will continue to do so in the future.

The 1900 storm that killed an estimated 8,000 people taught Galveston a very hard lesson. Another hurricane struck the island in 1915, but city death records indicate fewer than 100 people drowned in that event. The storm surge was blocked by the seawall, the structure civic leaders argued about for decades before a disaster finally forced them into action.

Just as that storm drove Galveston to build its seawall, Hurricane Harvey should be the catalyst motivating us to finally act upon difficult and expensive flood protection measures. Let’s stop talking and get to work.

Here is the entire take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Hurricane-Harvey-is-a-seawall-moment-for-Houston-12165697.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Honestly, I don’t have any faith in our political leadership to step up and act courageously.

When is the next flood?

Either local schools are going to eliminate Spring Break or they are going to let out in mid-June. We will see.

This is from our brand new ‘Stro Cameron Maybin:

A SPECIAL MESSAGE

from Cam and his family

Friends, family and supporters of the Maybin Mission,

As of August 31, more than 32,000 people have been displaced from their homes in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Saddened by the loss and devastation in the Houston community, my family and I began arranging a relief supply drive in Asheville, NC shortly after the storm struck. Little did we know, God had a more hands-on plan in mind for us.

As of this morning, I have been traded by the L.A. Angels to the Houston Astros. 

I am so blessed for the time I got to spend on and off the field with the Angels, inspiring local children to chase hard after their greatest dreams, but I could not be more honored for the calling to serve the Houston community in its time of dire need. I look forward to brightening the faces of Astros fans with my love and dedication for the game, but even more so, I look forward to using my Maybin Mission platform to drive hope, compassion and strength to my new community in Houston, and to all areas affected by the storm.

A special thank you to my Angels friends and fans for all your support this last season. It’s been one of the greatest years of my professional career.

Astros fans – I can’t wait to meet you, and I’m ready to give it my all.

We will continue with our plans for a relief supply drive in my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, and have already initiated some more local relief efforts in partnership with the Houston Food Bank.

Please keep an eye on this page for information about how you can join the Maybin Mission’s Houston recovery efforts.  

– Cam

I am looking forward to running into our newest ‘Stro fan this weekend. Hello, Kate Upton!

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