Right now, we are focused on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and rightfully so. More than 160,000 people living in the U.S. are dead, thousands more hospitalized, and an excess of five million people have been infected. Here we are in the late summer 2020, and cities throughout Texas are becoming hotspots for infection and community spread. People are worried, fearful, and feeling threatened by a virus that we still don’t know much about. We still don’t have a vaccine for this virus and we don’t seem to have a comprehensive, national, single-focus plan for combatting it. While for some it may seem like a lifetime ago, three years ago represented a different type of worry, fear, and uncertainty.
August 2017. It was the beginning of hurricane season and like every year, people living along the coastline of South Texas started thinking about it and preparing, at least in their minds, for what might lie ahead. But really, no one was prepared for Harvey. Urban storm drainage isn’t designed to mitigate that amount of water. With limited green space to absorb moisture, water fell on concrete and that would become the pathway for devastating flooding all along the Texas Gulf Coast. That would mean that neighborhoods, cities, counties, and their residents would experience one of the worst American storms in U.S. natural disaster history. Even with all the planning and preparation no one was ready for over 40 inches of rain to fall in a few short days in cities that were clearly ill-equipped to handle that volume of water. The city of Houston was unprepared as much as the cities of Rockport and Corpus Christi. Residents were unprepared whether they lived in an apartment they were renting or a home they owned in wealthy fenced-in suburb.