Weather analysts have described Hurricane Harvey as an extraordinary storm that has exceeded even the most pessimistic weather predictions. Flooding caused major damage in areas of Houston and Southeast Texas, as well as the death of civilians, among other tragic actions. Many commentators argue that governments and federal flood protections have not done enough to protect taxpayers from such catastrophic events. Rebuilding Houston and other impacted areas would not only cost billions of dollars, but there is no guarantee that the disaster will not occur again. The paper, therefore, is an assessment of Hurricane Harvey, government response to the storm at all levels, and how better they could have done to prevent the flooding.
The genesis of the Hurricane Harvey was the warming of the waters in the Western Gulf of Mexico and the Bay of Campeche. National Hurricane Centre strongly believed that the remnants of the storm would reform to a tropical cyclone. Surprisingly the storm intensified quickly and within a few days Harvey’s impact on the coast of Texas, Southeast of Texas and Houston was untold. Hurricane Harvey produced devastating winds along with heavy rainfall and huge floods. Uncountable structures were destroyed near the Rockport and Fulton area, roofs were blown off, water services and electricity was lost and infrastructure damaged in numerous coastal towns. Estimates of 39000 people were forced out of their homes to seek shelter while those injured were given medical attention (Amadeo, 2017). The economy was largely affected as some oil and gas production was shut down leading to reduction of nationwide output. Houston controls 4% of the power spending in the US with retailers and restaurants contributing about $1 billion worth revenue (Amadeo, 2017). Losses incurred aftermath is calculated to about $19 billion with a significant portion of the damages being uninsured (Amadeo, 2017).
The local officials, federal administration and even foreign governments have made efforts towards preventing future floods and even responding to the tragic Hurricane Harvey. The local governments set projects of approximately $130 million to accelerate flood relief and emergency cases adjoining the Brays and other coastal areas (Eva, 2017). Local officials have purchased homes that have been badly damaged by floods in the past that are prone to flood repeatedly so that habitants would not have to face such tragic events over and over again. The local governments also looked into the past weather patterns in predicting future occurrences and conforming building constructions. Essentially they have pushed towards the erection of public works in order to preserve and restore prairie land which would absorb the flood water. These efforts however were not sufficient to counter the Hurricane Harvey.
The federal government designated $15.25 billion towards the Hurricane Harvey disaster (Eva, 2017). President Donald Trump channeled money in order to enable provision of relief food to the areas affected. New laws were signed into place that included the spending actions to help the affected people with temporary shelter among other basic needs. Foreign governments largely made contributions in support of the victims of the Harvey. Singapore worked alongside the Texas National Guard by dispatching helicopters used to rescue people in the flooding zones. Israel promised to donate$1 million to cover for the destroyed infrastructure and its restoration. Volunteers from Mexico, Coahuila and other government entities assisted in the rescue mission and committed to give contributions towards assisting the victims.
Despite the efforts by government and private agencies, there are number of factors that contributed to the severity of the hurricane. Resilience of the coastline, the attempts by the local and the federal government to cub flooding and the strategies used to mitigate it were not effective enough. The city of Houston for instance attempted to mitigate building planning within the 100-year flooding and instead 7000 houses were built since 2010 in the flood prone areas of the city. Funds to sustain emergency situations are insufficient. To withstand, save and provide for the victims in the Hurricane Harvey, $ 125 billion was needed (Satiia & Collier, 2017). Political and legal developers have sunk themselves into deeper problems by listening to developers and forming policies rather than flouting smarter decisions. The fact that local officials have used past patterns to make future decisions is the reason why managing the calamity was only possible though assistance from volunteers, well-wishers and last minute law reformation in order to meet the needs of the fatalities.
The various levels of governments could have done much and must do so in order to prevent such like disasters. Planning for the change in climatic conditions is a good step to prevent and deal with risk that comes with storms and rainfall. Instead of looking into past patterns, strategists should concentrate on the future risks. Places such as Southeastern of Texas and Houston are at high risked regions since they close in proximity to the Gulf of Mexico (Robbie, J 2017). The warm waters in the sea translate to more evaporation hence when a storm come along, another Hurricane Harvey may be the result. Leaders should make plans for upcoming rainfalls by allocating funds, investing in rescue mechanisms and encouraging ideologies on how to deal with future catastrophes. Public education and stricter regulations need to be imposed. Many a times, people who relocate to places prone to flooding are unaware of the reality they live in. Majority of the scientists believe that anyone who wants to develop in prairie land should be restricted and well informed before granting the permit (Mazzoni, 2017). Putting up of sign posts in lands yet to be sold, civic education and other counter measures should be used by local officials in low-lying coastal areas. Reports show that the wide spread overdevelopment was the key causative agent to the distractive Hurricane Harvey. Local and federal entities should ensure that natural prairies are retained by setting stricter regulations and manning overdevelopment.
Recovery from the Hurricane Harvey will take up to years as billions is likely to be spent on renovations and fresh buildings. It is unfortunate that there is no much that individuals and governments could have done to prevent socio-economic order of life. It is high time that leaders in all sphere of life critically think of fixing future calamities. Prior planning, selfless decisions, implementing sound and effective policy and public education are just but a few ways to prevent future floods.
Amadeo,K (2017) Hurricane Harvey Facts, Damage and Costs. The Balance. https://www.thebalance.com/hurricane-harvey-facts-damage-costs-4150087
Eva, M.(2017) “Storm deaths: Harvey claims lives of more than 75 in Texas”. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
Mazzoni, M (2017). Did Overdelopment Make Flooding in Houston Worse? Salon 2017-09-06T10:00:43Z•2017-09-06T10:00:43Z
Robbie, J. (2017). “Tropical Storm Harvey Advisory Number 22”. National Hurricane Center. Miami, Florida: United States Government. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
Satiia, N & Collier, K (2017). How Houston Can Prevent Harvey-like Disaters in the future. Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-collier-satija-harvey-houston-prevent-20170829-story.html.