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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tap, tap, tap — is this thing still on? Hurricane Harvey has Beldar blogging at least briefly

I don't know whether I'll ever return to regular blogging. Since its inception in 2003, and despite several long periods of inactivity, I've kept this blog online to preserve its content, for it is indeed a personal online journal for the times that I have been regularly blogging. And I continue to refer back to it myself, to remind myself of details regarding the various events and topics I've written about here. Sometimes I leave links to those past posts in comments I leave on other media, along the lines of, "As I argued in 2009, yada yada ...."

Hurricane Harvey has been an impetus for me to leave lots of comments elsewhere — some on one of my old favorites and continuing daily reads, Patterico's Pontifications, and many others on Facebook. (I have a personal policy against arguing about politics on Facebook, however: My FB friends include a lot of people who don't share my politics, and I'd rather not argue "in public" with them in front of other FB friends, just as a matter of personal preference and boundaries.) This seems like a good place, and for some purposes a better place, to collect my current and recent written thoughts about this epochal event I'm still living through.

So I'm going to republish here, in the next few minutes, a series of nine lightly edited comments or posts I've left elsewhere — for now, limited to my personal observations and experiences with Hurricane Harvey. (I've backdated the publication dates here to match the dates and times on which I posted on the original media.) Click here if you want to start with the earliest of the posts in their original chronological order.

Any such series must start with my grateful acknowledgement and disclosure, the very happiest of spoiler alerts:

So far, I'm safe and dry, having suffered no worse than worry and mild cabin fever during Hurricane Harvey; likewise my ex and our adult kids. We are incredibly fortunate. But like almost every Houstonian, we also have dear friends who've been flooded out of their homes, and who're looking at extremely grim prospects for the short and middle term as they try to replace their losses, to the extent that's even possible, and to re-build their lives.

For anyone who finds his or her way here — or in the case of a few extremely kind folks who've been at least occasional readers when I blogged regularly, his or her way back here — I hope you'll find this at least mildly interesting and less than a complete waste of your time and bandwidth.

I'm going to re-open comments at least briefly on these posts, but my tolerance for suffering fools and abusers is likely to be pretty limited, so please behave appropriately if you choose to comment. And notwithstanding the last post that preceded this new series — a satirical post written in October 2015, when I thought Donald Trump had little to no chance of winning the GOP nomination, much less the White House — I'm not yet inviting discussion on that post, Trump, the 2016 elections, or other matters political. Perhaps that will change with future posts, if any; we'll see.

Posted by Beldar at 10:28 PM in Current Affairs, Texas | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Tap, tap, tap — is this thing still on? Hurricane Harvey has Beldar blogging at least briefly and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) mg made the following comment | Aug 30, 2017 4:45:06 AM | Permalink

keep the updates coming

(2) DRJ made the following comment | Aug 30, 2017 6:25:03 AM | Permalink

I haven't read your posts yet, but I want to say how happy I am that you and your family made it through this disaster.

(3) DRJ made the following comment | Aug 30, 2017 6:47:29 AM | Permalink

Thank you! Your posts help me understand what is happening in Houston. I have family members who live in The Woodlands and their experiences are like yours, but they have friends who lost everything.

You know Houston. Do the flooding patterns and areas hardest hit make sense?

(4) Beldar made the following comment | Aug 30, 2017 7:06:22 AM | Permalink

Thanks for the encouragement and kind remarks, mg & DRJ!

Re your question: Yes, actually, the pattern of flooding — highly localized yet widely distributed — is pretty much what should be expected from past occasions. And by past occasions, I literally mean floods going back to the Allen Bros. in 1836: Buffalo Bayou and its companion/linked tributaries and bayous, drain a huge area upstream through our coastal plain, and we've had the same clay undersoil, with variable but limited saturability, forever. When you've lived as long as I have in Houston, you've seen some of these same areas either flooded, or threatened, in many prior storms. The Med Center is in bad shape now, for instance, but it is adjacent to major bayou drainage and has been very built up since the early 1970s, and it's been badly flooded before. Likewise, we've seen major drainage rivers in the area badly overflow their banks and flood upstream way inland, and we know what spots along those rivers are most flood-prone.

The differences aren't in character or kind, but in intensity and depth of the flash flooding, in the first order anyway. The water that might have been a foot over the curb downtown during Allison is now five feet over that same curb, while six blocks away, the pavement's exposed again, as it also was in the previous floods. In between, though, that differential is going to mean a bigger square-foot-area flooded, more acreage to greater depth, at least temporarily.

What's genuinely uncharted territory is the controlled releases from Barker and Addicks. That is causing flooding in brand new subdivisions, well built and well planned, including for flooding, but none of which expected to have to deal with voluntary releases! That is unprecedented.

We need a couple of weeks of hot, sunny August days. But I've got friends who've been mandatorily evac'd in Fort Bend County yesterday on a half dozen hours' notice, carrying only what they could grab and tote with them as they were relocated. Their house is now flooded, and will remain flooded for at least a month in the best-case scenarios. That's just a sucker-punch.

Saying that this is understandable is not the same thing at all as saying I, or anyone, could have exactly predicted it. This is all about the chaos, and Mother Nature is just laughing her pretty head off at us as she does this dance, she's not following anyone's choreography but her own.

(5) Beldar made the following comment | Aug 30, 2017 7:12:20 AM | Permalink

Oh, also re your friends in The Woodlands, DRJ:

Folks in Montgomery County and northern Harris County are likewise going to be seeing unprecedented emergency releases from Lake Conroe and, IIRC, Lake Houston, which might either create, or combine with other conditions to create, unforeseen and unprecedented flooding locations in those places. My hunch is that's less likely, but I'm prepared to be surprised, and I'm less knowledgeable about those areas.

(6) mg made the following comment | Aug 30, 2017 6:54:45 PM | Permalink

toss in a 30 mph wind with those hot sunny days

(7) SPQR made the following comment | Aug 30, 2017 7:18:37 PM | Permalink

Glad to hear you are well, friend.

(8) Les made the following comment | Aug 30, 2017 7:23:01 PM | Permalink

Glad you're safe.
I grew up in Houston, on Wilcrest just about two blocks south of I-10, out on what was, back then, the western edge of town. I think just about everybody in that area was aware, even then, that Addicks Dam was a disaster waiting to happen. I recall hearing a lot of conversations about the dangers of building subdivisions in the flood plain.
The folks in Houston and thereabouts have my every sympathy. All it takes is a good rain, and flooding begins. Harvey seems like the worst case possible.

(9) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Aug 30, 2017 7:31:50 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: If it takes a hurricane to get BeldarBlog back on track, I, and the rest of your readers will soon be petitioning for The End of the World...Glad to know you have made it OK so far, and will retreat back to the sidelines. You have enough on your plate.

Good luck.

(10) sennacherib made the following comment | Aug 30, 2017 8:03:07 PM | Permalink

First time here, looks good. Very glad you got through okay. I'm a little up northwest of you and I'm fine, hope to help if I can.

(11) RosalindJ made the following comment | Aug 30, 2017 9:08:08 PM | Permalink

I have a friend in Wharton who was just evacuated about an hour ago. She had called for a water rescue, but was able to get the pickup out through two feet of water. The Colorado river crested and backflow to tributaries on either side of has put over 2 feet of water in the house. All the best to all of you. It's a hell of a thing. I was down there for Katrina/Rita.

(12) Bill M made the following comment | Aug 31, 2017 12:08:17 AM | Permalink

Glad to see you back on-line, even if only for a limited time. please consider coming back more often. I've kept your blog on my list hoping you would take up the 'pen' again. So very glad to hear that you and yours are well.

(13) Bill M made the following comment | Aug 31, 2017 12:45:26 AM | Permalink

Just finished reading through your posts (for those who are giving it a try, navigate to the following posts using the choices at the top of the post once you are on the first one).
I highly recommend spending a few minutes to read all of them.

Anyway, your commentary reinforced my belief that the national media, while concentrating as they should on the severity, have done a major disservice to the news-watching/reading public about the overall situation. If one were to just listen to the news reports and believe them, Houston has just about been washed away. The reality appears to be that areas, especially around the bayous and river have certainly been severely affected. I had heard nothing, however, indicating that the flooding was somewhat localized. Imagine my surprise when I read earlier today, that in the main, electrical power remained on, verified by our man on the scene, Beldar. And loss of life has been relatively low. Each life is important and for the families, the losses are devastating - after all, All Lives Matter. But on the bright side, the losses in this storm are a couple of levels of magnitude lower than Katrina. And Texans are showing the right way to respond. Notice that no Hollyweird celebs are wandering around, trying to show how macho they are (Sean Penn, I'm looking at you). I suspect celebs know that Texans wouldn't cotton to that.

Stay safe (and dry) Beldar.

(14) baldilocks made the following comment | Aug 31, 2017 6:40:52 AM | Permalink

Stay safe, Beldar.

(15) DRJ made the following comment | Sep 3, 2017 4:29:37 PM | Permalink

Great commdnt, Beldar. Thank you. That makes sense.

So it seems to me that the flooding at the refineries was unavoidable hut they are getting back online about as soon as we could hope for. It also seems the Addicks/Barker release and flooding is just bad luck. Maybe we can do more to address it in the future but expecting people to anticipate and avoid it in this case is asking too much.

The one thing I hope Houston addresses first and foremost is the Medical Center flooding. It has become a flood-prone area and, like the refineries, it is critical not just yo Houston but to Texas and much of the Southwest. IMO it would be worth investing State funds to try to fix it.

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