A Comment on Hurricane Harvey Responsibility

Guest essay by Rud Istvan

This (possible) guest post is a result of watching the MSM commentary on Hurricane Harvey in SE Texas (Houston), and the buildup to possible Cat 4-5 Irma. (Note, which we are watching carefully, since live east of the Intercoastal directly on the Atlantic in Fort Lauderdale, with the ocean preternaturally calm and hot for this time of year.) We chose to live here, and should ourselves pay the local price if Irma comes. Hence this philosophical guest post.

Highly relevant side fact comment: We are not stupid, yet did not buy Federal Flood Insurance. We live on the 12th floor of a 27 floor concrete and steel condo building built to post Andrew hurricane standards in 1998. Steel reinforced concrete footings 80 feet down into ‘bedrock’ every ~ 10 feet (spacing is parking garage determined). Our balcony sliding glass/aluminum doors are cat 5 proof (the standard being a 2×4 flung at 150 mph), entailing double 1/8 inch safety glass (nitrogen sealed) set in ¼ in thick aluminum frames with 3 inch rain sills, double bolted every 18 inches into 8 inch steel reinforced concrete. Not light or cheap (even though Wilma did overtop the sills a bit requiring some mop up with towels that terrifying night). The building ‘ground floor’ which is the lowest parking level is purpose built ~10 feet above mean high tide (MHT) behind artificial sand dunes planted in sea oats and sea grapes (against wave erosion), and equipped with emergency generator powered flood drain pumps. In a hurricane approach, all lowest parking deck vehicles are relocated to the second of three parking decks, 20 feet above MHT (like the building lobby entrance) to accommodate storm surge. And, all the entrances from the lowest parking garage level to those elevators are purpose built like concrete/steel/gasket Navy ship seal doors. So heavy, they require electric motors to open and close. (And all elevator mechanisms are at the building top, not the bottom, and double conduited and sealed.) All the emergency services like nat gas standby generators to operate elevators and hall lighting are located on the second “land” floor” above 20 feet of storm surge (and tested for one hour every other day). Cheap, no. Safe, yes. As Wilma more or less proved in 2005 when we rode her out. Building was fine. Surroundings were not. Weeks of misery. Should probably have evacuated. Will next Cat greater than 2.

So it seems to me that there are three levels of responsibility to natural disasters—whether weather or ‘climate’. The first level is implied by E Pluribus Unum (read the motto on all US coinage). AKA the United States of America. We are a Union of States with very different circumstances, committed to constitutionally providing a united minimum response anywhere including military and legal. OK, per Constitution Preamble. That means New England is threatened by winter blizzards, the Gulf and SE Coasts by fall hurricanes, the Mississippi Valley by spring melts, and the West Coasts by earthquakes at any time whatsoever. Deal. We will help you if you help us. The differences and randomness almost guarantees this ‘macrodeal’ is ‘fair’. Nobody can know otherwise. God Bless America.

But then there is a second, more local/regional level of mutual responsibility. New Englander’s should pay for standby snowplows that have no utility in Los Angeles. Affected Californians should pay for earthquake resistant buildings that have no utility in New England. With respect to Harvey, why is the rest of the country being asked to pay for housing damage in suburban tracts that were build in designated flood plains when the Army Corps of Engineers finally was required to build Addicks and Barker dry reservoirs feeding Buffalo Bayou? Why is this not a Houston local responsibility? Tragedy, yes. Avoidable by responsible local adaptation, also yes. And little to do with E Pluribus Unum.

But then there is a third level personal responsibility. Per current main steam media (MSM), only 20% of those who bought overbuilt homes in known since 1930’s metropolitan Houston flood plains bought national federal flood insurance from the now bankrupt Federal Flood Insurance Program (bankrupt because of the preceding paragraph and ongoing stupidity). And we at hurricane risk in Fort Lauderdale, after having paid much privately for personal hurricane security, are being asked to also pay for this Houston nonsense because the results are so sad. No. The results were locally and self determined. Houston violated our E Pluribus Unum bargain. There should be no free pity rides.

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160 thoughts on “A Comment on Hurricane Harvey Responsibility

  1. Yes, it would be fair to require insurance on anything built in a flood plain, priced at a realistic level. Or require code standards to withstand a 1% flood.

    • Yes, it would be fair to require insurance on anything built in a flood plain, priced at a realistic level. Or require code standards to withstand a 1% flood.

      It would be fair that people who don’t insure, pay their losses! It is just important people know the risk and that an insurance is available.

    • People are required to carry extra flood insurance in flood zones.
      Loans are not availableveithout knowing and disclosing flood risks.
      This insulting, smug and deceptive essay is so wrong on so many levels as to bogglenthe mind.

      • Hunter,

        Yes, people who live in designated or “high risk” flood zones are forced to purchase flood insurance. But those who do NOT live in those areas are not required to, and most of them did not purchase it.

        But let’s point out to Ristvan:

        Forbes Magazine-5 days ago
        According to longstanding U.S. disaster relief policy, homeowners get almost no federal relief for reconstruction. This was made painfully clear after Katrina, when much of the destruction was not covered by insurance. Many Louisiana homeowners, especially among the poor, were unable to rebuild and abandoned their properties.”

        “The same will be true in Texas. Homeowners will have to bear their own losses because the great majority of them did not buy flood insurance. Despite living in the projected path of storms, most Houston area residents failed to add flood coverage to their property insurance policies.”

      • Well, I have bought flood insurance for well over twenty years and still have not had a claim. We were fortunate in that Harvey did not flood our house, just the street and part of the front yard. My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes. Or who (like my son’s house near Rockport} just suffered major damage that is repairable. This is a time for Texans to pull together.

      • Aphan,
        Most people who live near the San Andreas fault don’t purchase Earthquake insurance.
        So do we get to have some sanctimonious essay about how it’s their fault and they have to carry on alone after the big one?
        FEMA, the Harris County Flood Control District, and the City of Houston messed up.
        Hearing from my fellow skeptics about how it is the fault of those who did not buy flood insurance who were not required to is not only wrong on the facts and wrong headed, it is disheartening and infuriating.

      • I live on a fault line. It hasn’t ever really shaken, but the experts tell us that when it does…its going to be BAD. We do not have earthquake insurance. We accept the risk of not having it. We don’t expect anyone to rebuild our home if the big one happens.

        Now…if the fault line I live on gave me a good jolt every year or so, and I saw it affect neighborhoods around me over and over again…I WOULD BUY EARTHQUAKE INSURANCE. I’m no rocket scientist, but I’m smart enough to see cause and effect clearly.

        I’m also smart enough to know that natural disasters don’t obey a set of rules or standards set up by humans. NOTHING makes a future flood run in the exact same course that past ones did. Living NEAR a flood zone does not exempt me from flooding. Heck, I don’t live anywhere near a “flood plain” but if the dam about 40 miles from here goes, there’s going to be one hellofa new “flood plain” everywhere around me.

        If that dam ruptured every year, or every five years, or locals talked about the yearly “dam flood season”, you get your sweet testy cheeks I’d have “dam flood” insurance…but MOVING THE CRAP AWAY would be my first choice. And FIRING the entire city council, mayor, and state government leaders unless they fixed the dam would become my daily mission if for some unimaginable reason I could NOT move.

        All that said, expecting anyone else, to pay to rebuild my house, if I CHOSE not to insure it, would never cross my mind. No one OWES me or my family that.

      • The first time I visited New Orleans (approximately 30 years ago) I drove through a subdivision under construction with the thought of buying a home. It appeared a single builder was developing the property as all of the houses were being built at ground level on concrete slabs. When I reached the back of the development, I parked at the base of a low hill and climbed up to get a better look. When I reached the top, I was dumbfounded to discover the hill was a levee with the water level behind it about 8′ above the concrete slabs. This was in mid summer and the water level was considered normal for that time of year.

        I don’t believe FEMA or local building codes allow this anymore (nor should they). Rud Istvan is right to point out this kind of local stupidity and/or corruption and I agree that taxpayers should not have to bail homeowners out of these types of situations more than once.

      • “hunter September 4, 2017 at 7:32 am
        People are required to carry extra flood insurance in flood zones.
        Loans are not availableveithout knowing and disclosing flood risks.
        This insulting, smug and deceptive essay is so wrong on so many levels as to bogglenthe mind.”

        Complete misinformation.

        People are not ‘required’ to buy flood insurance.
        Flood insurance is a Federal program and scaled to risk and property value. Paying for “extra insurance” will avail nothing. The Feds pay off based on your insured risk levels and actual insured property value. Overpay and you’ve given the Feds extra money without benefit.

        Regular insurance companies are loathe to issue “flood insurance” except at usurious levels.

        Loan issuers require loan applicants pay for flood insurance for any buildings/dwellings in flood plains.

        The same loan issuers are the ones who also require loan insurance, property insurance, thorough property, liens and ownership investigations.

        All of those requirements are bank and loan company requirements. Once loans are paid off, three is no requirement, except common sense, for flood & property loans.

        Far too many people finish paying off their house loans and immediately drop flood insurance coverage.
        Those who do experience floods after dropping their insurance are fond of emotionally stating “But, it’s never flooded before”.

        When floods on record are pointed out, these same people change their claim to it’s never flooded “them” before.

        I lived in one town that had a low lying flood plain neighborhood that flooded every few years. Yet long term residents often made the same “never flooded before” statements. The same occurred when I lived in New Orleans.

        Ristvan:
        East coast storms may destroy/damage coastal property, but large storms named or not are most known for floods.
        One of my many employments was cleaning up after Hurricane Agnes as a county worker.

        Hurricane Agnes was a real eye opener for many people. Agnes flooded small valleys with tiny streams into raging rivers. People living on the hillsides believing they lived well above floods were flooded. Buildings built closer to the streams went downstream as debris.
        An elder resident in the hill country remarked that “those rounded valley bottoms didn’t get that way without water”.

        This was after growing up seeing damage caused by hurricanes Hazel, Diane and Connie along various Pennsylvania rivers.

        Just a return to the hurricanes of the 1950s and 1960s would put snowflakes into comatose CO2 alarmism.
        Heck, just the hurricanes from the 1700s would inflict reality brain trauma.
        1703 – Virginia & New England
        1706 – New York & Connecticut
        1706 – Virginia offshore
        1713 – SC, NC, Virginia
        1716 – Massachusetts
        1717 – Alabama
        1724 – Maryland, Virginia, NC, SC, PA – two hurricanes hitting within days of each other.
        1727 – Rhode Island, CT, MA
        1728 – Carolinas
        1743 – Philly, Mass
        NB This 1743 hurricane disrupted Ben Franklin’s plans to observe a total eclipse. The same hurricane gave Franklin confirmation that storms are localized and travel across country.
        1747 – Virginia
        1747 – NC, Mass
        1748 – Virginia offshore
        1749 – NC, Virginia, Maryland
        NB This 1749 hurricane confirmed to Ben Franklin his storm hypothesis
        1750 – Carolina’s offshore
        1752 – South Carolina
        1752 – South & North Carolina
        1761 – Outer banks
        1761 – Rhode Island, Connecticut & Mass
        1766 – Virginia
        1767 – North Carolina, Virginia
        1767 – North Carolina
        1769 – North Carolina – north along the East Coast through NE
        1769 – NE Florida & South Carolina
        1770 – South Carolina
        1770 – Connecticut to Maine
        1772 – North Carolina
        1773 – Virginia
        1773 – Virginia
        1774 – Virginia
        1774 – Maryland
        1775 – Outer Banks, Virginia, Newfoundland
        1776 – Virginia
        1777 – Maryland
        1777 – Pennsylvania
        1778 – North Carolina, mid-Atlantic, New England coasts
        1778 – Massachusetts
        1779 – Atlantic coast
        NB 1780 is considered the deadliest hurricane season in recorded history.
        1782 – Central Atlantic coast – hammered a British fleet causing up to 3,500 deaths.
        1783 – North Carolina
        1783 – South & North Carolina, Virginia
        1783 – New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut
        1785 – Delaware
        1785 – Mid-Atlantic states
        1786 – Virginia
        1787 – Georgia, North Carolina
        1788 – mid-Atlantic states
        1789 – New Jersey, New England
        1794 – mid-Atlantic states
        1794 – mid-Atlantic states
        1795 – North Carolina, Virginia
        1795 – North Carolina, Virginia – These were ten days apart.
        1797 – North Carolina
        1797 – South Carolina

        Not imagination and all before CO2’s alleged deadly effect.

      • “Louis Hooffstetter September 4, 2017 at 6:43 pm

        The first time I visited New Orleans (approximately 30 years ago) I drove through a subdivision under construction with the thought of buying a home. It appeared a single builder was developing the property as all of the houses were being built at ground level on concrete slabs. When I reached the back of the development, I parked at the base of a low hill and climbed up to get a better look. When I reached the top, I was dumbfounded to discover the hill was a levee with the water level behind it about 8′ above the concrete slabs. This was in mid summer and the water level was considered normal for that time of year.”

        Sounds like the Mississippi River, one of the Bayous, drainage canals or possibly the Intracoastal. Lots of locations had similar dikes. The tallest hill in the New Orleans area is the bridge over the Intracoastal.

        I used to bring out of state visitors to Lake Pontchartrain, parking outside the flood walls; then walking over the dike to the Lake.
        There is a point when people realize they are eye level with Lake Pontchartrain as they are walking up the dike. Disconcerting.

        When the city had surveyors checking road settling along Canal Blvd the surveyors told me that my rear door was only 2 feet below sea level.

        When the sea wall failed during Hurricane Katrina it allowed in a flood surge eight to ten feet (2.4 to 3M) deep.
        The trouble with sea walls is that they keep water inside almost as well as they kept it out; especially when the pumps are out of commission.

        Work had moved me to another city by Katrina; but it was disheartening to learn my two foot below sea level door sill was flooded by 8-10 feet of hurricane surge.
        The new owners bulldozed that house and last I checked it is still an empty lot. A pity, it was a beautiful house and a terrific neighborhood.

  2. If it’s anything like where I am, I totally agree.
    We had “the flood” in 2013. The city was completely shocked at the flooding and the damage. But… for many decades we have been warned that the rivers need to be dredged and bermed, the areas that have historically flooded need some sort of mitigation, many houses that flood regularly should have never even been allowed to stand.
    Entire subdivisions were built on the flood plain, in direct contradiction to logic. In a nearby bedroom community they built hundreds of houses in an area that ALWAYS was flooded, with apparent disregard for the possibility of a repeat.
    Thousands of homes were seriously damaged, some destroyed, the downtown core was flooded with immense damage to power and communication infrastructure. And yet nobody seemed to care about the warnings.
    These same people who burned through the money and even went into debt to build bike lanes and “traffic calming” things to slow traffic into and out of the core were complaining about the lack of emergency access, and their fallback position was that this was “climate change”. It’s as if they can’t comprehend that the even greater flooding in the 1930s was going to happen again. We could still get a flood like that at any given year.

    Unfortunately, we as a society will pay for shortsightedness of those developers and city “planners” who seem oblivious to history. But there should be consequences.

    • What happens to Houston Underground when it floods? (am assuming you are talking about Houston)

      • Allan is correct, I was referring to Calgary.
        I’ve lived here my whole life, and every place I’ve ever lived which is 3 apartments and 5 houses was immune to flooding. Some of my earliest memories involve seeing people being flooded out of three particularly vulnerable neighborhoods, and yet people still want to live there. My current house is 110 feet above the river, with a ridge overlooking the flood plain which is almost a mile wide at this point. When I look over the ridge I see one complete subdivision (which was about 15′ from flooding in 2013) and another under construction that would be flooded in a repeat.

        The point I was making is that rather than dumping huge dollars into “recovery”, it is up to more local governments (state, county, city) to identify problem areas and NOT BUILD THERE… along with basic maintenance of waterways.

        I’ve been watching all of the footage I can find of Houston and I see massive areas that are insufficiently drained. It’s possible that at the time they were built they would have survived better, but as new areas are built they end up blocking that drainage.

        IF people really believed in the “climate change” boogeyman, it seems to me that they would follow their own advice and plan for worse weather. One of the reasons this is so annoying is that all they seem to want to do is collect money and assume “someone else” will make sacrifices.

        Also, I’ve been predicting here that when the hurricanes come back everyone will immediately scream “Climate Change” and somehow think that each one is the “worst ever in history”. It’s just not true.

    • @CodeTech: I used to live in Rapid City, SD. In response to the June 9-10, 1972 flash flood that killed 238 people; The City of Rapid City initiated several flood mitigation strategies. 1) They determined the boundaries of the 100 year flood plain (aka the floodway), 2)They banned all residential housing within the floodway or any overnight accommodations, 3) They redesigned bridges and the spillway of Canyon Lake Dam to prevent clogging by debris, 4) the floodway is now a series of parks, picnic grounds, bike paths and golf courses which will not be harmed by a similar event in the future, 5) Businesses could remain in the floodway provided they were either elevated above the elevation of the 100 year flood or protected by berms or levees. There is now a nearly 10 mi (16km) greenway through Rapid City that is enjoyed year-round by locals and tourists. This I believe is an example of what Rud Istvan calls local responsibility.

      • I was in RC when that happened. Pretty sure there was some federal money, but that was a long time ago. About 200 died in that major flash flood that occurred along Rapid Creek. Almost bought a house on Rapid Creek less than a year before that happened. Post-flood, went back to check: house still standing but high water mark was at the eaves.

      • Continued.
        You may also recall that the flood was not confined to Rapid City; the entire central Black Hills were inundated by a “super cell” that remained stationary for over an hour while it unloaded its rain into the rocky canyons that make up much of the Black Hills. My daughter’s future husband, then six years old, and his family were supposed to be camping in a campground near Hill City that fateful night. Fortunately for him and his family, some farm work needed to be finished before they could take off for the Black Hills. The campground they had planned to use was swept away for a torrent coming down those rocky canyons. The rains washed out multiple bridges and cut the roads leading into the Black Hills in multiple locations. I seem to recall that Spearfish Canyon, up in the northern Black Hills, was impassable for some time after that.

      • I too was in Rapid City at the time…graduate school at SDSM&T in geology…so viewed the flood through that lens. My apartment was 100 feet from Rapid Creek but was on the second floor so no damage although the ground level water level was 6 feet. And yes there was Federal assistance. It was (if I recollect properly) the first time that HUD provided $ to homeowners and businesses affected by flooding. It was a boon to he city and they (mostly) used the money wisely. As a renter, I too was eligible for assistance and I received a “renters subsidy” for the next two years. As you can imagine the damage from the flood removed considerable rental supply.

  3. I have read that in San Francisco (and it may be true) that only 15% have earthquake insurance. The insurance companies know that someday the “big one” will happen so they charge for the risk and the higher the risk, the higher the insurance premiums . People have made the decision to gamble on NOT having an earthquake while they are living there. When the “big one” comes they will whine about how they have lost everything and never mention that they CHOOSE to not have insurance. Then the government will take your money and give it to them. It is a wonder that we have to bear the burden of the risk they choose when they decided to live in San Francisco.

    It is like choosing to live in a known flood plain and not getting flood insurance. Except that flood insurance is greatly subsidized by the government. That’s why the flood insurance program is bankrupt. And again, the government transfers the cost of the risk those people choose to you.

    • It is the same in Italy. Almost nobody has earthquake insurance in one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.

      It’s so unusual that the onky insurance we could find for an Italian property was from Lloyds of London. Go figure…

      • California knew about the problem and created a state insurance company, California Earthquake Authority. It offers an affordable earthquake insurance, with a little catch – if we run out of money, we are not obliged to pay. A dream job if you are somebody’s nephew…

    • It is a wonder that we have to bear the burden of the risk they choose when they decided to live in San Francisco.

      Well, that is the awful part. I think people who want government to help out uninsured building rebuilt, should receive that, but the building built by the government would be owned by the government, thus you pay rent for it until you purchase it.

      • Loan if the can get that. I think many that democrats think are too poor to get a loan. The government may loan them money, not a good idea, it may just give away, not good, ‘confiscate’ the property, happens at some places omg, or just help people out to rebuild. I think the last option is the best.

    • And everyone knows the Missouri fault that can snap at any time, strong enough to temporarily run the Mississippi river backwards.
      Well those folks don’t deserve help when the inevitable happens either.
      Ristvan has opened a whole new way if dealing with national disasters:
      Pick and choose!
      How appropriate from a guy who literally lives above it all on the 27th floor.

      • “How appropriate from a guy who literally lives above it all on the 27th floor.” Wow, little fella, you sure are filled with envy and anger. Perhaps you should direct a bit of that towards the government officials and building industry bigwigs you are so merrily defending.

      • Little fella?
        You effin’ tool.
        An arrogant smug putz literally pisses down with an ignorant counter factual post writing off the suffering of 4,000,000+ people and you call complaining about his piss “envy”?
        You are a skeptic by accident, not by thought or care- you are clearly incapable of either.
        Kiss off.

      • Yeah he’s a lawyer who actually wrote a book about climate change. How it was real, and how “sciency” it all was.

        It was only years later someone pointed out to him that insulation in a bath cant block light to things in the bath and warm them. Violation of Conservation of Energy is a rough thig to find out about, late.

        I guess better late than never though lol.

        Rud is pretty sad as a human being in my opinion.

      • And optional. I live near a fault line. I don’t pay for earthquake insurance. It’s my CHOICE. And if my house gets destroyed by an Earthquake, I won’t be expecting anyone else to pay to rebuild it. Why would I??

      • Insurance is just that, insurance. It is only necessary to buy ANY if you cannot afford the loss from any particular hazard or event. If you CAN afford to ‘self insure’ you don’t need it and are therefore out of the market. Those who DO buy insurance are essentially pooling their money for use by the few (hopefully) who actually incur losses more that the deductible amount and less than the insured limit. The Insurance company (ies) are hired for their expertise in distributing the risks.

  4. Wow. Stick it to the poor, who tend to live in homes not bullet proof and on the flood plain. It’s their fault, ya know. “E Pluribus Unum” up yours.

      • Indeed, the poor loose housing but they do not a loose a house because they do not own one. They are not required to buy insurance against something they will not loose. They may look at contents insurance.

        I have commented several times on the pathetic construction standards in much of what is shown of the disaster area. Basically throw-away, cleanex houses : one blow and they are a crumpled mess.

        This must be linked to subprime loans. They are subprime housing stock. Cheap junk houses built to unsuitable standards in unsuitable zones in order to provide a market for loans to people who can not afford to buy a house built to standards appropriate to the region and its risks.

        Clearly Texas state is responsible for blatantly ignoring federal building standards to promote credit and development locally. Like the 2008 crash , the rest of taxpaying population is now expected to pick up the bill for this reckless risk taking for short term profit.

      • oh, it’s the ‘po folk fallacy’ again.
        what about the dead babbies?
        oh, hey- those victimhood cards are not even yours! why are you stealing the last thing they have that can be traded for valuable commodities?

      • Same here, Mike.
        Let’s see how many of the great Americans pontificating here would be high and dry after a storm dumps more than a year’s worth of rain in about 36 hours.
        By the way many of the homes flooded were either decades old, and had been through many heavy weather events,
        Or were built to modem code.
        Calling them “Kleenex houses” is really ignorant.
        Perhaps this site would be better off focusing on the climate scam, and less time allowing ignorant nouveau riche smug creeps living in the 27th floor pontificate about how smart they are and how stupid people who just went through Harvey are.

    • The post is plainly saying that local governments and individual purchasers do have responsibility and that some federal programs enable irresponsible building and purchase choices.

      All can give to the victims of weather tragedy regardless of responsibility, but to prevent or limit repeat tragedy, responsibility is required!

      • Come drive through any neighborhood in Houston or the other impacted areas right now, see what is going on and let’s see if you can honestly say we are irresponsible.

    • “Wow. Stick it to the poor, who tend to live in homes not bullet proof and on the flood plain. It’s their fault, ya know. “E Pluribus Unum” up yours.”

      If poor and own a house on flood plain and can’t afford flood insurance, it would seem that one of your highest priorities would be to vote for politicians who will do something to protect the houses on the flood plains.
      But it seems to me if you are poor, you probably have mortgage on the house, and so why would lender provide loans on houses in on flood plain without insurance for flooding?

      Or only public value of insurance of anything, is you got interested third party who is betting something doesn’t happen and will do things which could prevent something from happening- for example, with fire insurance making sure house as proper wiring and smoke detectors before insuring it.
      Though if government involved, you are less likely to get the work of preventing something to happen as it’s not their money at risk.

      But it seems the fed is going to step in because it’s like the bank bail out.
      And If a house is insured and every other house around is abandoned or left unrepaired, the fixed up house has less value
      So advantage is of govt doing something is that there is value in quickly restoring a blighted area- but then you got issue of whether a government can move quickly rather than at some glacial pace.

      Anyways, in terms of Houston, success will be if there is political discussion about doing stuff which which prevent future damage from future floods, and the voter deciding what should be done.
      But If the politics is mostly about what statue to tear down or not, I think it will be a huge waste of money.

      • If poor and own a house on flood plain ..

        Well it matters what you call “poor”. If you are “poor” because you over-extended yourself by buying a house that you should not have bought you will be “poor”.

        If they also chose to ignore the fact that it was a wooden box in a hurricane risk zone on a flood plane, how much sympathy can they expect from everyone else.

      • Unfortunately, there are legions intellectually impaired individuals who are demanding thousands of windmills and massive acreages of solar to prevent hurricanes from even occurring.

      • I say then to fully offset the risk we in the Houston region deal with, that we add surcharges to oil, gas, plastics, minerals, petrochemicals and fertilizers we produce for the rest of the nation.
        And that we hold back the delivery until we get paid.
        That is at least as compassionate as what many posters here are suggesting.

      • “I say then to fully offset the risk we in the Houston region deal with, that we add surcharges to oil, gas, plastics, minerals, petrochemicals and fertilizers we produce for the rest of the nation.
        And that we hold back the delivery until we get paid.”

        Hummmmmm….I’ll bet the oil companies in Houston actually DO carry disaster insurance and work the cost of it into gas prices. They know the risks, and trust me, the customers PAY for them to cover that risk. But the citizens of Houston don’t own the oil companies, and you aren’t liable for them if there is a disaster. THEY are. And they PLAN ahead.

        INSURANCE POLICIES are exactly what DOES “offset the risk” of living anywhere one chooses to live!!! But apparently, for some reason, 80% of residents in the storms path chose NOT to offset their risks!! There’s no way to know WHY each homeowner chose not to. Unaware…then go after those whose job it was to MAKE SURE people were aware. Can’t afford it?? Then go after those who determine the costs of the insurance!! The US Federal Government offered lower cost flood insurance through FEMA…paid for by ALL tax payers. But Houston residents either did not KNOW about it (go after FEMA) or DID know and IGNORED it.

        If you and other Houston residents want to offset the risk of living there, it’s up to YOU to make sure that happens PERSONALLY FIRST. Then work on offsetting the risks to your neighborhoods, towns, counties through your elected officials and laws and regulations.

        I build a house that straddles a set of train tracks, and the train that runs along those tracks only runs occasionally BUT it has been known to pretty much destroy everything in its path. I don’t take out the train insurance that would “offset my risk”. The train comes and destroys my home. Now I think you should pay for me to REBUILD another house in the same place.

    • It’s their fault, ya know.

      Stupidity might not be their fault, but it is not my fault either.

      It is funny how some people think government should protect you from your own stupidity by confiscating more money from those who are not as stupid. You have cheap homes there, enjoy that. If you want socialism, you’re welcome to the Nordic countries where government confiscates 40% of your income directly and 20% of the rest indirectly. The stupid don’t live a shack, right, but most working people don’t live any better even they work.

    • After decades of actually being poor; I find it astonishing that people have such absurd assumptions reallynotskeptical.

      It only takes a lick of common sense to recognize renting/buying homes in a flood zone; or any of the “act of god” disaster categories is stupid.

      Looking for a new apartment, does one choose:
      • A) an apartment on the ground floor of a complex bordering a river?
      NB: The apartment complex manager denied flatly that the apartment ever flooded. Yet I could feel that the walls were still damp from the recent flood.
      • B) a cheap cottage on a hillside where one can see cracks forming along the hillside?
      NB: In this case, the “hillside” was built when major construction used the site as their waste dump, decades before. The hill lay fallow, grew over with brush and trees; then all trees and brush were cut down for house construction.

      On and on, the choices are there. One chooses one’s own poisons.
      A shocking truth that many of today’s coddled urbanites and suburbanites ignore. Blame everything on someone else or blame the government. Force the government, representing everyone in the area, to be responsible for bad choices, bad decisions, unscrupulous profiteers.

      Yes, those dwellings were visited by myself when I needed a new home. No matter how desperately I needed a residence, I bypassed the ones in ridiculous locations in favor less appealing apartments in common sense locations.

      Instead, propose a socialist’s dream. Scupper and sink rational thinking, common sense, individual effort, individual accomplishments and personal responsibility. Foster and support the bad decisions of a few so that everyone suffers

      When questioned, “pity the poor!” as if that is a salve or solution for anything.

      Is it any surprise reallynotskeptical is a trollop supporting climate change alarmism and socialism?

      Referenced above is building standards based upon hurricane Camille. An investigator who arrived in Mississippi a couple of days after Camille made landfall, described the situation as the wreckage of a two hundred mile wide tornado.

      Hurricane Camille wiped a new building complex, “Richelieu Apartments” in Pass Christian, Miss., down to the concrete slab.

      Years afterwards, a shopping center was built upon the same location; Henderson Avenue on U.S. Highway 90.
      Hurricane Katrina destroyed that structure.

      Rud lives in a building supposedly built to withstand hurricane Camille standards. Standards based upon estimates and wreckage.

      Hurricane Andrew eliminated Homestead leaving a landscape that unsurprisingly looks like the wreckage of an immense tornado.

      All too often, man makes assumptions only to discover their error when the next Mother Nature event wrecks all assumptions.

  5. Mr. Istvan, your condo apparently has survived the test of Wilma. Have you read John D. MacDonald’s novel Condominium? An interesting read about shoddy building practices in the Florida Keys.

    • I particularly like the part about how quickky and how badly high rise foundations can be undermined.
      And also how small failures in roofing can funnel water into interior floors of a high rise and the water can’t get out because the building is essentially layers of well sealed boxes.
      But Istvan should know all this as someone who bought 27 floors up, so if his condo fills up, he can practice growing gills.
      And if a power outage leaves him stranded 27 floors up he can use the exercise, since he knew about the height.
      And if a fire traps him on the 27th floor and toxic fumes from the high-tech wind protection endangers him, well he knew the risks and the fire department can go deal with other problems.

  6. You sure ain’t gonna win no freakin’ popularity contests, Bubba! How dare you make perfect sense?

    (“What part of ‘floodplain’ escaped your comprehension?”)

    • That’s true Phillips. It’s about time people started to build their own roads, schools and flood defences if they need them. And don’t talk to me about police and defence, it’s all socialism eh? Everyone for themselves and devil take the hindmost !

      • like they did in the good old days, eh, youngun? in the days before your special snowflake education on sesame street. welcome to avenue Q.

      • Gare: That is one of the yes-no approaches that makes things seem to be simple. Consider: There are some things that government can do well. Roads, sure. Schools? Depends. Flood defenses? Well, here in Houston it is like trying to drain a table top. With only about forty feet down to sea level. We can handle only so much rain per hour. And that includes areas upstream of us on the Colorado, Brazos and Trinity rivers. And Buffalo Bayou, Horse Pen Bayou (near my home), White Oak bayou, etc etc. Digging retention ponds helped my area, I am sure, but it would take a lake the size of Delaware and fifty feet deep to protect most of Houston. Face it: We are flood prone. Where I used to live in Meyerland they have flooded the last three years. Either take the risk, and insure it if you can, or move to a mountain top somewhere.

  7. A little too easy to blame the houseowner for building in floodplains…

    In my country, we have the same problem: building was allowed in (former) floodplains, because of the collaboration between building companies and local governments, as both made a lot of money selling cheap ground and houses to people which were happy for the low price. Nobody told them that the houses were build in floodplains…

    Every now and then, these houses were flooded and most had no insurance for flooding. Thus that is the fault of the house owner? Not at all, it is the fault of the local governments which allowed building in floodplains to start with and not inform the buyers about the risk.

    After a few such disasters, the federal government decided to add flooding to the obliged fire insurance for every houseowner and forbids any new building in floodplains.
    As the insurance is distributed over all inhabitants of the country, that is a small extra. If you only imply flooding insurance to houses vulnerable of flooding, the premiums will be sky high and only the most fortunate will/can pay for that,

    • If it is accurate that there was no way of knowing it was a flood plane you have a point. It is far more likely that they did know.

      I have friend who bought a plot of land marked as floodable and spent years setting up a mobile home and developing the plot. Then an unusual storm hit and he lost everything. Sad but stupid.

      My father bough a property on the east coast of the UK, that is in a flood zone. Cool. I advised against it but he would not listen. Just a matter of time ….

    • Ferdenand, this was my post above…

      The post is plainly saying that local governments and individual purchasers do have responsibility and that some federal programs enable irresponsible building and purchase choices.

      All can give to the victims of weather tragedy regardless of responsibility, but to prevent or limit repeat tragedy, responsibility is required!
      —‘———-

      What you suggest is half way to a solution, not allowing building in such a circumstance, or, for example, requiring a code that allows the structure to withstand most earthquakes.

      However you have enabled repeat disasters in existing foolish locations. You say the cost is affordable if we just socialize the problem. Where does that philosophy end? At 20 trillion US debt, plus many more trillions in unfunded liabilities, broke pension plans, ( public and private) hundreds of billions in student loans that won’t be repaid, millions of children born out of wedlock,
      financial collapse? Many similar tales in the EU, where, also in the name of compassion, millions of ” refugees” are brought in with no thought to their impact.
      Which in the case of Islam, as taught and legally applied, severe conflict is unavoidable, harmony is not possible.

      Where does personal responsibility fit into this? Where does local government responsibility fit in? The US debt collapse and subsequent bailout has only enabled the patient to create worse addiction, debt. Pain is a prod to memory. If every solution is ” the government” creating a no fault solution, then there is nothing learned until the entire system is overwhelmed.

  8. After the recent Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in London, there was a lot of squawking in the press about the difficulties survivors were having in getting alternative accomodation. The view seemed to be that it was “the government’s” responsibility to provide it. When I suggested that people ought to have been carrying insurance that would cover this in the event of their home becoming uninhabitable, I was rounded on fairly swiftly. I made the mistake of then asking what had happened to personal responsibility.
    End of conversation.

    • I’m not sure the metaphorical beat down you received was entirely without merit. Grenfell Tower was council housing. People living there already can’t afford their own private market accommodations. As the landlord was responsible for the exigent circumstances (installing flammable cladding) leading to their homelessness, the council bears primary responsibility to remedy same.

  9. Very clearly written and well reasoned post Rudy, much like your collection of essay, “Blowing Smoke” which I am currently enjoying. Home owners generally trust the officials from the jurisdiction in which they live. If I hadn’t actually had the experience of seeing houses being regularly flooded during several years of spring runoff after the heavy snow years in the seventies, I never would have believed houses would have been allowed to be built where they were, in such obviously risky locations. It is natural to believe city/town/county officials would restrict such activity.

    A possible solution would be to require potential purchasers to be informed of risks. An obvious one would be requiring anyone contemplating the purchase of a home in a flood plain to be informed of it’s location and told of the last 2 or 3 times it was actually flooded. Same deal for hurricane impact, storm surge etch. This could obviously turn into a bureaucratic boondoggle, but I don’t know if it is reasonable to expect people moving to a new area to even know how to find out if their house is at risk or not. Could be an opportunity here for a new service industry, home risk determination.

    • yeah, because due diligence is always somebody else’s responsibility?

      tell everyone you own it’s their job to pamper you and wipe up after you screw the pooch.
      just be sure to say it’s their job cuz you said so.

    • Your “possible solution” is already a requirement and in use. Flood zone determinations are required for mortgage loans. Flood insurance is now required to be collected along with the mortgage as too many were not paying the premiums and the mortgage holder was left holding the bag if the property was flooded. Cuyrrent flood zone maps are easily accessible on government website. FEMA just reissued new flood zone maps in my part of Florida. Many properties were rezoned AE and some were rezoned X. I was rezoned X because a small lake at the end of my street was filled in many years ago to make a public park but the flood zone was never changed. I have been paying unnecessary flood insurance for 15 years but that is what I had to do if I wanted a mortgage. Recent heavy rains here in Sarasota County have proven once again that I should have never been in an AE zone. Today my property still remains high and dry.

      BTW, properties with a flood loss history, regardless of ownership, can become ineligible for future flood insurance coverage.

      But I will say again, local government charters require them to use zoning regulations to make “highest and best” use of land. This increases the local property tax base and provides adequate money to run the government while keeping those property taxes at a reasonable level for everyone. So Rud, if all the land areas that have had flooding issues were declared unacceptable for building who do you think has to make up those property tax losses? The National Flood Insurance Program authorization ends Sep 30 2017. In about 26 days, if Congress does not reauthorize it, there will be no new flood insurance issued. According to NAR (National Association of REALTORS), each month about 40,000 properties nationwide will not be able to get new mortgages. Try to figure out how much that will cost. It is a huge blow to the economy. You see, we can pay one way or the other, but understand we are all going to pay.

      • “Your “possible solution” is already a requirement and in use…” Yes and no. As you and Rud point out, building codes have been upgraded to insure new structures are hurricane resistant and there are requirements for insurance, but…

        After Hurricane Katrina FEMA issued new flood maps put most of New Orleans and much of south Louisiana in “High Risk” zones that require homeowners to carry federal flood insurance. But after local residents caterwalled to their elected representatives, that changed overnight. Half of New Orleans and huge areas of south Louisiana were rezoned back out of the high risk zones: http://www.npr.org/2016/09/30/495794999/new-maps-label-much-of-new-orleans-out-of-flood-hazard-area.

        As I write this, the flooded homes in Houston are being restored to the exact same building codes and regulations that allowed them to be built at ground level on a floodplain in the firs place. They aren’t being raised above the local flood elevation or upgraded to new building codes that would mitigate future flooding. And to my knowledge none will be purchased by FEMA and razed because they were built in places where homes simply should not be built. I predict that after a few years without flooding, most of these homeowners will again drop their flood insurance despite the fact that another flood is inevitable. And when it comes, taxpayers will be on the hook again to bail these homeowners out.

        Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

  10. Yep, lack of personal responsibility and initiative. And the press jumps into it screeching about how it is the responsibility of “government” to “fix” it. OK, “government” should, by decreeing that all new construction in flood prone regions be appropriate to flood levels in the specific area that construction is being done or no building permits issued. Wow, simple, direct, effective and not costly to the tax payers. Why has this not already been done? coughcoughlawyerscough

    I have family in south Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Guess what? For the most part they all take flood risk into account, of course, in any large group there are those who do the wrong thing, for whatever reason. One brother has built a house on the Pearl River. On the Pearl River. You can jump off his deck into the river right beside his two work boats. He built on a section of embankment which has only flooded once in 50 years, after Katrina. House is on concrete pillars 15 feet above that ground level, the acreage upstream of his property is heavily forested and they pay their own flood insurance. He and his wife are taking actions to mitigate their risk, and not only do they not expect “government” to bail them out they are 2 of the people who will be helping others when flooding comes(He just got home from Houston on Friday).

    Personal responsibility and initiative. These are the things lacking in mitigation of and relief after natural disasters in America today. And thus endeth the rant.

  11. Just look at a map. It’s not south east Texas! It’s east central Texas! It’s over a 4 hour drive from Houston to Harlingen.

    • Dick,
      The Houston region has always been called Southeast Texas.
      And it always will. Houston is in the Southern part of the East of Texas.

  12. It matters greatly how the initial response is carried out. Lives matter.

    The different responses to hurricane Katrina and Harvey.

    The hurricane Katrina was our costliest hurricane this far. Not the deadliest, that was the 1900 Galveston hurricane that killed 6 to 12,000 people. At that time it had passed through the Florida Strait as a tropical storm, so the Galveston people didn’t take it seriously, after all they had an 8 foot seawall. It entered as a category 4 hurricane, the storm surge was 15 feet, topped the seawall and wiped out the city like a tsunami.

    I have always been fascinated by hurricanes, the enormous energy they disperse and how beautiful they appear from space. So it was on Aug 27, 2005 that I watched the press conference with the Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco reassuring the people “I believe we are prepared,” she said in Jefferson Parish. “That’s the one thing that I’ve always been able to brag about.”

    Though experts had warned it would take 48 hours to evacuate New Orleans, Blanco did not order a mandatory evacuation that Saturday.

    “We’re going to pray that the impact will soften,” she said.

    Later the same day in city Hall she is still trying to decide when or if to reverse flow on the highways, she has still no clue on how severe the situation is and refuses to hear the warnings from NHC that warned more or less that an unprecedented catastrophe is coming. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin agreed that he would take care of his people.

    The next day the hurricane had grown to category 5 and everybody that could started to evacuate with or without an evacuation order, but it wasn’t until 20 hours before landfall that she ordered mandatory evacuation and reversed direction on all the exit highways. Everybody that could evacuate had already started, so the coaches were picked up by the hotels to evacuate the tourists. The traffic jams were enormous since everybody tried to get out at the same time. They more or less knew the levies would be topped, but even then Mayor Nagin refused to use the school buses to evacuate. He claimed “My people will not be bused in school buses, they deserve coaches.

    The U.S. government begged repeatedly that the governor would call in the national guard, but she refused. The Federal government considered calling in the U.S. military, but decided against it, since it is against the law unless the governor authorizes it.

    It had landfall as a category 3 hurricane east of New Orleans so the major storm surge, 26 feet high, hit Mississippi and wiped out casinos and other structures at the coast, and hurricane winds affected an area the size of England. New Orleans was on the west side of the path, so New Orleans was spared an over topping of the levees. That is, until the next morning one levee gave way due to incorrect secured footing and New Orleans got flooded.

    FEMA was still busy cleaning up from earlier hurricanes, so new people needed to be hired or transferred to other department, but to work for FEMA you needed at least 3 days extra of sensitivity, so the FEMA paperwork got delayed another week.

    There was plenty of blame to go around, but President Bush is still getting blamed for it.

    Image result for hurricane Katrina

    Not so with Hurricane Harvey. It also grew very rapidly from a tropical disturbance to a major hurricane and was still growing at landfall as a category 4 hurricane. It looked like it was going to get inland fast and follow the normal path and rain out while moving rapidly, but instead it got blocked by two high pressures and decided to stall after rainfall, move back into the gulf, picking up more rain and then rain out over Houston and surrounding areas. The wind damage and storm surge was normal for a category 4 hurricane, but the staying in place for a long time made it the rainiest hurricane ever hitting the U.S. mainland, with some areas around Houston getting over 50 inches of rain.

    Yet the hurricane response has been nothing short of excellent. The Governor of Texas acted early in cooperation with the Federal Government to pre-stage national guard and supplies in conjunction with local government. But the thing that made the biggest difference has been the volunteer response from thousands of people with high clearance trucks and boats evacuating thousands of people. About he only thing going wrong was the mayor of Houston discouraging early evacuation when he knew the rains were going to be horrendous.

    It is going to be the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, but without the volunteer response and excellent cooperation between all levels of government it could have been so much worse.

    The American spirit is alive and well in Texas, as is the Trump leadership
    https://lenbilen.com/2017/09/03/the-different-response-to-hurricane-katrina-and-harvey/

    • “I believe we are prepared. That’s the one thing that I’ve always been able to brag about.” Well said. She brags about her belief. A good Democrat does not allow other people to brag about their beliefs.

    • I would not put much if any of the onus on the mayor of Houston for discouraging evacuation. There is limited egress from Houston, and after Katrina there was a follow up that looked like it would hit Houston and the I-45 as I recall became a 100 mile long parking lot. People died on the road, and Houston was fine. What have we been hearing as the major cause of deaths this go round? People trying to move about in the flood. Imagine all those people leaving their homes, stuck on the road, and the only high ground is the roof of your car when the floods come?

      • A good evacuation plan requires carpooling and uses all available buses and trains. Surely Houston must have such a plan to avoid deadly congestion.

      • @Gloateus;
        What it lacks is sufficient highway infrastructure to move those vehicles quickly enough, carpooling and buses notwithstanding. Trains? Pffft, not a trifle of the capacity you’d need.

      • @Jon Jewett;
        As a partisan, I relish the opportunity to dog-pile on members of a party who’s emblem is, appropriately, a jack-ass. In this case I decline. Sometimes “stay where you are” is a good emergency plan, if all you’re going to see is 6 feet of water in the house, assuming you have an upper level to retreat to. That may include your roof. Better than piling the great grand-kids in the van and getting recovered somewhere downstream. There are 60 confirmed fatalities in Texas as I write. Not all of them will be in Houston. Compare to the death toll in Louisiana of 1,577 or more.

  13. This morning’s GFS model for Hurricane Irma shows it going straight up Florida as a Cat5 and which puts the Keys and Miami dead on the dangerous eastern side of the eyewall, let alone the rest of the state. That is not going to be a good day. Hope something else happens.

  14. If this is where WUWT, where I have been a poster and financial backer for over 10 years us going, I am out of here.
    Some smug little toad preening about his condo ( and demonstrating he doesn’t understand squat at about flood insurance or high rise foundations) having the reactionary hubris to write the insulting crap he has written is amazing.
    To write it ahead if a possible Cat 5 [impact] is even more ignorant.
    Listen up, schlub:
    Every place is subject to dramatic forms of known risks.
    Even prideful pricks in high rise over hyped condos, who piss down on millions of people dealing with the impacts of believing highly educated engineers, politicians, insurance actuaries, etc.
    We paid our insurance as required, paid our taxes, built to codes.
    We were told the risks were being taken care of.
    We were told this by the [people we] voted for and hired to do the job.
    So if the ideal you are offering here is the new America, then we will price the oil, gas, plastics, and petrochemicals and other basics you rely on in at 27floors to stay cool, avoid the stairs, and eat drunk and sleep.
    Stick it, [pruned].

    • hunter,

      Seems indeed that some at WUWT still think that the Harvey disaster is the fault of the owners only. As a lot of petrochemical industry in the same area was flooded too, I am pretty sure that these factories did check the risk before building there near the harbor and decided it was manageable, as the last huge flood was some 80 years ago.
      As good as people and (local) government allowed building complete towns and several nuclear works near the Pacific Coast, with walls protecting them against a 6 m high tsunami, but were flooded with a once-in-1000-years 10 m high tsunami…

      If one doesn’t help these people because that is in someone’s opinion (even in part) their own fault, while they were compliant with all (local) government rules, that is the “each for themselves” mentality of the Far West, where no rules are accepted, because the individual stands above any government…

      • No censorship.
        Just the freedom to point out when even a good skeptic like Istvan is way off base and totally out of line.
        Which he is in this essay.
        And the smug hubris of thinking tgsyvsomehow his purchase of his condo means it is:
        Built the way he thinks it was built,
        Still in perfect condition to protect his 27th floor condo,
        And that it is adequate for all storms that could come his way,
        Even though he lives in an area that historically gets more and worse storms than Texas.
        And that means he gas the right to exclude us in Houston from the aid he and Florida would get (And got after Andrew). Or that California will get after the big quake finally hits, or that New Orleans got for a much more problematic flood.
        That is what ticked me off.
        He has no way to know if his condo, much less discretion, will actually be well defended from Irma or whatever storm finally hits as a “perfect storm”.
        To post the sort of uninformed reactionary gibberish he did a week after >4 million people are impacted by Harvey is childish and annoying.

      • Hunter, thanks. I live in California by choice. I know that the question for the big One is not if, but when. I don’t expect the Feds to come with full baskets of help and rebuild everything for me; I plan to live in an RV when the day comes (if I survive, of course). There are undoubtedly many people who would demand an up-to-date accommodation, and cry discrimination if they don’t get it.

        I have a friend who lost her house in the Oakland Hills firestorm of 1991. FEMA came in with much fanfare and offered a help to rebuild at $15 per square foot. The local construction cost at the time was $250/sqft. I wonder what FEMA offers in Houston.

    • Hunter: You should have emulated the guy who sent the telegram that read: “F*ck you. Strong letter follows.”
      Or, “My next post will state how I REALLY feel.”
      JimB

      • Yep.
        I like Rud Istvan- he is a good skeptic.
        But he is miles off base on this.
        I am disappointed he has not offered either defense of his factually incorrect post, or an apology.

      • It’s a guest essay. An opinion. He’s entitled to one just like everyone else. Without apologizing for it. There is no Antifa here to intimidate him into silence, and I highly doubt he’ll be manipulated by the oversensitivity of a total stranger.

      • No one wishes to silence Isvan. He has apparently declined to reply.
        I’d love to hear from him further regarding his ill conceived, counter factual, mean spirited essay.

    • Hunter, Rud’s not blaming you or your neighbors in Houston for this disaster. He’s simply pointing out that humans are prone to mistakes but slow to learn from them. No one has a problem helping neighbors recover from a disaster once or even twice, but repeated stupidity should not be rewarded.

  15. Several years ago I helped a homeowner remove flood damaged drywall and insulation four feet up the wall. You could see that in the past the drywall and insulation had been removed two feet up the wall. Some of life’s lessons are never learned.

    • Rich: Yeah. Many years ago my first wife (bless her in heaven) and I looked at a house we were interested in buying in the neighborhood of NASA. I noted that t he drywall had been replaced for about three feet.
      No thanks. We instead bought a house that had never flooded. But I think Harvey probably got that one. My present wife and I were thankfully high and relatively dry in the house my first beloved chose for us to build.
      We are very lucky.

    • Amd everyone does check.
      I perform that check for home buyers as part of my job.
      No one can get a home loan without checking.
      Realtors check for every sale.
      Again, pontificaton and condemnation of an entire region from the 27th floor of a luxury high rise with shallow ignorant assertions us not something thus website has typically indulged in.
      I have to go help my neighbors who are dealing the flood aftermath.
      Istvan, if he is any sort of man, should at the least temper, if not apologize, for his amazingly ignorant and uninformed arrogant post.

      • Hunter: Rud never said he lived on the the 27th floor. His building is 27 stories tall. He lives on the 12th floor. Now I will grant it is not likely that his windows will be hit by a flying 2X4 at that height, but it could happen.He chose to live there and took the responsibility to check the building out before he moved in. I find your name calling to be obnoxious.

      • hunter September 4, 2017 at 6:07 am

        “And everyone does check.
        I perform that check for home buyers as part of my job.
        No one can get a home loan without checking.
        Realtors check for every sale.”

        Absolutely correct. Of course if a buyer is ignorant and goes it alone without professional assistance from a REALTOR and an attorney or they don’t even go to the local government to do some research, then it does become their own fault.

      • You cannot get insurance without the Floed Zone Determination being run on the property.
        Every insurance agent with access to the NFIP system does it for professional liability if for no other reason.
        No one was unaware.
        Cash buyers, old owners with no mortgage, and possibly a few others can honestly say they were unaware of flood risk.
        But even that is doubtful, since flood risk has been a part of nearly every conversation in Houston for many years.
        People believed those collecting taxes and making speeches.

      • “People believed those collecting taxes and making speeches.”

        What did the people collecting taxes and making speeches say? That they could control the weather? That floods would only be allowed to flood insured homes? Did they say NOT to buy flood insurance??

        No one here views Harvey as less than a tragedy. MANY people here have friends and family in the Houston area, including ME. And my family there have watched hurricanes and floods come and go for DECADES. Most of them have flood insurance, and the few that don’t, do not expect the government to REBUILD for them.

      • @hunter
        What, no one pays off their mortgage in your parts? What then; what percentage promptly drop their flood coverage? I’m sorry; well, no I’m not, but I can’t see the morality of Uncle Sam reaching into my pocket to help out your neighbors who now suffer through ignorance, their own greed, or the incompetence of their elected officials. I live in NJ, my siblings live at the Shore and I wasn’t keen on all the money that Chris Christie and company were trying to beg out of the Feds. It’s still coming out of my pocket.

  16. One of the reasons people do not buy insurance of this, that, or the other kind, is that the house or property they want is uninsurable. But they buy it anyway because it is a bargain and the view is great. Many times the building or grounds can’t even be bought with a loan because it is unloanable, so only those with cash to burn buy and then build a mansion on it.

    I totally agree with this post. FEMA should come with strings attached called Wisdom.

  17. I would venture to guess that the percentage of people with flood insurance is inversely proportional to the number of years since the last flood.

    • Since one cannot get a mortgage in a floodzone unless flood insurance is purchased and kept in force, you would be wrong.

      • Something about what you’re saying doesn’t add up. Are you saying that 80% of homes either don’t have mortgages or don’t live in a flood plain? Sounds high for the Houston area.

  18. Kick the Syrian’s back to their own country and use the money, their homes/camps to temporarily house the flood people. At least the flood people have paid taxes in some form for years and years and deserve more than these useless Syrians.

  19. Most cities are built in floodplains. Pioneers founded cities along rivers and streams for commerce, and that’s where they are today. So stating that Houston was stupidly built in a floodplain is not very meaningful. FEMA uses ‘flood zone’ designations. Most of the homes destroyed or damaged by Harvey were not in any flood zone and had never flooded before. This is why it’s being call an ‘unprecedented’ flood or a ‘500 year’ flood. I take exception to the 500 year designation, something which is undefinable when you only have a little over 100 years of records, but it is an attempt to show the severity of the event. People who are not in flood zones rarely buy flood insurance since it is costly, but maps used to determined the zones are often not up to date, so people who should be covered often are not. Also, around Houston and suburbs a substantial number of the most at risk areas are concentrated with high end properties. Since flood claims are capped these people are largely self insured. I’m not trying to make it sound like the displaced are all rich people; that’s a very small minority. What’s unprecedented about these floods is the wide areal coverage of the inundation as well as the sheer quantity of water.

  20. Fellow Texan (hunter)

    I’m here in the Beaumont area. Neches River has several days to drop before we get to see our water supply pumps, and then assess damage. Maybe 10 more days. We are not considered a flood plain.

    I agree, but with measure, with Rud Istvan. I would hope folks are either required to sign off on risk or insure for it. We can’t go on forever with paying for the rich or poors decision. We know it’s going to flood again. My home did not. But I chose the location with flood as my #1 concern. That didn’t make me smart, it made me lucky. This event is one for the history books. Next flood will be the garden variety.

    The problem with Rud’s suggestion, homes become affordable for the greater part of the population. So insurance is the stopgap solution. If that is too much, combined with building requirements, the city does not grow. In Houston, traffic will put you 2 hours from work, even if you live 20 miles to the northeast. So people build and live in the “loop”. If you work in the refineries, you live in the flood plain. It’s still an hour or so to work. These rules would limit any city’s grow; or destroy it.

    I find Rud Istvan’s post untimely. Somewhat arrogant. I still have a lot of respect for him. The post reviles a kink in his, otherwise, solid armor

    We’re Texans hunter, we know what has to be done. 95% of all the folks helping are Texans. All we’re needing is help up off the floor. We have helped others and we will in the future. We Americans need each other. We should never leave “neighborly” behind.

    Rud Istvan, I would include the cost of bailing out banks, bailing out all financial institutions. Why? They know, full well, playing games in the market are highly risky. I’m thinking of housing and robo signing on folks who can’t pay. All of those folks should pay for their loses, personally. They should never be allowed to play the game again. Not with my tax money. But then, where do you start/stop with this new requirement you wish to impose? It’s not just about “Houston”, this is about Texas and Texans. Change the rules, but not midstream.

    One more thing, Rud, most Texans “are” having to pay out-of-pocket. I am. Nothing is wrong with my home. I own a few business. We are closed until we get drinking water. I employ people. I have money set aside for this. I will not need to tap insurance for anything. But, like most folks, I will pay.

    • Thanks, Cliff.
      We Texans will get there. The past week has demonstrated that in spades.
      And if Ft. Lauderdale gets slammed with a nasty version of Irma, the rest of the nation will dig down deep and help there, as well.
      Even people living in high rises.
      And I will be pleased to contribute as I can.

  21. The longer the time between worst-case-scenarios, the greater the public’s amnesia and the greater people’s shock when “The Big One” hits. People currently living in New England are oblivious to the damages they would face if a hurricane took the same track as the 1938 “Long Island Express”. And, in 1938, it had been so long since a hurricane hit New England some “authorities” stated, “Hurricanes do not hit New England”.

    Rud Istvan seems to have stirred up a hornets nest, but in essence he is simply stating the tale of the three little pigs, and that it is wiser to build you house of bricks than of straw, and if you build of straw a big old wolf will come and blow your house down.

    As I recall, the pig in the brick house did not lock his doors to the less-wise pigs when they showed up running from the wolf. But I wouldn’t blame him if he gave them a lecture.

    What I like reading about is the people helping people without waiting for the government. After Katrina some of the swiftest and most efficient rebuilding was done by church groups, and the gruff fellows helping out were not the sort who go to church every Sunday.

    What I like least is reading about is looters, and others who profit from misfortune, and in this crowd I include Global Warming Alarmists.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/21/hurricane-warning-mckibben-alert/

    • Well said. Having been involved in the immediate aftermath of Katrina in MS I can attest that people did not sit and wait for government to clean up or rebuild for them. Something far too many people skip over is government help was there immediately, US military helicopters were bringing in personnel and supplies and running rescue operations before the storm had even passed through the region. The media created the myth of a failed USG response to Katrina simply because they hated Bush.

      As for looters? We stood a watch roster every night for the month of September. “people” would travel around areas listening for generators and come back at night to steal anything not protected. “people” can be real pieces of shiite.

    • As 2hotel9 said, well said.
      There are lots of people willing to help. Those who aren’t local, are willing give to groups like The Red Cross, The Salvation Army etc. that are known for using the contributions to actually put boots on the ground, roofs over and food for displaced people.

      I don’t think Rud’s post was addressing just Harvey or saying that any of the above is “wrong”, even if it’s the Feds attempting to do the same things.

      Hunter said he attempted to get the local government to address some of the potential flooding issues but they didn’t.
      Rud said that the local government bears some of the responsibly for the effects of Harvey.

      The personal responsibility? I’ve often helped people who have done stupid things. I’ve often been helped by people when I’ve done stupid things. In those cases the help was voluntary (and didn’t always involve money).

      It seems to me that Rud’s “beef” was not directed at not helping at all but at the taxpayer’s dollars going towards rebuilding the same set of dominos.

  22. More emotion than logic being exhibited in this thread. Of course everyone has sympathy for victims of a disaster. Unless I’m wrong, flood and earthquake insurance are Federally funded. Why buy it if you’re going to get bailed out anyway? What does that do to the insurance pool? And what about the people that have flood or earthquake damage that is not part of a national emergency and no insurance? Tough luck on them for having a local disaster? The author’s point is valid….. if someone wants to take a chance and not buy insurance why should they deserve coverage? We don’t lament someone’s gambling losses as out of their hands do we? On the other hand, unless I’m wrong again, national disaster relief is not equivalent to insurance recovery. It doesn’t replace X% of your total loss but rather provide money to start a rebuild of your life so we’re arguing apples and oranges. And again unless I’m wrong another time, those with insurance in a Federally funded disaster recovery zone get the disaster relief as well as their insurance claim.

    • So I built my life, went to school, married, raised a family, worked a career since moving here in 1963.
      And fought like crazy to get more flood controls in place.
      I shot video of a poorly designed City of Houston flood mitigation asset failing during the 2016 flood.
      Presented it to the Mayor, and argued down the techno-lazy’s an the City Public Works until they admitted I and my neighbors were correct about the failed asset.
      And the City still did nothing to fix it.
      And for this Istvan condemns me and my neighbors with a broad brush from the 12 floor, (thanks for the correction)?
      We were not party goers on the Ship of Fools.
      We have built our lives in a fabulous dynamic city that adds to the good of the entire nation.
      The Lunar Landing and humans in space, energy, chemicals, medicines, health care, transportation, International trade and commerce, Houston contributes more than its share in all those areas and more.
      So for someone who lives in a place that gets hit harder and more frequently than us, and has not been seriously tested by a storm in many years to disdain us while we are just starting a massive complex recovery is not at all welcome.
      And to do so in a way that reflects badly on him, badly on skeptics, and is counter factual and mean spirited just hit me wrong.

      • Living in San Francisco has its rewards – and dangers. Likewise in Houston, Fort Lauderdale, or Staten Island. It feels unfair that people who do not share the rewards should share the cost of a disaster mitigation. Why should it reflect badly on me?

      • “And the City still did nothing to fix it.
        And for this Istvan condemns me and my neighbors with a broad brush from the 12 floor, (thanks for the correction)”

        So you just admitted that you KNOW that your city has FAILED to protect you and your neighbors from flooding in the past and has done nothing to fix that, and you still choose to live there. Do you have flood insurance?

        Ristvan condemned NO ONE. Why do you insist on hyperbole and appeals to the extreme? He didn’t even remotely suggest most of the things you personally interpreted from his article. He even admitted that he does not have flood insurance and if flooding happens to him, it’s on him. He doesn’t expect the Federal government to cover it for him.

        I can be a compassionate, helpful person who spends my own time and money to rescue, dig, haul, feed and clothe others while at the same time expecting others to take every precaution to protect themselves as much as possible. The two are NOT mutually exclusive. He even said that Americans help each other when tragedy strikes for crying out loud. His ONLY point was that it’s WRONG to expect fellow Americans to pay to rebuild a house that’s likely to get destroyed again, or that wasn’t adequately insured in the first place. No one owes anyone that. And Texans aren’t likely to accept it anyway.

      • lol.
        No city is perfect.
        Sandy damage was largely due to poor infrastructure and building codes.
        Of course I carry insurance.
        And unless Istvan is supervweslthy he is silly not to carry insurance as well.
        His high rise certainly carries insurance against storm and flood.
        And they have the right to proportionately assess him for the undoubtedly large deductible.
        The fact is that federal disaster assistance has been going on for a long time, and it always costs all of us as a nation.
        What is offensive in Istvan’s essay us his assertion that the Harvey disaster is unique and that he gets to decide that he and America should just sit thus one out.
        No way.
        We are in it together and his uninformed essay us insulting in how he goes on about his opinion if his condo, which in poetic justice timing may be facing (I certainly hope not) it’s 1st actual test in a few days.

      • No only do you attribute things to ristvan that he did NOT say, you seem to ignore the stuff he DID say like:

        “We chose to live here, and should ourselves pay the local price if Irma comes. Hence this philosophical guest post.” (hint-He’s saying that he’s prepared to take the same advice he’s dishing out.)

        You ignored the FIRST TWO levels of responsibility he listed too and went straight for his jugular with names, lies, and completely extreme conclusions based on YOUR interpretation of what he said.

        YOU read his essay as mean spirited and it hit you wrong. That does NOT mean he wrote it in a mean spirited way does it? He has said NOTHING about income or the “poor” or even ventured into the lives of the people on Houston, but YOU have made repeated swipes at his income level. He NEVER said he wanted the people of Houston to suffer, nor made any sarcastic comments about it, but YOU mentioned all kinds of ways his building could be destroyed and he could suffer. He didn’t call anyone names. YOU did. And YOU keep bringing up what level his condo is on…like where he lives automatically makes him “smug”. What on earth do you think your self righteous accusations make YOUR posts sound like?

        Give it a rest. Your frustrations are evident and your feelings are valid. But don’t take them out on someone else who simply voiced his own opinion, whose feelings are just as valid as your own. Turning what he said into strawman arguments to make yourself feel better about attacking him doesn’t make you right, even if it makes you feel better.

  23. Anyone remember President Reagan’s “evil” Interior Secretary, James Watt? He proposed a complete change in construction and insurance policy for the USA in danger zones. He was vilified, made fun of and attacked from all sides. Part of his proposal was that if you are presently built in a flood plain or storm zone and your house gets destroyed government would pay for your house but you could not rebuild on the same site, you would have to move your location. If you did rebuild anyway you would be required to have private insurance or government would not pay a second time. A third time and you would not be allowed to rebuild regardless. Over time it would move people out of danger zones. Just a note, most people for get how many homes were destroyed by Andrew. Almost all, if not all were supposedly built to code. It turned out that the code had been watered down over the years, house built in the 1930s had a better chance of survival then brand new house. Or even houses built to the code in effect had never been properly inspected by government inspectors.

    • Or even houses built to the code in effect had never been properly inspected by government inspectors.

      That doesn’t even begin to tickle what happened. Roof shingles were stapled in, instead of being nailed. A condo building that was 2 or 3 stories tall (I don’t remember) had the entire end wall fall away – the whole end wall was attached with only two (2) nails! Etc, etc, etc. The stories were unbelievable. The real miracle of Andrew was that the loss of life wasn’t much greater.

  24. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/30/flood-insurance-policies-plunge-in-houston.html

    Yes, people chose not to get flood insurance. Many of the people hit in Houston do not live in designated flood plains, and if they don’t, they are not required by law to have it. Many said they couldn’t afford it, or planned to get it and forgot.

    BUT those without it are being told they’ll have to pay for repairs themselves by taking out loans, digging into savings, or selling. None of those things come out of taxpayer’s pockets Ristvan. So where do you get the idea that taxpayers across the country will be paying for repairs to uninsured homes??

    • Government low interest disaster loans are available across the Country for all kinds of natural disasters. Perhaps he is referring to those. BTW, I have always wondered how many of those loans actually get paid back in full.

  25. Interesting to read Rud Istvan’s piece as I had just written a letter to my Congressman, shown below.

    Why should future taxpayers have to pay for the inevitable flood occurrence from building a city on a flat, flood prone area known to be in the path of hurricanes? If the popular free market allows you to do this the cost of flood protection and damage payments should come from local insurance and user community accumulated in years of good weather, not from the 97% who don’t live there.

    .The Army Corps of Engineers opened the Addicks and Barker dams 17 miles from Houston, adding to the flooding there, because allowing the area near the lakes to flood would be even worse for the high priced homes built around the reservoirs. . Both dams were built with taxpayer money to prevent flooding of the waterway that runs through Houston. Part of tens of billions of tax dollars spent to make Houston a deep water port 50 miles inland.

    The huge “humanitarian disaster aid” bill will probably glide through Congress with the Texas legislators who voted against relief for Sandy fully supporting it. The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 killed around 10,000 residents. It is just stupid to build where the high risks are already known and to encourage it with cheap flood insurance, now $25 billion in the red. I read that a $115,000 house in Houston has been repaired 16 times in 18 years at a cost of $800,000. Harvey is not the first to hit Houston: two tropical storms in 2015 and 2016 caused damage listed in the top 15 highest cost floods in US history,

    If Texas decides regulations are not needed and it’s OK to build on flood plains I don’t see why the rest of us should pay for their folly. It should also be noted that flood prevention is far cheaper than paying for flood damage. What plans are there to prevent another flood? I haven’t heard of any. Further such new structures should be largely paid for by the 10% that benefit from them.

    • The Addicks and Barker floodgates were opened because the Corps was worried about their integrity and could not allow them to be overtopped. They were built in the 40’s and upgrades were underway but not far along. Probably the reason you haven’t heard of plans to prevent floods in Houston is because a number of Corps approved projects that would have helped a lot have failed to get through Congress year after year.

    • Adrian,
      While you do make some good points, there is a LOT more to the story.
      Congress, for over 30 years under funded Flood defenses in SE Texas.
      For starters.
      The actual story is much longer and complex.

      • Adrian, every city in the country has exposure to some known risk of flood, storm, tsunami, earthquake.
        Your question is one that does not deserve a serious answer.
        Perhaps you have a serious point to offer?

      • Adrian, Some of your points are valid but with the MSM today after Katrina, it is political suicide especially for a Republican to be against helping the Hurricane victims.
        Several points
        We taxpayers just gave California big bucks to fix a dam that they ignored to fix for I don’t know how long even though they had a drought for years and decided to squander their $$$ elsewhere much of which goes to people who don’t legally live here. If here why not Houston too

        Hurricane Katrina evacuation warnings by the Federal Government were totally ignored by the La Governor and the City Mayor who did nothing to prepare leaving buses to flood and people to die. I assume you know the President has no authority to mandate an evacuation. But then the media took up the Political agenda that Bush was racist and wanted minorities to die and he was to blame although the main effort was supposed to the local responsibility.

        Unfortunately negligence on the part of local hack politicians was blamed on the Federal government and set the stage for future Presidents to get involved and spend Federal money to stay in office. BTW New Orleans is below sea level and makes less sense than most places and they apparently have not maintained their pumps.

        Houston is a major economic factor in part based on their Port to the Gulf and total relocation is not practical. Houston area contributes a lot to our economy and provides essential fuels and chemicals to the country. The private businesses are either insured or have sufficient back up funds or they will go out of business.

        In New Jersey, after sandy the requirements were that homes had to be elevated if they sustained a lot of flooding. I have a Shore home with flood insurance that has never been flooded although Sandy was close. I cannot add to my house since I am just under the increased minimum higher level post Sandy ( based on exaggerated SLR predictions.). Although I was not eligible many homes in my town have been raised although the did not experience major water intrusion.

        I don’t know about other States but a large percent of homes have been raised that saw water damage from Sandy, they are not rebuilding or just repairing damaged homes as suggested by many. Houston should consider the same approach rather than abandoning the whole city.

        Last, maybe the Corp of Engineers tried, but knowing a major rainstorm was coming, it would have seemed prudent to release a lot water from the dams in preparation. I feel especially sorry for those who were flooded because of Dam release since many did not have insurance not being in a flood zone .

  26. New Englander’s should pay for standby snowplows that have no utility in Los Angeles. Affected Californians should pay for earthquake resistant buildings that have no utility in New England.
    *************************************************************************************************************
    makes no sense when taken in conjunction with rest of article.
    I think you meant to say should NOT twice there.

  27. Lenbilen,
    The choice not to evacuate for Harvey is considered to be the lesson from Hurricane Rita. Just after Katrina, it was a Cat 5 and people were jumpy already. Houston and Galveston evacuated, tremendous traffic jams in blazing heat, over 100 deaths in the evacuation. Many people who had evacuated from New Orleans to Houston were evacuated a second time. The storm degenerated to a Cat 3 before landfall near the Texas/Louisiana border. Both cities completely spared.
    A lot of rain was part of the prediction for Harvey but nobody knew it would be as much as it turned out to be. Even so it caused fewer deaths than the unnecessary Rita evacuation.

  28. This is another stalled system, but this one is in Canada. Who’s responsible for their damage?

    “A flood, with the flow comparable to Niagara Falls, strikes a Canadian town and rips apart roads, bridges, and hillsides. Houses are swept away by the mind-blowing power of raging waters that reach up to 30 feet high.

    • Bush is responsible according to the Liberals because he exited the Paris Accords. He had 9 months and did not fix all the problems Obama left behind
      sarc/off

  29. If you live in a flood zone and have a mortgage you have flood insurance. However, flood zones are not always accurate, without many decades of records and good modeling of the drainage you may not be able to tell about marginal areas. A house that never flooded may flood, not because of more rain, but due to changes in the local drain system. When Floyd hit VA we had about 20 inches over a couple of days. My house did not flood but the water came within 6 inches of doing so, A 40-inch rain would for sure have flooded us. I was not in a flood plain and in fact was pretty near the highest point in my area. One apartment complex flooded to the second floor due to freeway construction and messed up drains. Also not a flood zone. I now live at the highest point in my area. Officially not a flood plain, and not in a hurricane evacuation area. Across the road from my subdivision entrance is zone D. So no flood insurance. Looking at local topography, I think I would be OK from a 40-inch rainfall over a few days or a 30 ft storm surge. Winds could get me, but for that I have insurance. I think that planning departments need to carefully study their cities or counties and make sure possible flood zones are well known and new construction, and flood rebuilding, takes that information into account. After Isabel many local houses needed rebuilt, took years but a lot more homes now have living floors above expected flood heights. Another 10-ft flood should do less damage.

  30. As this thread winds down let me correct some misunderstanding. Flood plain and flood zone are not the same. Anywhere there is even the remotest possibility of a flood is considered a flood plain. That covers a large amount of the Country. Areas in flood plains have flood zone designations based on several factors. Elevation, history, surrounding topography and more I am sure. The flood zone X is still in a flood plain but has a very low probability of flooding. The flood zone AE is an A zone with a known elevation and has a higher probability of flooding. There is a D zone meaning undetermined although that is probably mostly phased out now as satellite and aerial photography are used more and more. There are other more obscure zone designations. Flood insurance premiums are based on these zone designations. And just because a property lot is in a certain zone doesn’t mean the house on that property is in the same zone. You can take an AE zoned property and elevate the base level of the house above the base flood elevation and the AE becomes X.
    Flood zones and insurance rates are not a simple as many commenters think they are

    • Thank you Tom. Your calm and fact based posts are very much appreciated.
      I awoke after a bad night’s sleep to Reid’s essay and read it before even a cup of coffee.
      I could have and should have reacted more thoughtfully and less angrily.
      My replies would have been closer in style to yours.

      • Hunter, no problem. Most of us here understand where you’re coming from. The folks in your part of the country have yet again shown the rest of us how truly great Americans can be when the chips are down. Best of luck to you and your neighbors,

  31. Rud, I do hope you will or already have evacuated your home in Bwd County.
    We realize it’s very tempting for some elitists to sit in their lofty towers, sneering down upon the unwashed peasants below; but keep in mind that the higher the elevation, the higher the wind speed. Stay Safe. Keep your family safe. Sincerely, B

    • Without a sarc tag, so apparently Barbee couldn’t resist the temptation to get in a cheap shot. Luckily self righteousness is an equal opportunity vice, so she can be smug and petty regardless of her income level or personal circumstance!!

  32. I agree with the essay, except on the e pluribus unum part. I’m from Idaho. We don’t have natural disasters. We get nothing from helping any of you idiots that live in places racked by natural disasters.

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