After over a week of devastating and debilitating flooding, Houston residents were faced with a new challenge on Monday: the start of the Atlantic hurricane season. About 35 trillion gallons of rain fell throughout the state of Texas during the month of May, which equals out to enough water to cover the entire Lone State with 8 inches of water. These storms overflowed rivers, killed 22 people, and damaged more than 4,000 properties. If there is a chance that a hurricane hits in the next few weeks, Texas may not be able to keep up. The state is already dealing with swollen rivers, bayous, and reservoirs, and more rain could have deadly affects. Contractors from all over the country were working 24/7 helping to cleanup flooding, rebuild homes, repair mechanical’s and restore the lives of thousands of property owners.
Meteorologists have already predicted that there will be about seven named storms this season, with at least three of them reaching hurricane status. If this does happen and it strikes Texas before the soil has a chance to dry out, things could get quite bad.
The ground is already very saturated to start the season. Texas hasn’t seen a major hurricane in seven years, when Hurricane Ike caused $29.5 billion in damage back in 2008. It was evaluated as the third-costliest hurricane in the United States, falling behind Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.
According to a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Galveston, hurricanes produce four major threats that could adversely affect Texas: Heavy rain, storm surges, wind, and tornadoes.
Luckily, the coast is clear right now as far as weather conditions. This next week should be sunny, and the state is finally returning back to normal. The U.S Route 59 and the Katy Freeway into Houston were buzzing with cards on Monday, and residents were back on their bicycles.
Unfortunately, you don’t have to drive far to find evidence that a hurricane could completely destroy the Houston area. Off of the Brazos River in Rosenburg, a Houston suburb, a community park had literally become a lake. Swing sets were submerged and streets were barricaded, but that still didn’t deter drivers from stopping along Avenue A to take some pictures.
If a hurricane does in fact hit Texas in the next few weeks, Houston will especially be at risk. As far as topography, the city is low-lying, meaning that there is nowhere for the water to run. Because Houston is paved over, a hurricane’s storm surge or even heavy rains could be very problematic.
City officials need to begin preparing for floods and hurricanes at the same time by developing better drainage systems. Even though it isn’t quite certain if something will develop over the Atlantic in the next few weeks, it is still beneficial to be prepared since more rain at some point is inevitable.
A Judge in Harris County said that he hopes the floods inspired homeowners to ready themselves for a hurricane. He also applauded the emergency management system in the city and their quick response to the floods, but tried to make a point about the future. It is stated that these storms caused about $27 million in infrastructural damage, and that figure is expected to rise as the state continues to tally up the damages caused by the extreme weather.
Roadways in 167 of the state’s 254 counties suffered some level of storm damage in May, and at least 155 roads in Texas were still underwater or closed due to damages on Sunday following the series of storms that began Memorial Day weekend.