Houston 101

5 Things Houstonians Do During Floods Despite Being Told Otherwise

You'd think we would have learned by now how to deal with flooding.
You'd think we would have learned by now how to deal with flooding. Photo by Doogie Roux
There are certain things you can count on when it comes to Houston and its citizens. When it starts to get hot out, people will post pictures of their ridiculously over-inflated car temperature readouts as if that is the real temperature outside. Rockets fans will always think the refs are biased against them. And everyone will complain about traffic if you spend more than ten minutes talking to them.

But, what shouldn't be commonplace are some of the things we experienced during Wednesday's flooding. No one wants it to flood, but Houston has always flooded, so you would think by now, we'd have learned how to handle it. Apparently not.

5. Complain about the wrong things.

God knows we have made a lot of mistakes as a city and county when it comes to flood mitigation, but when we do get an actual flood, it's as if people suddenly decide to blame the rain on our government officials. Yes, we overdevelop. Yes, we haven't prepared as well as we should have. Yes, we shouldn't have straightened (and concreted) so many of the area bayous. But, we are also a flat, swamp that gets more rainfall than Seattle each year. Whenever someone says, "Why isn't drainage better," remind them it's the same reason why the only hill you encounter in Houston is a highway overpass. We should certainly do better when it comes to flood mitigation, but if you are planning on staying in Houston for a while, you might want to familiarize yourself with our geography and climatology so you aren't so shocked next time it floods.

4. Ignore weather forecasting.

People love to complain about how bad forecasting is, but nearly all called for heavy rainfall and the potential of street flooding, which is exactly what we got. Weather forecasting is rarely perfect because the number of variables involved in predicting it are nearly incalculable. Add that to the fact that forecasters are trying to provide estimates for an area of nearly 1,000 square miles and you can see the complication. Next time, just be prepared for the potential for bad weather and be glad if you don't get it. Not everyone can always say the same thing.

3. Goof off in the water.

Seriously, guys, do we really have to say it isn't safe to run around in flood waters? It's particularly dangerous near waterways like creeks and bayous. Think of it this way. On a normal day, would you stroll down to Buffalo Bayou and take a swim? No? Then, it's probably not a good idea to go wading around in the water near it after a heavy rain.

2. Overreact.

It is perfectly reasonable that people are overly sensitive to flooding after Hurricane Harvey. It was the worst flooding event in the history of the United States, let alone Houston. There were bound to be some frayed nerves. But, try to remember that we got good warning before and during Harvey from weather forecasts. And it isn't as if Houston is a desert. It rains here. A lot. If you plan to stay in Houston, you are probably going to have to adjust your expectations.

1. Drive into water.

Why why why are you still doing this? Why? Seriously. People have come up with clever slogans like "turn around, don't drown" just to get you to realize this is stupid. There is no good reason to do it. Just stop.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke