The fallout from the rainiest storm in (at least) Texas history continues. No one has ever seen a storm dump this much water over so wide an area. Or as the National Weather Center’s prediction team put it, “The breadth and intensity of this rainfall are beyond anything experienced before.” As the situation on the ground continues to evolve, we’ve compiled a short list of significant resources, and helpful stories, to stay abreast of what’s happening. It will be updated.
We’ve gathered up the Twitter folks mentioned by name here (and several others) into this list.
The driving force for the event is, of course, the storm. As in many cases, the National Weather Service’s various feeds are essential. The NWS websites are a bit inscrutable, so the Twitter feeds are a good way to access their updates:
- The Houston regional office, which provides a constant stream of local updates
- The Weather Prediction Center, which provides more regional and topical summaries
Two meteorologists have started up their own site, Space City Weather, for “hype-free forecasts.” They provide very in-depth analysis. For example, they have done an excellent job providing historical perspective on the storms that have flooded Houston:
- How Harvey stacks up to other storms in national history
- Tax Day Flood of 2016 versus Tropical Storm Allison
For a local perspective, Jeff Lindner is a meteorologist for the Harris County Flood-Control District, which manages the area’s flood mitigation infrastructure. He’s been tweeting, too.
The Harris County Flood-Control District manages the different pieces of infrastructure that try to protect Houston from flooding. They take a more traditional news approach, releasing press releases here. Their in-depth reports serve as excellent backgrounders:
- A massive look at Houston’s propensity to flood and Tropical Storm Allison
- An analysis of the Tax Day Flood of 2016
- A history of Houston’s flood-control measures into the 1990s
The Houston Chronicle has a large team of reporters on the ground with local knowledge. Many are tweeting in addition to filing stories. The investigative reporter Susan Carroll has been doing an excellent job of highlighting coverage. They’ve also, through time, created some of the best contextual explainers, including these two, which are the best journalistic accounts of the city’s flood history:
- “The Trouble with Living in a Swamp”
- “Houston’s Development Boom and Reduction of Wetlands Leave Region Flood Prone”
ProPublica, The Texas Tribune, and Reveal put together a remarkable explainer about the the previous two years’ worth of flooding. It’s essential background:
The alt-weekly Houston Press is also doing a very good job on the ground. Dianna Wray’s explainer on the (troubled, in-need-of-upgrades) dams holding a ton of rainwater is an excellent starting point for their coverage:
Scholars and Writers
Scott Knowles is a disaster historian at Drexel University. He also tweets: “In American disaster we ask responders and emergency managers to save lives and to fix generations of poverty and deferred maintenance. Impossible.”
Rebecca Solnit is not a scholar, per se, but her work on the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, A Paradise Built in Hell, is a rich (and heartening) exploration of what people do under the worst possible conditions. Here’s an excerpt in The New York Times.