Many of us are just shocked as the reports of continued destruction from Hurricane Harvey keep coming in from the Houston, Texas area. The fourth largest city in the United States is being virtually destroyed before our eyes by Mother Nature.
For those of us who have relatives in the affected areas, their message was as follows: “As of three hours ago we are still in our homes and the water has not reached us yet.” The speed and duration of the storm has caught all by surprise. The National Weather Service has run out of colors to show how much rain has fallen in certain areas. In the end, all agree that it will be years for this area to recover from a storm that will have lasted about five days.
Looking at the destruction from this super storm, one needs only look around our community to see similar, if not worse, destruction that is awaiting us. Communities such as Revere are just about entirely under sea level. Winthrop has only two ways out of town, and both are over the water. The New England Produce Center in Chelsea and Everett that supplies most of the fresh foods to the entire Northeast and parts of Canada would be destroyed by flooding either from a tidal surge or just rainfall amounts that a storm like Harvey has generated. Areas of East Boston along Boston Harbor are prone to flood regularly, not to mention what a Harvey would do. And the Back Bay and Downtown areas of Boston that are just slightly above sea level would be destroyed by a super storm like Harvey or Sandy.
Unfortunately, experts predict that there is no longer an “if,” but a “when” we will be hit by super storm.
There is very little that can be done, given that many of the areas in our communities now have hard surfaces, such as roads and sidewalks, that prevent natural drainage of excessive rains. Between rising sea levels and developments in the last few vacant parcels, we are a disaster waiting to happen.
However, there are certain measures that can be taken to minimize the effects of destruction. Location of utility services such electricity should be placed not in the basement, but on the top floors of houses that are in flood plain areas. We need to make sure that the water drainage can flow quickly from the catch basins in flood plains to the marshlands that surround communities.
Some of these measures will require a monetary commitment by either the state or federal government to implement. But as we plan for future developments and infrastructure repairs, we urge our elected leaders to look at ways to get the funds that will mitigate the disaster that will come from a hurricane.
Today, elected leaders from our communities are asking for donations from residents to be sent to the victims of Harvey. We urge all to give what they can, as this is the only tangible help that we can offer at this time.