Zoning versus Hurricanes

An August 30 Bloomberg Businessweek article blames Houston’s lack of zoning for the severity of Hurricane Harvey’s impact. New York and New Orleans had zoning; they were inundated.

All three cities were flooded. Zoning or the lack of it wouldn’t have made much difference against topography. In Houston’s case a nearly flat bowl of semi-permeable at best land gets over fifty inches of rain.

All three cities had lots of people and businesses in the way of a flood. As American coastal cities swell in population, we will see more, worse examples. Whether zoned for it or not.

Bloomberg made a political, not an economic, meteorological nor geological point.

Could things be done differently? Sure, but hindsight is always 20/20. Neither New Orleans nor New York relocated.

My forecast: expect another of these every decade from now on.

In the face of a natural direct hit, we would do better helping each other. Not throwing bricks.

2 thoughts on “Zoning versus Hurricanes

  1. It seems all of those factors play a part. The land, the incredible amount of water, poor zoning and specifically too much concrete meaning not enough ways for water to get out quickly. .

    • Fifty inches of rain on a flat surface will play out poorly no matter how it’s zoned and developed, or not. That area was prone to flooding before it was settled.
      Locating a huge metropolitan area there makes it vulnerable. Just as situating New York City where it is makes it vulnerable to a perfect storm. Perfect storms happen.

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