Houston Students Trapped at School by Flooding

by on November 9th, 2010
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COMMENTARY | Houston, Texas is suffering severe storms and flooding. The National Weather Service report from 3 p.m. today lists severe flood and flash-flood warnings. Tornadoes have touched down and destroyed property according to the Houston Chronicle. CNN reports thousands are without power. I contacted a friend in Houston to get a view from the affected area.

“The rain started last night,” says Lori Carr, a teacher from Houston, Texas. “It came on like a switch. It seemed to abate for a while then started up again. I got to school without any trouble this morning. Around 8:30 the skies darkened and it became almost pitch black. We have these temporary buildings on campus and we started getting messages that we’d have to evacuate them. The rain was coming down in buckets and we had to move all those kids into the main school gym. It was raining tons and was very dark.”

“After my second class a colleague who shares my office and lives within about a quarter mile of the school tried to go home,” she continued, describing the flooding. “He came back 15 minutes later looking like he’d been thrown in a swimming pool. Our parking lot, the streets surrounding the school and all of the feeder streets are flooded. He took me to some good vantage points and we took pictures [which she gave the author including publishing rights.]

“He walked home, wading through water over his knees. Kids are begging their parents to come get them but nobody can reach their kids here. It’s terrible.”

I asked about prospects for rescue.

“We haven’t lost power,” Lori said. “We’re just stuck here and the city as at a standstill. Houston is such a commuter city and we don’t have great public transportation. Houston is so spread out and the rain basically cut the legs out from under the city.”

The urban sprawl and lack of modern transit appears to leave the city in jeopardy from extreme weather. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the region needs much better disaster recovery plans. Kids are trapped and the city is unprepared to reach them. Houston needs better contingency plans in place for the future.


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