Emergency Managers Say Houston Weather Never Surprises

Accuweather radar from Monday's storm
Yesterday's surprise deluge across the Houston area is a good example of how unpredictable our weather is. Forecasters expected rain, but nowhere near the amount we received. Local emergency and planning officials say nothing surprises them anymore in Houston.

The heavy rain started early yesterday and didn't let up until after noon. As is usually the case here, freeways flooded, stranding hundreds of motorists. Major intersections in some parts of the city weren't any better, with several feet of water in some areas.

But despite the rain, there were only sporadic reports of flood damage to homes. Fred Garcia with the Harris County Flood Control District. He says planning has paid off.

"The projects that we're putting in the ground make a huge difference as they are completed and big projects on Sims Bayou, that's a 20-year project that's about to conclude that took on just a huge amount of storm water. Areas along Brays Bayou that would have otherwise seen a lot higher water had we not built the massive detention basins and completed the channel work we've completed along Brays. White Oak Bayou, for example, here in northwest Houston and Harris County, a tremendous amount of work that drained very well."
 
The Harris County Emergency Operations Center monitored yesterday's rain from start to finish. Francisco Sanchez says officials here have to deal with almost every kind of potential disaster.

"It's good that we have so many hazards in the area, from hurricanes, Hazmat incidents, tropical weather, droughts. All these things keep us busy year round, planning and preparing for any type of disaster, whether it's weather related, whether it's a man-made event, all those things, because it's a threat-rich environment, we have the necessity to be able to spin up and respond to these things. For us, it's par for the course but it's not something we take lightly."

Fire officials reported several hundred calls from motorists stranded in high water yesterday. They say those rescues were all successful.

Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...