Will Houston Be A Wakeup Call for Great Lakes Cities?
Posted on: September 15, 2017
Flooded homes near Chicago.
Flooded homes near Chicago, July 2017. (Chicago Daily Herald Photo)

On September 5th, Detroit Public Television’s Great Lakes Bureau published an article entitled, “Will Houston Be A Wakeup Call for Great Lakes Cities?” The article begins in the following way.

“Rail lines closed, flooding caused power outages and a hospital was forced to transfer patients. Stranded motorists were rescued by boats, the Red Cross opened shelters and the weather forecast said additional heavy rain was on the way.


No, that’s Chicago in July.”

The article cites recent examples of several cities around the Great Lakes, including Thunder Bay, where rain events completely  knocked out city infrastructure and caused widespread flooding. That’s not even mentioning last summer’s hugely damaging rainstorm last summer at Saxon Harbour, just east of the Wisconsin/Michigan line on Lake Superior. The article makes the point that Houston should be a wakeup call for Great Lakes cities and that the traditional focus of simply installing more and more pipes and pavement, will no longer work. As an example, instead of paving over wetlands, such natural resources could be used to attenuate, or retain, vast quantities of water.

Many recent articles cite the lack of zoning in the Houston case and this article notes the issue as well, concluding by saying, “if we can accelerate attention to good zoning, green infrastructure solutions and renewable energy sources, we’ll be viewed as the smart ones in years to come.”

Houston was usurped, just like many Great Lakes cities have been usurped by storm events in recent years, albeit to a much lesser extent than Houston. Now that the storm is over, Houston is seeking cash, whether they took any steps to prevent flood damage or not. This cash ultimately comes from every tax payer in the nation, most of whom are happy to give, especially taking into account the nature of the storm.

Attention to some of the points made in the article however, may allow Great Lakes cities to reduce risk and ultimately reduce costs. This could benefit their own municipal taxpayers, and perhaps, every taxpayer in the nation. Hopefully, some of these steps will be taken now, not after the next damaging event.

Read the Great Lakes Now article…

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