Flooding: Cary Follows Houston’s Urban Model Aug31


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Flooding: Cary Follows Houston’s Urban Model

Urbanization brings urban flooding.  It’s only a matter of time.

Houston’s flood has taken lives and wreaked billions in property damage.  But it is more than a natural disaster – it is a municipal design and planning problem. 

Has corporate media begun to expose the root cause of disproportionate flooding in towns and cities across America?  Just a few days into this disaster, the media suddenly knew a whole lot more about the negligent causes of Houston’s flooding, than they ever revealed before Harvey. After decades of insufferably avoiding this discussion, is corporate media rushing to cover up the ugly truth?

“New Urban” planning,and federal regulatory manipulations got us here and now the media is rushing to cover-up those real causes, exploiting this crisis to give us even more of the same. 

Cary’s planned population explosion is built upon the same regulatory and planning model for urbanization as Houston and hundreds of other cities.  Cary is on track to double its population without any major storm water infrastructure spending. Sound familiar Houston?  

As we begin urbanizing, so begins Cary’s flooding problem.


Our aging downtown storm water infrastructure, long neglected by Cary’s Town Council, cannot even handle its current load.   Now the Council continues its aggressive plans for high density urban development which will increase storm water loads by a magnitude…….still no funding to scale up Cary’s municipal storm water system.

Urban Flooding

High density development produces large volumes of high velocity runoff.  Cities with no land left for retention systems, and no money to buy right-of-ways for ponds and piping systems, have nowhere for storm water to go but into yards and homes. In anticipation of this, municipalities that commit to urbanization eventually adopt a model of controlled flooding – also know as “town regulated floodplains”.  Essentially, low lying private property is used to absorb storm water surges from new development projects. This model results in property loss –  often characterized as  regulatory taking or regulatory seizure.

The regulatory and statutory templates are coordinated at local levels with FEMA flood insurance mapping programs, gradually allowing storm water levels to rise in low lying areas while development continues upstream.  At first, it is blamed on climate and weather. Cheap insurance is made available to placate irate homeowners.  As damage from even routine storms worsens,  cities must then start mapping flooded properties into FEMA flood zones.  Foreclosures begin as homes become unsellable and insurance premiums exceed mortgage payments. High density development begins to outpace the regulators.  Water volumes and velocity increase.  Damage increases. Then, all it takes is a major storm, and disaster strikes.

To see how this works in Cary, see this article over at CaryWatch that shows the “damming effect” in one of the Cary’s town-regulated flood plains.  In the last few years of rapid growth, flooding there has worsened dramatically and the Town has already started a process of re-mapping homes into FEMA flood zones – devastating the lives and finances of homeowners.

Decades of Citizen Warnings Ignored by Houston

Cary citizens who face rapidly increasing flooding and erosion are quietly dismissed by Town spokesmen and belittled by complicit local media. For decades, Houston also ignored citizens whose once high and dry homes  began to experience chronic flooding.  Pleas for storm water infrastructure were ignored. Some homeowners organized the Drainage Coalition, and carefully documented large scale development projects that were channeling high velocity storm water  into their neighborhoods.

All these homewowers asked of their representatives is that the city fulfill its core responsibility – storm water management.  Houston ignored them

Flooding by Design

The Floodway Coatlition has been sounding the siren for years.  Their presentation can be downloaded here.  It warned not only  of the devastation from Houston’s growing chronic flooding, but also outlines how the city’s regulatory/statute model nullifies property rights and devastates lives. Cary’s early model for controlled urban flooding shares much with the Houston story found in that Floodway Coalition paper.

After Harvey, Is America’s Corporate Media Opening a Blind Eye?

It is too early to gauge to full extent of Harvey but hundreds of thousands are suffering massive loss and heartache. The latest death count stands at 39.  For decades Americas’ corporate media has turned a willful blind eye to the federal-municipal agenda driving this unchecked growth, resultant flooding, and regulatory taking.


Corporate Media: It’s Not Just Mother Nature


Atlantic: Houston’s Flood is a Design Problem

“But the impact of flooding, particularly in densely developed areas like cities, is far more constant than a massive, natural disaster like Harvey exposes. The reason cities flood isn’t because the water comes in, not exactly. It’s because the pavement of civilization forces the water to get back out again.”

Washington Post:  Houston’s ‘Wild West’ growth

“How the city’s development may have contributed to devastating flooding”

Politico: How Washington Made Harvey Worse

“Houston’s problem was runaway development in flood-prone areas, accelerated by heavily subsidized federal flood insurance.”

Bloomberg: Harvey Wasn’t Just Bad Weather. It was Bad City Planning

“Houston exulted in sprawling, hands-off growth. That’s no way to prepare for natural catastrophes.”

 Will corporate media finally expose the inherent problems with urbanization, and champion the property rights and safety of American citizens?
Or will they just exploit this crisis – piling on even more of the regulatory and corporate lobbying that got us here in the first place?
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