Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Darryl K. Brewer, 34 was driving a GMC van when he crossed over the yellow line and crashed head on into a Nissan Altima — killing Brewer, Destiny Vires, 13, of Benton, Winnie Burris, 39, and Riley Burris, 13, of Old Fort.

 Destiny Vires
 Winnie Burris, 39, and Mitchell Armour, 43
 Winnie Burris, 39, and Riley Burris, 13
Darryl K. Brewer, 34 was driving a GMC van when he crossed over the yellow line and crashed head on into a Nissan Altima — killing Brewer, Destiny Vires, 13, of Benton, Winnie Burris, 39, and Riley Burris, 13, of Old Fort.

THP: 4 dead 1 injured after crash on Hwy 411 in Loudon County

August 28, 2017

GREENBACK, TN (WATE) – According to a crash report released by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, 4 people are dead following a crash on Highway 411 in Loudon County.

The report says Darryl Kenneth Brewer, 34, of Maryville was driving a GMC van just after 7 Saturday night when he crossed over the yellow line and crashed head on into a Nissan Altima — killing Brewer, Destiny Vires, 13, of Benton, Winnie Lynn Burris, 39, of Old Fort, and Riley Burris, 13, of Old Fort. Mitchell Armour, 43, was injured in the crash.

Information about Armour’s condition has not been released.

No drugs or alcohol are believed to be factors in the crash.

Darryl Kenneth “Kenny” “Rooster” Brewer, Jr. was convicted in 2014 by a Blount County jury on two counts of gas station robbery. Later, the judge dismissed the charges against him.


BENTON, Tenn. (WATE)- A phone call no parent or family, ever wants to get, that their child has been hurt.

“I so wish my baby came home, I wish she never got to go.” said Ruby Anne Miller.

Miller’s daughter, Destany Vires, 13, was one of four victims in a fatal crash on Highway 411 in Loudon County.

The report says Darryl K. Brewer, 34, of Maryville was driving a GMC van just after 7 p.m. Saturday when he crossed over the yellow line and crashed head on into a Nissan Altima. Brewer, Vires, Winnie Lynn Burris, 39, of Old Fort, and Riley Burris, 13, of Old Fort died in the crash. Mitchell Armour, 43, was injured in the crash.

“A little more time went by, we contacted the person’s mother that she was with. She said she couldn’t get a hold of her. Then I started to get kind of worried, I walked up the driveway to wait for her, just hoping. When I got back she said the family was from Polk County…” said Jacob Miller, Destiny’s step-father.

Destiny was on her way home, to Benton, after her first trip to Dollywood. Her mother, Ruby Anne, says her daughter was celebrating reaching advanced placement at school.

“As the Christian and love based person she was and how she loved to help everybody. She represented love. She’s all goodness. You could be having the worst day and she would brighten you up.” said Ruby Anne.

Her mother says Destiny wanted to go to Yale, become a lawyer, and then — President of the United States. She says she cherishes Destiny’s 5th Grade graduation photo.

Ruby Anne said, “She wanted everybody to go to heaven. I know that’s where my baby is. I know that, without a doubt.”


Four people were killed when two cars collided on U.S. Highway 411 in Loudon County on Saturday, according to a Tennessee Highway Patrol report.

The crash occurred in Greenback near Cope Road at just after 7 p.m. Saturday. A GMC van driven by Darryl K. Brewer, 34, of Maryville, crossed from the northbound lane into the southbound lane and struck a Nissan Altima carrying four people head-on.

Brewer was ejected from the van, which continued off the road and into a field where it caught fire. He died at the scene. THP reports that he was not wearing a seatbelt.

Three passengers in the Nissan were killed in the collision.

Destiny Vires, 13, of Benton and Winnie L. Burris, 39, and Riley Burris, 13, both of Old Fort, Tenn., were killed when the car was struck by Brewer's van.

The trio were riding with driver Mitchell E. Armour, 43, of Lenoir City, who was injured in the crash.

According to THP, drugs and alcohol were not involved in the wreck.

DRUNKS KILL MORE PEOPLE IN MARYLAND: Two people are dead after an early morning crash that involved five vehicles in Prince George’s County

Prince George’s County, MD

 Two people are dead after an early morning crash that involved five vehicles in Prince George’s County.

Few details about what happened were immediately available, according to the U.S. Park Police, which is overseeing the investigation. Sgt. Anna Rose, a spokeswoman for the agency, said the incident is still under review.

The names of those who were killed are not being released, pending notification of their families, she said.

The crash happened around midnight Monday along Edmonston Road near Sunnyside Avenue in Beltsville.

It was the second fatal crash on Sunday in Prince George’s County.

A 61-year-old motorcyclist died after he and a car crashed along the westbound lanes of Route 50 near Kenilworth Avenue in Cheverly. He lost control and hit a guardrail, officials said.

This is classic drunk driving (or impaired-driving, in general) crash.  Most of these crashes occur in the early a.m. hours like this one. 

HURRICANE HARVEY'S HUMAN TOLL: Houston city police officer, Sgt. Steve Perez, 56, drowned in his patrol car after he became trapped in high water while driving to work on Interstate 45 in north Harris County

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Tuesday confirmed the death of a police officer Sunday when he was trapped in flooded patrol car.

The Houston Chronicle has reported that Sgt. Steve Perez, 50, was heading to work Sunday when he became trapped in high water on Interstate 45 in north Harris County and then couldn’t get himself out of his car.

Record rainfall in Texas; Houston police officer drowns

HOUSTON, Texas -- Houston officials will open two or three more mega-shelters to accommodate people who continue to arrive at the overflowing George R. Brown Convention Center seeking refuge from Harvey's record-breaking flooding, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday.

The center already held more than 9,000 people, almost twice the number officials originally planned to house there, Turner said.

"We are not turning anyone away. But it does mean we need to expand our capabilities and our capacity," Turner said. "Relief is coming."

More than 17,000 people have sought refuge in Texas shelters and that number seemed certain to increase, the American Red Cross said.

Powerful images show the wrath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Volunteers and donors lined up outside the Toyota Center, the downtown arena that is home to the Houston Rockets, in anticipation that it will be one of the new shelters. While details of the new shelters were expected later Tuesday, Charles Maltbie, a Red Cross shelter manager, said volunteers have done a "preliminary walk through" of the Toyota Center and are working to configure it for evacuees.

The mayor said the city has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for more supplies, including cots and food, for additional 10,000 people, which he hopes to get no later than Wednesday.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Louisiana is offering to shelter storm victims from Texas while the state also helps its own residents who were rescued from Harvey's floodwaters overnight. Edwards said at a news conference Tuesday in Baton Rouge that he expects Texas officials to decide within 48 hours whether to accept the offer and transport flood victims to Louisiana shelters.

Also on Tuesday, Houston authorities confirmed that a 30-year-old city police officer drowned in his patrol car after he became trapped in high water while driving to work.

Sgt. Steve Perez died in the floodwaters on the way to work Sunday President Donald Trump visited Texas on Tuesday, and the White House said his stops in Corpus Christi and Austin were meant to highlight coordination at all levels of government and lay the groundwork for what is expected to be a lengthy recovery after the storm.

Trump traveled with the secretaries of health and human services and housing and urban development, and the head of the Small Business Administration.

The storm continued to take a toll even as the weather outlook improved slightly.

A pair of 70-year-old reservoir dams that protect downtown Houston and a levee in a suburban subdivision began overflowing Tuesday, adding to the rising floodwaters from Harvey that have crippled the area after five consecutive days of rain that set a new continental U.S. record for rainfall for a tropical system.

Brazoria County authorities posted a message on Twitter warning that the levee at Columbia Lakes south of Houston had been breached and telling people to "GET OUT NOW!!" Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta said residents were warned that the levee would be overtopped at some point, and a mandatory evacuation order was given Sunday.

Engineers began releasing water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs Monday to ease the strain on the dams. But the releases were not enough to relieve the pressure after one of the heaviest downpours in U.S. history, Army Corps of Engineers officials said. Both reservoirs are at record highs.

The release of the water means that more homes and streets will flood, and some homes will be inundated for up to a month, said Jeff Lindner of the Harris County Flood Control District.

The county is trying to determine where the water will go, Lindner said.

A weather station southeast of Houston reported 49.32 inches of rain as of Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service. That breaks the previous record of 48 inches set in 1978 in Medina, Texas, by Tropical Storm Amelia.

Already 14 sites in Houston have recorded more than 40 inches of rain and 36 different locations have recorded more than 3 feet.

Although forecasters had feared that another 2 feet could fall in some places, it appeared that the outlook had improved somewhat on Tuesday. The weather service said the amount of rain falling in the Houston area would be 2 to 3 inches, perhaps a little less in Houston proper, as the storm moved east.

But southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana still would see "relentless torrential rains," with another 6 to 12 inches of rain across the upper Texas coast through Friday as Harvey continues to move slowly east over the Gulf of Mexico maintaining tropical storm force winds of 45 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

It is expected to make landfall again Wednesday morning, probably in southwestern Louisiana

Calls for rescue have so overwhelmed emergency teams that they have had little time to search for bodies. And officials acknowledge that fatalities from Harvey could soar once the floodwaters start to recede from one of America's most sprawling metropolitan centers.

More than four days after the storm ravaged the Texas coastline as a Category 4 hurricane, authorities had confirmed only three deaths - including a woman killed Monday when heavy rains dislodged a large oak tree onto her trailer home in the small town of Porter. But unconfirmed reports of others missing or presumed dead were growing.

"We know in these kinds of events that, sadly, the death toll goes up historically," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told The Associated Press. "I'm really worried about how many bodies we're going to find."

One Houston woman said Monday that she presumes six members of a family, including four of her grandchildren, died after their van sank into Greens Bayou in East Houston.

Virginia Saldivar told The Associated Press her brother-in-law was driving the van Sunday when a strong current took the vehicle over a bridge and into the bayou. The driver was able to get out and urged the children to escape through the back door, Saldivar said, but they could not.

"I'm just hoping we find the bodies," Saldivar said.

Houston emergency officials could not confirm the deaths.

A spokeswoman for a Houston hotel said one of its employees disappeared while helping about 100 guests and workers evacuate the building.

The disaster is unfolding on an epic scale, with the nation's fourth-largest city mostly paralyzed by the storm that arrived as a Category 4 hurricane and then parked over the Gulf Coast. The Houston metro area covers about 10,000 square miles (25,900 square kilometers), an area slightly bigger than New Jersey.

Harvey kept drenching Houston and the surrounding area. Rain fell Tuesday at about half an inch (1 centimeter) per hour over Harris County - home to Houston - and up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) per hour to the east.

Forecasters expect the storm to linger over the Gulf before heading back inland east of Houston sometime Wednesday. The system will then head north and lose its tropical strength.

It could creep as far east as Mississippi by Thursday, meaning New Orleans, where Hurricane Katrina unleashed its full wrath in 2005, is in Harvey's path. Foreboding images of Harvey lit up weather radar screens early Tuesday, the 12th anniversary of the day Katrina made landfall in Plaquemines Parish.


HOUSTON, Texas (WPVI) --

A Houston police officer has drowned in his vehicle during flooding.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner confirmed Sgt. Steve Perez died Sunday morning on his way to work.

Sgt. Perez left his home in heavy rain at 4:30 a.m. to report to an investigation. Houston Police Chief Art. Acevedo said Sgt. Perez drove for about two and a half hours trying to find a safe way to his station. He called his command and to report he could not get to his duty station.

Sgt. Perez followed protocol, which was to go to a second station in Kingwood.

On Monday, the chain of command realized Sgt. Perez had not shown up for work. They knew the dedicated officer would not have simply failed to show up.

Perez served on the force for 34 years and was currently assigned to the traffic enforcement division.

On Monday evening, the search area was narrowed to Hardy Toll Road and Beltway 8.

HURRICANE HARVEY: Wall Street analysts estimated insured losses as high as $20 billion; uninsured losses could exceed $25 billion

Harvey hits insurance stocks as loss estimates surge to $20 billion

- Hurricane Harvey’s whipsaw of wind and rain across Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast hurt the shares of U.S. property and casualty insurers on Monday as Wall Street analysts estimated insured losses as high as $20 billion.
That would make it one of the costliest storms in history for U.S. insurers, but could ultimately help insurers and reinsurers to raise rates, some analysts said, after a period of low premiums.
“Our best guess at this point is Harvey could result in $10 billion to $20 billion of industry insured losses, making it one of the top 10 most costly hurricanes to hit the United States,” JPMorgan analyst Sarah DeWitt said in a research note on Monday.
Swathes of Houston were underwater on Monday, the effect of Harvey sweeping ashore on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in 50 years. It has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, but more rain is expected to fall on the fourth-largest U.S. city.
Damage caused by flooding is not included in standard homeowners insurance policies and is covered by the U.S. government. However, flood damage to businesses is covered by commercial policies, said DeWitt, which could result in “meaningful losses for the commercial reinsurers and insurers.”
JPMorgan’s and other estimates are currently well below the $75 billion in insured losses caused by Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans in 2005, but are likely to grow.
Shares of Travelers Companies Inc and Allstate Corp, two of the largest homeowners insurers in Texas, fell 2.6 percent and 1.5 percent respectively on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of Progressive Corp, a large auto insurer in Texas, fell 2.3 percent.


Harvey struck only days before senior insurance executives hold their annual meeting in Monte Carlo to haggle over reinsurance renewals as premiums remain stubbornly low across the industry.
“We think Harvey could help stabilize global reinsurance pricing, but do not expect a major turn in pricing to follow,” Kai Pan, an insurance analyst at Morgan Stanley, said in a research note on Monday.
A storage facility that took damage from a tornado that spun off of Hurricane Harvey after the storm made landfall on the Texas Gulf coast, in Katy, Texas, U.S. August 26, 2017.Nick Oxford
Property and casualty insurance stocks tend to underperform immediately after a catastrophic storm, but often beat the overall market once loss estimates become more accurate and insurers are able to stabilize or raise premium rates.
By contrast, insurance brokerage stocks, such as Marsh & McLennan Cos Inc, tend to rise immediately after a storm because such companies are not exposed to underwriting risk and a rise in premium rates boosts their commission income.
Shares of Marsh & McLennan, which bought one of the largest insurance brokerages in Texas in 2015, closed up 0.5 percent on Monday.


Houston is facing worsening flooding in the coming days as the storm dumps more rain on the city, swelling rivers to record levels and forcing federal engineers on Monday to release water from reservoirs in an effort to control the rushing currents.
Swiss Re said it is too early to gauge the full impact.
“There are so many areas that have been hit by devastating winds and now the massive flooding, and insurance adjusters are having to wait for first responders to simply check on the safety and welfare of citizens," said Mark Hanna of the Insurance Council of Texas.
Claims are expected to accelerate once Texas residents get their bearings.
"We have just over 2,000 claims across all lines of business," said Farmers Insurance Group spokesman Trent Frager. "While that may sound low, residents who are evacuated haven't (yet) been able to assess and report damage for claims handling."




Houston's Flood Is a Design Problem

It’s not because the water comes in. It’s because it is forced to leave again.
Richard Carson / Reuters

Ian Bogost
August 28, 2017

Floods cause greater property damage and more deaths than tornadoes or hurricanes. And Houston’s flood is truly a disaster of biblical proportions: The sky unloaded 9 trillion gallons of water on the city within two days, and much more might fall before Harvey dissipates, producing as much as 60 inches of rain.

Pictures of Harvey’s runoff are harrowing, with interstates turned to sturdy and mature rivers. From Katrina to Sandy, Rita to Tōhoku, it’s easier to imagine the flooding caused by storm surges wrought by hurricanes and tsunamis. In these cases, the flooding problem appears to be caused by water breaching shores, seawalls, or levees. Those examples reinforce the idea that flooding is a problem of keeping water out—either through fortunate avoidance or engineering foresight.

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.

* * *

There are different kinds of floods. There’s the storm surge from hurricanes, the runoff from snowmelt, the inundation of riverbanks. But all these examples cast flooding as an occasional foe out to damage human civilization. In truth, flooding happens constantly, in small and large quantities, every time precipitation falls to earth. People just don’t tend to notice it until it reaches the proportions of disaster.

Under normal circumstances, rain or snowfall soaks back into the earth after falling. It gets absorbed by grasslands, by parks, by residential lawns, by anywhere the soil is exposed. Two factors can impede that absorption. One is large quantities of rain in a short period of time. The ground becomes inundated, and the water spreads out in accordance with the topography. The second is covering over the ground so it cannot soak up water in the first place. And that’s exactly what cities do—they transform the land into developed civilization.

Roads, parking lots, sidewalks, and other pavements, along with asphalt, concrete, brick, stone, and other building materials, combine to create impervious surfaces that resist the natural absorption of water. In most of the United States, about 75 percent of its land area, less than 1 percent of the land is hardscape. In cities, up to 40 percent is impervious.

The natural system is very good at accepting rainfall. But when water hits pavement, it creates runoff immediately. That water has to go somewhere. So it flows wherever the grade takes it. To account for that runoff, people engineer systems to move the water away from where it is originally deposited, or to house it in situ, or even to reuse it. This process—the policy, planning, engineering, implementation, and maintenance of urban water systems—is called stormwater management.The combination of climate change and aggressive development made an event like this almost inevitable.

According to my Georgia Institute of Technology colleague Bruce Stiftel, who is chair of the school of city and regional planning and an expert in environmental and water policy governance, stormwater management usually entails channeling water away from impervious surfaces and the structures built atop them. In other words, cities are built on the assumption that the water that would have been absorbed back into the land they occupy can be transported away instead.

Like bridges or skyscrapers designed to bear certain loads, stormwater management systems are conceived within the limits of expected behavior—such as rainfall or riverbank overrun events that might happen every 10 or 25 years. When these intervals are exceeded, and the infrastructure can’t handle the rate and volume of water, flooding is the result.

Houston poses both a typical and an unusual situation for stormwater management. The city is enormous, stretching out over 600 square miles. It’s an epitome of the urban sprawl characterized by American exurbanism, where available land made development easy at the edges. Unlike New Orleans, Houston is well above sea level, so flooding risk from storm surge inundation is low. Instead, it’s rainfall that poses the biggest threat.

A series of slow-moving rivers, called bayous, provide natural drainage for the area. To account for the certainty of flooding, Houston has built drainage channels, sewers, outfalls, on- and off-road ditches, and detention ponds to hold or move water away from local areas. When they fill, the roadways provide overrun. The dramatic images from Houston that show wide, interstate freeways transformed into rivers look like the cause of the disaster, but they are also its solution, if not an ideal one. This is also why evacuating Houston, a metropolitan area of 6.5 million people, would have been a terrible idea. This is a city run by cars, and sending its residents to sit in gridlock on the thoroughfares and freeways designed to become rivers during flooding would have doomed them to death by water.

* * *

Accounting for a 100-year, 500-year, or “million-year” flood, as some are calling Harvey’s aftermath, is difficult and costly. Stiftel confirms that it’s almost impossible to design for these “maximal probable flood events,” as planners call them. Instead, the hope is to design communities such that when they flood, they can withstand the ill effects and support effective evacuations to keep people safe. “The Houston event seems like an illustration that we haven’t figured it out,” Stiftel says.

Many planners contend that impervious surface itself is the problem. The more of it there is, the less absorption takes place and the more runoff has to be managed. Reducing development, then, is one of the best ways to manage urban flooding. The problem is, urban development hasn’t slowed in the last half-century. Cities have only become more desirable, spreading outward over the plentiful land available in the United States.

The National Flood Insurance Program, established in 1968, offered one attempt at a compromise. It was meant to protect and indemnify people without creating economic catastrophe. Instead of avoiding the floodplain, insurance allowed people to build within it, within management constraints recommended by FEMA. In theory, flood-hazard mitigation hoped to direct development away from flood-prone areas through the disincentives of risk insurance and regulatory complexity.Sometimes “living with water” means sidestepping the consequences.

Since then, attitudes have changed. For one part, initial avoidance of floodplains created desirable targets for development, especially in the middle of cities. But for another, Stiftel tells me that attitudes about development in floodplains have changed, too. “It’s more about living with water than it is about discouraging development in areas prone to risk.”

Sometimes “living with water” means sidestepping the consequences. Developers working in flood zones might not care what happens after they sell a property. That’s where governmental oversight is supposed to take over. Some are more strict than others. After the global financial crisis of 2008, for example, degraded local economies sometimes spurred relaxed land-use policy in exchange for new tax bases, particularly commercial ones.

In other cases, floodplains have been managed through redevelopment that reduces impervious surfaces. Natural ground cover, permeable or semi-permeable pavers, and vegetation that supports the movement of water offer examples. These efforts dovetail with urban redevelopment efforts that privilege mixed-use and green space, associated with both new urbanism and gentrification. Recreation lands, conservation lands and easements, dry washes, and other approaches attempt to counterbalance pavement when possible. Stiftel cites China’s “sponge cities” as a dramatic example—a government-funded effort to engineer new, permeable materials to anticipate and mitigate the flooding common to that nation.

* * *

But Thomas Debo, an emeritus professor of city planning at Georgia Tech who also wrote a popular textbook on stormwater management, takes issue with pavement reduction as a viable cure for urban flooding. “We focus too much on impervious surface and not enough on the conveyance of water,” he tells me. Even when reduced in quantity, the water still ends up in in pipes and concrete channels, speeding fast toward larger channels. “It’s like taking an aspirin to cure an ailment,” he scoffs. Houston’s flooding demonstrates the impact.

Instead, Debo advocates that urban design mimic rural hydrology as much as possible. Reducing impervious surface and improving water conveyance has a role to play, but the most important step in sparing cities from flooding is to reduce the velocity of water when it is channelized, so that it doesn’t deluge other sites. And then to stop moving water away from buildings and structures entirely, and to start finding new uses for it in place.

That can be done by collecting water into cisterns for processing and reuse—in some cases, Debo explains, the result can even save money by reducing the need to rely on utility-provided water. Adding vegetation, reclaiming stormwater, and building local conveyance systems for delivery of this water offer more promising solutions.

Though retired from Georgia Tech, Debo still consults on the campus’s local stormwater management efforts. In one case, the institute took a soccer field and made it into an infiltration basin. Water permeates the field, where it is channeled into pipes and then into local cisterns.A centralized approach to stormwater management is a pipe dream.

In Houston’s case, catastrophic floods have been anticipated for some time. The combination of climate change, which produces more intense and unpredictable storms, and aggressive development made an event like this week’s almost inevitable. The Association of State Floodplain Managers has called for a national flood risk-management strategy, and the Houston Chronicle has called flood control the city’s “most pressing infrastructure need.” A lack of funding is often blamed, and relaxed FEMA regulations under the Trump Administration won’t help either.

But for Debo and others, waiting for a holistic, centralized approach to stormwater management is a pipe dream anyway. Just as limiting impervious surface is not the solution to urban stormwater management, so government-run, singular infrastructure might not be either. “It’s much more difficult, and a much bigger picture,” Debo insists to me. “There is no silver bullet for stormwater management.”

* * *

One problem is that people care about flooding, because it’s dramatic and catastrophic. They don’t care about stormwater management, which is where the real issue lies. Even if it takes weeks or months, after Harvey subsides, public interest will decay too. Debo notes that traffic policy is an easier urban planning problem for ordinary folk, because it happens every day.

So does stormwater—it just isn’t treated that way. Instead of looking for holistic answers, site-specific ones must be pursued instead. Rather than putting a straight channel through a subdivision, for example, Debo suggests designing one to meander through it, to decrease the velocity of the water as it exits.

The hardest part of managing urban flooding is reconciling it with Americans’ insistence that they can and should be able to live, work, and play anywhere. Waterborne transit was a key driver of urban development, and it’s inevitable that cities have grown where flooding is prevalent. But there are some regions that just shouldn’t become cities. “Parts of Houston in the floodway, parts of New Orleans submerged during Katrina, parts of Florida—these places never should have been developed in the first place,” Debo concludes. Add sea-level rise and climate-change superstorms, and something has to give.

Debo is not optimistic about resisting the urge toward development. “I don’t think any of it’s going to happen,” he concedes. “Until we get people in Congress and in the White House who care about the environment, it’s just going to get worse and worse.”

Even so, there’s reason for optimism. If good stormwater management means good, site-specific design, then ordinary people have a role to play, too. Residential homeowners who install a new cement patio or driveway might not even realize that they are channeling water down-grade to their neighbors, or overwhelming a local storm drain. Citizens can also influence stormwater issues within their municipalities. Many folks know that they have a local city council and school board, but local planning, zoning, and urban design agencies also hold regular public meetings—unfortunately, most people only participate in this aspect of local governance when they have an axe to grind. For the average American concerned with the deluge, the best answer is to replace an occasional, morbid curiosity with flooding with a more sophisticated, long-term interest in stormwater management.


Tropical Storm Harvey raises red flags on over-development in poor soil, proper water infrastructure, climate planning

Tropical Storm Harvey, which has shattered longstanding weather records, would've spelled disaster for just about any city it struck. After all, parts of the Houston area have received half their annual rainfall in just a few days' time.

Yet Houston is not an ordinary city when it comes to flood infrastructure. And this flood has lessons for policymakers at all levels of government — including President Donald Trump — about how to protect Americans in an era of rising disaster risks related to population growth, aging infrastructure, and climate change.

To some extent, the scenes of a major American city underwater seems like Mother Nature's riposte to the Trump administration, which has spent 7 months methodically reversing the climate change policies enacted of President Barack Obama. From the planned pullout of the Paris Climate Agreement to an executive order pulling back Obama-era protections mandating that infrastructure plans take sea level rise into account, Trump is setting more American cities up for future Harvey-level disasters.

The Houston flood is likely to go down in history as the worst flood in any U.S. city on record.

That's no surprise to experts who have long warned about Houston's vulnerability to tropical storms and hurricanes. The city is low-lying, rapidly growing, and its government is paying little attention to long-term disaster risk management and resilience.

History is replete with examples of severe Houston floods, including Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which killed 41 and caused $9 billion in damage, as well as flooding in 2016 that shut down the city for days.

Houston is America's poster child of sprawl — with development policies that give little regard to the need for drainage systems. The city is criss-crossed by a complex network of bayous that are easily overwhelmed by heavy rain, made worse by sudden inflows of water from impervious surfaces like concrete.

“Given that you have a city of 6.5 million people with a floodplain mostly paved over and populated, there’s a risk of this always,” said Adam Sobel, a professor of Earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University.

River gauge showing record flooding on Aug. 28, 2017.

Image: usgs/NOAA

Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, said Houston is a "perfect storm" of flood risk due to population growth, crumbling infrastructure, and development based on the "obsolete assumption" that we have a stable climate. Houston's infrastructure flaws and extraordinary vulnerability to hurricanes were detailed in investigative reporting published last year by Pro Publica and the Texas Tribune.

Was this climate change? Sort of

Sobel, Hayhoe and others say that climate change may have played an important, but backseat role in creating the Houston flood disaster, with development decisions serving to more sharply heighten Houston's vulnerability to flash flooding.

“I think it’s clear that this storm or something close to it could’ve happened without any climate change," Sobel said, adding that climate change may have exacerbated the storm's hazards.

As for global warming's possible role in this event, climate scientists say there are aspects of this storm that are suspicious, and may point toward possible links to global warming.

One is the sheer amount of rain, upwards of 40 inches already, with final rainfall totals of 50 inches not out of the question. If this is reached, it would set an all-time Texas record.

Another is the sheer tenacity of the storm, which has remained a named tropical storm longer than any landfalling tropical cyclone in Texas' history, according to hurricane statistics expert Philip Klotzbach of Colorado State University.

The science linking Harvey to global warming is tenuous, however, but may be firmed up over time by peer reviewed studies.

Scientists suspect that the storm has lasted longer over land and dumped more rain than it otherwise would have, thanks to the ability of a warmer atmosphere to contain more moisture.

Studies published in the past few years have shown that extreme precipitation events are becoming more common and more extreme in many parts of the world as the air and oceans continues to warm, and that this trend is expected to continue.

With tropical storms and hurricanes, computer model simulations show that future storms are likely to be wetter, posing even greater inland flood challenges than we're used to now.

There are elements of Harvey that stand out, including the 16.07 inches of rain that fell in Houston on August 27, setting a record for the wettest day in that city's history. The storm has dropped so much rain in southeast Texas that the National Weather Service had to add a new color to its maps.

Scientists are likely to conduct extreme event attribution studies on the heavy rainfall from Hurricane Harvey, Sobel said, and these are likely, though not guaranteed, to show a climate change-related increase in the odds for such extreme rainfall amounts.

“If I had to guess what those studies to show they’ll indicate that rainfall was magnified somewhat by the warmer atmosphere so that whatever the cost of this event… it will be a little higher than it would’ve otherwise been,” Sobel said.

Hayhoe agrees, saying, “Will there be more rain associated with a given hurricane? That is not a hard question to answer: The answer is yes.”

The rainfall totals have reached a historic magnitude in large part because the storm has sat nearly stationary since Saturday, pulling in moisture off the Gulf of Mexico and dumping it on southeast Texas.

Tropical Storm Harvey has been caught between two high pressure areas, a strong one to the west and another to the east. These have left it up to its own devices, as upper level steering currents collapsed.

This lack of movement is unlikely to be related to global warming, Sobel and others said, but some research has shown a possible link between blocking high pressure areas, stuck weather patterns, and global warming.

“Every event has many causes and the predominant one is always natural. But climate change can amplify the odds,” Sobel said.

Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, said the historic rains can be thought of as the result of a combination of a climate change-related increase in water vapor plus a big contribution from natural weather patterns, which can greatly amplify the water vapor present in a given storm.

Chart showing the level of scientific confidence in attributing types of extreme weather events to climate change.

Image: national academy of sciences

"The outstanding thing about recent storms has been the prodigious rainfalls: over Louisiana one year ago, and the with [Hurricane] Matthew in October last year," he said in an email.

"In both cases record amounts of total column water vapor (called precipitable water) were recorded with radiosondes. No wonder the flooding occurred," Trenberth said, referring to measurements from weather balloons.

Hayhoe said reducing flood risk in cities like Houston will require sustained investments in improved infrastructure. Such actions would need to take into account the fact that our climate is changing, and that what was once a 500-year-flood is now closer to a 1-in-50 year event.

“If we build based only on what we’ve seen in the past, we won’t be able to cope with the naturally-occurring weather and extreme events that we get today, many of which are being exacerbated by the changing climate,” she said.

“Unfortunately, long-term planning and investment is not really a hot topic or a soundbite these days for many politicians,” she said. “It’s a very difficult thing t

o do.”



Houston Wasn’t Built for a Storm Like This


It won’t be next time either.

By Henry Grabar

A submerged car is seen on Interstate 610 North on Sunday in Houston as the city battles with tropical storm Harvey and resulting floods.

Thomas B. Shea/AFP/Getty Images

Houston is in the midst of what appears to be the worst flooding to strike a major U.S. city since the levees broke in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Henry Grabar

Hurricane Harvey has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it was never the water from the ocean that Houston had to fear but the water from the sky. And the rain just keeps on coming, even as flooding has rendered major freeways impassable. Buffalo Bayou, the meandering river that passes through the center of the city, is expected to crest 14 feet above its previous record. Overhead video shows vast areas of the city’s single-family home neighborhoods swamped by brown water. Downtown is an island. More rain is projected through Tuesday.

America’s fourth-largest city is still full of people: Citizen flotillas of kayaks and outboards are rescuing Houstonians from cars, trucks, rooftops, and second-floor windows, complementing a severely overwhelmed official relief effort. On Sunday afternoon, emergency service lines were so inundated that callers could only get busy signals, the Houston Chronicle’s Lydia DePillis reported. At one point the wait for 911 was two-and-a-half hours, a Houstonian told Laura Nelson of the Los Angeles Times. Texans are using Twitter to ask people to save their lives. And many of us are wondering who is to blame.

The immediate question is why local officials did not encourage people to evacuate. On Friday, as the Hurricane neared landfall, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a somewhat half-hearted warning to residents along the coast: “Even if an evacuation order hasn’t been issued by your local official, if you’re in an area between Corpus Christi and Houston, you need to strongly consider evacuating.”

But that suggestion was contradicted by local officials in Houston and its many suburban cities, who said, basically: This isn’t the Jersey Shore or the Outer Banks or even New Orleans. “You can’t put—in the city of Houston—2.4 million people on the road,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a press conference on Sunday, defending the decision. Together with surrounding Harris County, 6.5 million people would have had to leave—including tens of thousands of people without transportation and more than 550,000 undocumented immigrants who fear the federal and state governments. Many Houstonians remember 2005, when an attempted evacuation for Hurricane Rita created the worst traffic jam in the city’s history and killed as many people as the hurricane itself—through heat stroke, and a bus that caught fire. The freeways where motorists sat stranded during Rita are underwater now. During last year’s floods, most deaths also occurred in cars.

One underlying cause of Houston’s suffering is that developers and town officials in Harris County, which contains Houston, have for years advocated the development of the wetlands and prairies around the city—land that had long served to absorb the rainwater that now overwhelms the region’s sewers and streams every year. The flood-absorbent grasslands of the Katy Prairie have been cut by three-quarters over the past few decades as Houston sprawled west. The state played along, funding expansion of I-10, “the Katy Freeway,” and another road, the Grand Parkway, which further opened that land up for development. To make matters worse, money-hungry officials also encouraged development in low-lying, flood-prone areas without regard to future risk. There have been more than 7,000 units built in the hundred-year floodplain since 2010, according to a ProPublica/Texas Tribune analysis. Efforts to reform the city's building codes have been met with strong resistance in an area where homebuilding has been a major economic engine.

Last year, the longtime head of the Harris County flood control district, Mike Talbott, told ProPublica that his agency had no plans to study the impact of climate change on the region’s flooding problems. Here’s a quote from that article, which is well worth reading in full:

Of the astonishing frequency of huge floods the city has been getting, he said, “I don't think it's the new normal.” He also criticized scientists and conservationists for being “anti-development.”

“They have an agenda ... their agenda to protect the environment overrides common sense,” he said.

Still, the debates over evacuation and development are spurious confronted with a storm this size, and the trend it represents: a strength and frequency of weather events that challenge all previous notions of risk assessment. This is the third straight year that Houston has endured a devastating, once-in-a-lifetime flood. There were the Memorial Day floods in 2015 and the Tax Day floods in 2016. Together the storms killed 16 people and caused more than $1 billion in damage. More than a third of the properties that flooded in Houston’s 2015 Memorial Day floods were located outside the “hundred-year floodplain,” the zone in which FEMA requires homeowners with government-backed mortgages to elevate homes or buy flood insurance. Now with Harvey, Houston has been hit with six “hundred-year storms” since 1989. 

Early Sunday, the National Weather Service essentially threw up its hands:

Even the president seemed to have a sense that something extraordinary was afoot. “We have an all out effort going, and going well!” the president tweeted from Camp David on Sunday morning. “Even experts say they’ve never seen one like this,” he added later.

Here’s how the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang described it:

The total rainfall from the storm is likely to tally up to a widespread 15 to 30 inches, with a few localized spots picking up 50 inches or more. Many textbooks have the 60-inch mark as a once-in-a-million-year recurrence interval, meaning that if any spots had that amount of rainfall, they would essentially be dealing with a once-in-a-million-year event.

Cities are built around levels of expected risk, ascertained by residents and businesses and enforced by finance and insurance and government. Will a bank loan you the money to build that house, or to buy it? Will an insurer back those loans? Will a city official permit it? It now seems clear that in the case of Houston, those estimates—forged on years of historical data—have been decimated by the planet’s changing atmosphere.

It does not make sense to say climate change “caused” a hurricane. But, as the climate scientist Michael Mann wrote, "it exacerbates several characteristics of the storm in a way that greatly increased the risk of damage and loss of life.” And at the Atlantic, Rob Meyer has a thoughtful evaluation of the ways in which climate change has enabled larger, more dangerous, faster-growing storms. The oil capital of the world drowned by an atmosphere teeming with greenhouse gases.

The science isn’t certain, of course. But the extremity of the storm is. No land-use regime can proof a city for 50 inches of rain. Perhaps it is possible to move 6.5 million people out in 48 hours, but we have yet to accomplish it. The problem Houston has is more severe. Until the modern era, it was routine for disasters—mostly fire, flood, and pestilence—to serve as checks on the growth of urban centers. We have almost forgotten that used to happen, but it’s not unheard of: The population of New Orleans fell by half after Katrina, and remains about 15 percent smaller than it was in 2005. (About 100,000 of those people settled in Houston.) After three straight years of catastrophic floods, America’s fastest-growing city may be reaching a turning point.

Top Comment

A few of observations commenting from Houston right now a few hours later: 1) I don't mean to trivialize it when people lose their homes, but right now 97% of Houston has power and a higher percentage have completely dry... More...


19-year-old Jennah DiSclafani (in other articles, the name is shown as Jennah Mae DeSalafani) and her best friend, Mariah Gomez, 20, who were killed in a horrific drunk-related crash.

Mariah Gomez, 20, was killed in a horrific drunk-related crash.

DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE, UNLESS YOU WANT TO DIE: 2 recent high school drunk grads killed in speeding car crash outside shopping mall in Paramus, New Jersey

Since she was injected, along with the other 3 drunks, from the speeding car, she was not wearing a seat belt and none of the other did.  What a waste of young lives!  They drink and drive and speed and do not wear seat belts.  This is an example of what not to do!

Monday, August 28, 2017 PARAMUS, New Jersey (WABC) -- Two recent high school graduates were killed when their car flipped in a parking lot in Paramus over the weekend, and on Sunday night, hundreds of people came together to honor their lives.

Loved ones and classmates turned out at Century Field in Garfield for 19-year-old Jennah DiSclafani (in other articles, the name is shown as
Jennah Mae DeSalafani) and her best friend, Mariah Gomez, 20, who were killed in a horrific drunk-related crash.

"There was never a time that they weren't smiling or happy," friend Bryan Rodriguez said. "It seemed like they didn't go through the pain other people went through."

Mourners lit candles and held each other, and they prayed and sent balloons to heaven. They even laughed a bit as they remembered the young women. But mostly they wept for the piece of them that is now missing.

DiSclafani just graduated from Garfield High School this year. Her cousin, Brittany Graff, wore DiSclafani's cheerleading jacket.

"She always made me smile, and I always looked up to her," Graff said. "I always wanted to be just like her."

Another cousin, Carly DiSclafani, said she lived life to the fullest.

"She was so fun, and she was so kind to everyone," she said. "It's terrible. We're broken. We don't know how to deal with it."

Police say it was around 1 a.m. Sunday when a white Ford Mustang flipped over several times and ended up in the near the Bergen Town Center Mall parking lot off of Route 4 in Paramus. All four occupants of the car were tossed from the vehicle. DiSclafani was killed almost instantly.

The other three victims, two Garfield women and a 23-year-old Paterson man, were rushed to the hospital. The other victim, whose family did not want her name used, (
Mariah Gomez, 20) later died. The other woman remains hospitalized with serious injuries, while the man was treated and released.

The driver was identified as Jasmine Cruz, 23, who police say was intoxicated and operating the vehicle in a reckless manner. She is now charged with two counts of second-degree death by auto and DWI.

Yet another early a.m. drunk-related crash.  Here we have Hispanic, black and white trash drinking and driving and not wearing seat-belts and dying and injured.  Darwin's Theory at work here, the survival of the fittest.  These young people were not fit to live responsible lives and they end up dying or injuring themselves for life.  All of them come from broken or divorced homes with little supervision, looking for a quick "high" to get by in life.  Learn and live.


PARAMUS, N.J. – The driver in a Route 4 rollover crash in Paramus that killed two Garfield women was charged Monday with two counts of death by auto and DWI, authorities announced.

Jasmine Cruz, 23, also of Garfield, was “operating the vehicle in a reckless manner and intoxicated” when her 2001 Ford Mustang rolled several times off the highway and into the parking lot of the Olive Garden at Bergen Towne Center, Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal said.

Killed in the 1:09 a.m. crash Sunday were Mariah Gomez, 20, and Jenna DiSclafani, 18 , Grewal said.

Injured were Cruz and Kevin A Coiro, 23, the prosecutor said.

All four were ejected from the vehicle, he said.

Cruz remained hospitalized Monday. 


GARFIELD, N.J. – Jennah DiSclafani, a 2017 Garfield High School graduate, died in a motor vehicle accident early Sunday morning.

A vigil was held Sunday night for DiScalfani and her best friend Mariah Gomez, 20, of Garfield, who also died in the drunk-driving rollover crash, according to multiple media reports.

The driver in the crash, Cruz, was charged Monday with two counts of death by auto and DWI, authorities announced.

DiScalfani, 19, excelled in track and was a cheerleader and softball player, reports say.   Of course she got together with the wrong crowd, and she end up dying in the drunk-related car crash.  Since she was injected, along with the other 3 drunks, from the speeding car, she was not wearing a seat belt and none of the other did.  What a waste of young lives!  They drink and drive and speed and do not wear seat belts.  This is an example of what not to do!

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help DiScalfani’s family with funeral expenses.

“Please help us help this beautiful family bury their daughter,” the page states.

To donate or leave a message of sympathy, click here


Mariah Gomez, 20, was killed in a horrific drunk-related crash.  She was not wearing a seatbelt

GARFIELD, N.J. – Family and friends of Mariah Gomez, 20, of Garfield, are raising funds for her funeral expenses.

Gomez was one of two Garfield women killed in a rollover crash on Route 4 in Paramus early Sunday morning. Her friend, Jennah Mae DiSclafani, 19, also died in the accident .

The driver, Jasmine Cruz, 23, has been charged with two counts of death by auto and DWI.

“Mariah’s life was cut too short, she was only twenty years old looking forward to a lifetime of adventures,” states a GoFundMe page created Monday to raise funds for her funeral expenses.

“Her friends and family … are devastated,” the page states.

Nearly $1,000 had been raised by Tuesday afternoon. To donate or leave a message of sympathy, click here .

A GoFundMe page was also created to raise funds for DiSclafani's funeral. 


My Son Kevin yesterday told me that the policeman told him that the reason he survived was because he did not have the safety belt of the car because obviously the belt saves lives and is necessary but that in the case of my son was the opposite, just 1 % of this case was beneficial if you didn't have the belt and that was it! Thank the Lord that his divine hand was who intervened in this

Carmen Coiro González
Kevin A Coiro, 23 and his brother.  Photo posted by their mother on Facebook

Kevin A Coiro, 23