Viridian Note 00247: Houston Flood of 02001Bruce Sterling [email@example.com]
Attention Conservation Notice: A lot of press clippings that describe Texans suffering from a strange giant rainstorm. Almost 4,000 words.
Entries in the Viridian Hot Rod Contest:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org^^^** (Ben Davis)
This contest ends July 5, 02001.
(((About a yard of rain just fell on Houston, world capital of the oil industry. Unfortunately for poetic justice, ExxonMobil, "Climate Villain #1," is located in Irving, Texas, rather than Houston. Irving is not yet drenched. Enron is GW Bush's major energy company backer, and Enron's former CEO Ken Lay is the eminence gris of the Bush energy policy. Enron is headquartered in Houston. Specifically, on 1400 Smith Street, in the 77002 area code. I just talked to an Enron security guy by phone there, but he assures me that they are not, in fact, washing away. So far, anyhow.)))
Corporate Headquarters Enron Corp. 1400 Smith Street Houston, TX 77002 Tel: (713) 853-6161 Source://www.enron.com
"Enron's Views on Global Climate Change
"Enron believes that companies and institutions worldwide must find efficient ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that result from normal economic activities. The lack of scientific certainty over climate change does not justify inaction. Continued scientific research and rigorous economic analysis is necessary == but meaningful, cost-effective, and flexible mitigation activities can be taken now..."
(((For instance: bailing, sweeping broken glass, re- shingling, and getting the President to declare a federal emergency.)))
"President Declares Major Disaster For Texas
"Washington, June 9, 2001 == The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today that President Bush has declared a major disaster for Texas, opening the way for the use of federal funds and resources to help meet the recovery needs of people and communities victimized by the effects of Tropical Storm Allison.
"FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said the President took the action immediately after receiving the state's expedited request for federal assistance. The declaration covers damage to private and public property from the storm that began affecting the state on June 5. (...)
"After the declaration, Allbaugh designated the following 28 counties eligible for aid to stricken residents and business owners: Anderson, Angelina, Brazoria, Cherokee, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Smith, Trinity, Tyler and Walker." (((An area larger than some European countries, but who's counting.)))(...)
TROPICAL DEPRESSION ALLISON Storm Summary STORM SUMMARY NUMBER 18 FOR THE REMNANTS OF T.D. "ALLISON" NATIONAL CENTERS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PREDICTION HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL PREDICTION CENTER...NWS...CAMP SPRINGS MD 500 PM EDT SAT JUN 09 2001 THE AREA OF LOW PRESSURE ASSOCIATED WITH THE REMAINS OF "ALLISON" WAS BECOMING QUITE ELONGATED ALONG A NORTHEAST- SOUTHWEST AXIS...BUT A CENTER WAS STILL DISCERNIBLE NEAR 29.0N 95.4 W...OR ABOUT 35 MILES WEST- SOUTHWEST OF GALVESTON...(...) WESTERLY WINDS ALOFT ARE DRIFTING THE SYSTEM TOWARDS THE EAST AT 5 MPH...WHICH IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS...SENDING IT BACK INTO THE EXTREME NORTHWESTERN GULF OF MEXICO THIS EVENING. (((There the storm can suck up more moisture. and might well return in force.))) (...) RADAR ESTIMATES OF THE STORM TOTAL OVER THE LAST FIVE DAYS EXCEED 20 INCHES ACROSS THE LOWER ATCHAFALAYA RIVER IN SOUTH CENTRAL LOUISIANA AND ACROSS THE HOUSTON METROPOLITAN AREA. AN AREA BETWEEN CONROE AND WILLIS RECEIVED OVER 20 INCHES DURING FRIDAY NIGHT/SATURDAY MORNING ALONE. (((You heard them: 20 inches in one night.))) A MAJOR FLOOD EVENT...MORE PROLIFIC AND INTENSE THAN DURING T.S. FRANCES IN 1998...IS NOW UNDERWAY ACROSS SOUTHEAST TEXAS AND SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA. SECTIONS OF I-10 AROUND HOUSTON WERE SO DEEPLY FLOODED THIS MORNING THAT ONLY THE TOPS OF SEMI-TRACTOR TRAILERS WERE VISIBLE. (((Nothing left of 'em but those protruding diesel pipes, apparently.))) REPORTS OF EXTENSIVE FLOODING CONTINUE TO COME IN FROM SOUTHEAST TEXAS AND SOUTHERN LOUISIANA. AN ADDITIONAL 4 TO 6 INCHES OF RAIN...WITH ISOLATED MUCH HEAVIER AMOUNTS... IS LIKELY TO FALL ACROSS EXTREME SOUTHEASTERN TEXAS AND EXTREME SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS... SELECTED STORM TOTALS FOR ALLISON SINCE TUE 7 AM CDT (ALL AMOUNTS THROUGH 1 PM CDT UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED): (((Check out these rain levels. My goodness:))) THIBODAUX LA............. 22.33 inches (THROUGH 7 AM CDT) HOUSTON HOBBY TX............20.58 SALT POINT LA...............18.83 BATON ROUGE LA..............18.37 BREAUX BRIDGE LA............18.05 (THROUGH 7 AM CDT) JACKSON LA..................17.11 (THROUGH 7 AM CDT) HOUSTON CLOVER FIELD TX.....16.43 BRUSLY 2 W LA...............15.79 (THROUGH 7 AM CDT) PATTERSON LA................14.83 PONTHCATOULA LA.............14.71 (THROUGH 7 AM CDT) BAYOU MACHAC LA.............14.33 (THROUGH 7 AM CDT) LAFAYETTE LA................14.23 MAGNOLIA LA.................14.19 (THROUGH 7 AM CDT) OAKNOLIA LA.................14.19 (THROUGH 7 AM CDT) GRETA/TERRYTOWN LA..........14.16 (THROUGH 7 AM CDT) GLOSTER MS...................8.99 (THROUGH 7 AM CDT) THE FORECASTERS AT THE NEW ORLEANS...LAKE CHARLES...AND THE HOUSTON/GALVESTON OFFICES ARE DEEPLY THANKED FOR COMPILING/COORDINATING RAINFALL AMOUNTS FOR THESE STORM SUMMARIES OVER THE PAST FEW DAYS DURING EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES. (((Nice act of gallantry there, guys; hope you don't have to get used to it.))) Source: Jeff Franks, Reuters
Houston Swamped by Rains From Allison Remains Updated: Sat, Jun 09 2:51 PM EDT
"HOUSTON (Reuters) == Massive rains from the remnants of
Tropical Storm Allison inundated Houston and southeastern
Texas on Saturday, forcing thousands of people from their
flooded homes and bringing the nation's fourth largest
city to a virtual standstill.
"Parts of the city received 26 inches of rain in a
downpour that began on Friday afternoon and continued most
of the night, officials said. Since Allison struck on
Tuesday, 35 inches of rain have fallen, they said.
(((That's almost three feet.)))
"Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared a state of emergency
for Houston and 28 east Texas counties and authorized the
use of state equipment to help rescue stranded residents.
"Mayor Lee Brown appeared stunned after surveying the
damage from a helicopter.
"'It's unbelievable what's happening here. We have
problems all over the city, flooding all over downtown and
every other part of the city,' Brown told reporters.
(((Why do mayors always say stuff like that?)))
(...) "Television reports showed vast sections of the
city under water that in some cases reached the rooftops
of homes or filled road underpasses to the brim. Stalled
cars and trucks could be seen floating in streets that
looked like rivers.
"Every freeway in the city was closed due to high
water and creeks and bayous looked like vast lakes instead
of the small, meandering streams they usually are.
"Officials said at least 3,000 homes and buildings had
been damaged and 17,000 families displaced. The Red Cross
opened shelters throughout the city to accommodate the
"Harris County Judge Robert Eckels said he expected the city has suffered 'hundreds of millions of dollars' in damages. (((Might be even bigger than Enron's profits! Are you listening, Munich Re, Swiss Re? How long before these weather damages are bigger than the oil industry?)))
"HELICOPTERS PLUCK PEOPLE FROM ROOFTOPS
"The U.S. Coast Guard was called in to help pluck people
from their rooftops with helicopters and to pump out a
critical AT&T telephone switching center before rising
waters blew its circuits. (((The first of many Wexelblat
Disasters raises its ugly head; phone switching center
"Continental Airlines, which is based in Houston, said
high water was keeping employees from getting to work,
forcing the nation's fifth largest air carrier to shut
down operations at its main hub, Houston Intercontinental
Airport. (((Air transport blows out.)))
"'We think today we'll end up canceling a thousand
flights,' spokesman Ned Walker told reporters. 'We're
going to suspend all of our operations at Intercontinental
"The Texas Medical Center, which with 13 hospitals is
one of the world's largest medical facilities, suffered
heavy flooding damage and was seeking to transfer patients
to hospitals in Austin and San Antonio, a spokesman said.
(((Health system blows out.)))
"Allison brewed up suddenly in the Gulf of Mexico on
Tuesday and quickly came ashore, moving inland over
southeast Texas. It lost its 60 mph winds almost
immediately. (((Very little warning. Sinister little
(...) "Parts of Louisiana received nearly two feet of
rain the past four days, causing officials to declare a
state of emergency in 21 of the state's 64 parishes. Gov.
Mike Foster activated 1,000 National Guardsmen to help
evacuate some of an estimated 1,100 families affected by
the storm. (((Sorry, Cajuns, but at least you know how to
live in a swamp.)))
"The National Weather Service said Houston could get another 10 inches of rain on Saturday evening and raised the specter that the remains of Allison could drift back to the Gulf of Mexico and regain strength over its warm waters." (((Smacked twice by the same event? It happened to Paris in the Tempests of December 01999))).
Saturday June 9 8:48 PM ET
"Two Die in Texas Floods
By MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press Writer
"HOUSTON (AP) == Thousands of people were forced from
their homes or stranded on flooded freeways Saturday as
torrential rains from the remnants of Tropical Storm
Allison swamped Houston and Southeast Texas.
(((Houston Mayor)))Brown said an earlier estimate of
3,000 homes and business damages was 'very conservative.'
'Some complete subdivisions are flooding over,'he said.
"The Texas Medical Center was hit with power outages
because emergency generators were flooded. Some telephone
service was interrupted. The city's 911 service was
overwhelmed, and traffic signals were a mess. ((((911
down, traffic signals down.))) Police Chief Clarence
Bradford said there were only a few reports of vandalism
or looting. (((It's too wet to go outside and steal
"President Bush on Saturday declared a 28-county
disaster area, ordering federal aid to supplement state
and local recovery efforts. Bush spent the weekend at his
Crawford ranch, about 175 miles northwest of Houston.
(((Is it too much to ask that a freak F3 tornado spins off
the edge of the storm and... well, yeah, it is.)))
"Stranded on highways along with vacationers and
residents, long-haul truckers == their rigs stalled and
damaged by flash floods == bunked in their cabs, brewed
coffee and aided motorists whose 'four-wheelers' sank or
floated in the rising water. (((So much for the SUV
"'I came up on this little BMW two-seater, and this
executive guy grabbed his briefcase and what he could out
of his car and got in,' Oklahoma City truck driver Daniel
Hock said Saturday. 'That was the last we saw of the car.
He just bought it; it had 18,000 miles on it.' (((Hardly
spewed any carbon at all, more's the pity...)))
"Trucker James Wilson had to swim from his truck. His
trailer was floating on Interstate 10, straddling the
center and pinned against a railroad trestle. His cab was
nowhere in sight.
'I tried to stay with it, but it was time to go,'
Wilson said. 'I ain't going to go down with the rig.'
(((Unlike the rest of us.)))
"'As soon as we rescue one person and drop them off,
we get diverted to another case,' Coast Guard spokesman
Rob Wyman said.
"Joining in the effort were military trucks big enough
to navigate through the deep water, said National Guard
spokesman Aaron Reed. ((("Khaki Green" to the rescue. The
Army is the climate policy.))) The guard also sent five
of its own helicopters to help.
"The deluge Friday and Saturday was produced by the
lingering remnants of Allison, the Atlantic hurricane
season's first named storm, which blew ashore on the Texas
coast on Tuesday, then quickly dwindled but refused to
leave. Some rain gauges in Houston showed 24-hour rainfall
amounts topping 20 inches.
"The effects of the storm extended beyond Texas. The
flooding disrupted access to an estimated 76,000 automated
teller machines in 22 states, said Julian Read, spokesman
for PULSE, a nonprofit electronic funds transfer network
of more than 2,600 banks. (((Pulse System goes down. A
Viridian newbie just sent me email asking what a
"Wexelblat Disaster" is. Well, it works like this: you're
trying to fly out of Houston but the airport's down, so
you try to call home but you can't, then your rental car
drowns, so you go to get some cash to stay in a hotel on
dry land and wow, how come there's no cash?)))
(((Now we start getting into the "Viridian Uncanny.")))
"Also in Louisiana, alligators agitated by the storm's
thunder, lightning and heavy rain wandered into
"Kathy Smith didn't believe her daughter had really
seen an alligator in their yard in LaPlace, La., until she
saw a neighbor trying to catch the critter Friday. 'I
said, 'You get him, and I'm about to call 911,' she said.
(((Hope 911's up and running.)))
"Trappers in Louisiana's St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parishes captured 40 alligators during the week. 'I'll release them back into the swamps unless they are big and aggressive,' said Richard Roussel IV, an alligator nuisance control officer for St. John Parish. (((Pure savoir faire those Louisianans; they really are the bellwether Greenhouse state.)))
June 9, 2001, 7:41PM
"Catastrophic flooding forces state of emergency for area
"And local officials, weary from marathon rescue and
relief efforts, blanched at the possibility that what
remains of Tropical Storm Allison is headed toward the
warm Gulf of Mexico waters where it could reorganize and
"Across Harris County, as many as 21,000 homes are
thought to be without power, phones and water, said County
Judge Robert Eckels. About 5,000 homes are flooded in the
"As many as 34,000 Reliant Energy/HL&P customers,
including hospitals, are without power this afternoon, a
Reliant spokeswoman said. (((Power network down. Send
some voltage over, California!)))
"Roughly 17,000 people were going to need some type of
temporary shelter and county officials ordered the Reliant
Astrohall opened for that purpose. Schools, churches and
other public facilities were also being opened as
shelters. ((("Reliant Astrohall" full of refugees. Nice
choice of corporate sponsors there.)))
(...) "Early today, Gov. Rick Perry declared a state of emergency in the Houston area and 28 Southeast Texas counties. Perry will visit the Houston area Sunday to get a first-hand aerial view of the devastation from severe flooding.
(...) "City Public Works crews continued to rescue residents around flooded areas today. About 200 people had been picked up and dropped off at shelters around the city, Ray said.
"Almost everything's affected (((a subhead with haiku-like
"The deluge == in which as much as 28 inches of rain
fell in the past 24 hours == has affected all aspects of
life in the area, from communications to transportation to
automated teller machines:
"*All Metro bus routes have been canceled today because
of high water. No buses are running, Metro Police said.
"*More than two feet of rain fell at Bush
Intercontinental Airport, forcing Houston-based
Continental Airlines to cancel all flights through 6 a.m.
Sunday there. Airline spokesman Ned Walker said that would
involve about 1,000 flights. The biggest problem was the
availability of crews and staff who couldn't get to the
Bush Intercontinental Airport, he said. (((Drowned cars
equals no planes at "Bush" airport.)))
"*Authorities shut down some local freeways in order to
clear broken-down vehicles. Currently, U.S. Highway 59
(Southwest Freeway) is shut down eastbound at the
Fondren/Bellaire exit. Interstate 10 is reportedly shut
down in spots, too. I-10 at T.C. Jester is submerged and
blocked by stranded vehicles, including massive 18-
wheelers that floated like a child's bathtub toys.
(((Poetry is not dead in modern journalism.))) In some
places, water is touching the bottom of freeway
underpasses, turning the low-lying roadways into lakes.
"*The city reported its communications system was down,
but communications are going ahead through hand-held
radios. The mayor said 911 service is working, but
stressed to only use the service in the case of a true
"*Eckels authorized workers to pump water out of an
AT&T switching center in the 1400 block of Jefferson,
saying he was told if that center went down, the area
would lose all wireless and long distance communication.
"*As of midafternoon, Reliant Energy/HL&P said about
34,000 of its 1.2 million Houston-area customers were
without power. Most of these were in Bellaire and the
Greenspoint and Humble areas, spokeswoman Alicia Dixon
said. She said the company's crews are having difficulty
reaching the areas where power is out, so service is being
"Restoring power to flooded hospitals in the Texas
Medical Center poses special problems, Dixon said. Because
power is supplied to the medical center through
underground cables, it is unsafe to restore electricity
until the water has subsided and the cables are dry.
((("The lightning missed me, but then I stepped on that
"*An estimated 76,000 ATMs in 22 states may be affected by weekend flooding in the Southeast Texas, a banking official said. Access to ATMs in the Pulse network was disrupted when the primary and secondary power supplies were flooded in Houston, said Julian Read, a spokesman for Pulse, a nonprofit electronic funds transfer network. It has more than 2,600 financial institution members. Also, an estimated 300,000 point-of-sale transactions == using an ATM at a cashier == may be affected.
"The Medical Center experienced severe flooding and
power outages. Many ambulances are unable to traverse the
high water in the area to deliver patients and there are
reports that some patients on automated life-support
machines were being kept alive by manual means. Hospital
officials are making arrangements to transfer the most
critical patients to other hospitals as far away as Austin
and San Antonio, city officials said. ((("Austin Welcomes
Manually Pumped Life Support Users' Group, Enjoy Your
"The Houston Fire Department has fielded 500 water
calls and 200 fire calls since 11 p.m. Friday night, city
officials said. (...)
"At 7 a.m. today, catastrophic flooding was reported
along Spring Creek near Spring on the north side of
Houston with water possibly near the rooftops of some
homes in Timberlake and Timberridge subdivisions in
Montgomery County and and the Spring Hills subdivision
south of The Woodlands.
"The National Weather Service reported that Clear
Creek in Friendswood southeast of Houston was rising
rapidly and was at 17.7 feet at 6:30 a.m. at FM 528. The
record flood level at that point is 19.1 feet. (...)
"The Coast Guard said the upper part of the Houston
Ship Channel was closed after 26 barges and two ships
broke free from moorings at the Port of Houston, clogging
one of nation's busiest waterways. (((Waterways blow
"An insurance trade group late Saturday doubled its
initial estimate of losses from the storms to at least
$120 million. The figure did not count damage to hundreds
of flooded homes, which must be covered by separate
federal flood insurance. (((Yeah. Sure.)))
"'This weather-related event continues to present
developing losses for insurers,' Jerry Johns, president of
the Southwestern Insurance Information Service, said. 'We
are far from being close to what this might cost the
insurance industry.' (((Make the coal companies pick up
(((Some nice human-angle stuff here.))) (...) "a woman
who called to say she was stuck in her attic at a home on
Valley Wind Drive in Houston, said Amy Askins, a Brazoria
County sheriff's dispatcher.
"Another woman called a friend in Brazoria County and
asked her to tell the sheriff's department she was stuck
in a van that was floating in the high water, Askins said.
"Allen Cannon, a 29-year-old engineer from Pearland,
called Brazoria County dispatchers when he couldn't reach
his wife, Shundra, who had checked into a motel at
Interstate 10 and Federal after floodwaters marooned her
in traffic. He last spoke with his wife, a 29-year-old
assistant principal at Welch Middle School, at 1 a.m.
today, he said.
"'She told me the water was to the level of the
mattresses on the first floor,' he said. 'She's on the
second floor. She's pregnant but she's got a friend with
"The worried husband said his wife sounded calm but her cellular phone battery was about to go dead." (...) (((You've got to love the 21st century.)))
"Meanwhile, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston will be
closed today and Sunday because of minor flooding in the
service area that has affected the air-conditioning and
telephone systems. No art has been damaged. (((Culture
industry blows out.)))
"Films and family activity scheduled today and Sunday
are canceled. Also, advanced tickets purchased for the
'Star Wars' exhibit for today and Sunday will be honored
at a later date. (((Hey, you can't shut down STAR WARS!
That all occurs in another galaxy, far far away!)))
"Rienzi and Bayou Bend are also closed for the
weekend. No art was damaged at those museums.
"Portions of the Alley Theater were under water
today. Performances for today and Sunday are canceled,
said Jennifer Garza, theater spokeswoman.
"'The Neuhaus Arena stage is submerged,' Garza said. The theater's costume and scene shop were also flooded, she said. (((They must have been running MACBETH.)))
(((The Viridian Uncanny. Imagine being this person.)))
"Woman drowns when elevator floods in basement
By ROSANNA RUIZ
"An unidentified 42-year-old law firm employee drowned
when water rushed into an elevator while at the basement
level of a downtown building, police said.
"The woman intended to move her car at about 5:30 a.m.
from the Bank of America's four-level underground parking
garage at 700 Louisiana, said Robert Hurst, a police
"'The woman went down in the elevator after a broadcast
was made in the building by the security department that
water was coming into the parking garage and anyone in the
building should go down and move their cars,' Hurst said.
"The woman, who was the only elevator occupant at the
time, drowned when water rushed into the elevator while on
the third level of the garage, Hurst said.
"'It appears that water began rushing into the
elevator and it malfunctioned and she drowned in the
elevator,' Hurst said. 'She didn't even make it to her car
parked on the fourth level.' (((Dead for an internal
"The woman's body was discovered about 8:30 after
maintenance crews noticed that the elevator had stalled
and they manually brought the elevator to the lobby level.
(((Imagine their surprise when the doors opened.)))
(...) "The woman and some of her colleagues had stayed the night at the law office in the bank building when they realized they could not make it home because of the flooding, Hurst said."
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O