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The Effect of Hurricanes in Overdeveloped Areas

Articles suggest wetlands loss contributes to flooding

August 29, 2017
A prairie pothole marsh in Harris County, Texas (Andrew Sipocz)

Two articles on Quartz Media speak to the before and after effects of hurricanes in Gulf Coast states.

Above: A prairie pothole marsh in Harris County, Texas (Andrew Sipocz)

The first Quartz article, Houston's Flooding Made Worse by Unchecked Wetland Development, provides an interactive satellite image that illustrates what happens when urban development has no guidance. According to Quartz writers Ana Campoy and David Yanofsky, the Houston area's wetland loss due to lax building restrictions are responsible for a double gut punch:

  • In some areas, up to 70 percent of Houston's wetlands have been paved over in the last 18 years. Wetlands and prairies soak up rainfall.
  • Only about 15-25 percent of homeowners are required by federal regulations to have flood insurance due to outdated flood zone data.

A Texas A&M study, Houston-Area Freshwater Wetland Loss 1992-2010, shows county by county how Houston has removed places for water to go.

The second Quartz Media article, How Hurricanes Affect Construction Jobs, takes a statistical look at the spike in construction jobs directly following a catastrophic storm and then the surprising drop in some areas.

Image courtesy of Texas A&M

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