Hurricane Harvey was one of the most powerful storms to hit the USA. Unlike most hurricanes, there was not much a risk of wind causing devastating damage, at least for Houston. Instead, the concern was rain and the resultant flooding. This was due to several factors. For one, the sheer volume of water was staggering: In a typical year Houston sees around 50 inches of rain. This slowly moving storm itself deposited around that much rain in three days. Secondly, Houston is essentially entirely flat, and the ground is less absorbent than most, and therefore the city has developed unique systems for directing and managing heavy rainfall. A network of mini rivers, called bayous, are scattered throughout the city, and direct water towards the Gulf of Mexico. Also, streets and highways have been engineered to act as water basins for times of high rates of rainfall. The idea is to deliver water to the bayous at a manageable rate and thus prevent them from overflowing. This works great provided that there is no massive storms. The hurricane was so intense, and the rainfall rate was so unprecedented, that everything failed. The roads, highways, and bayous all overflowed and flooded anything in their wake. A house’s elevation and its proximity to the nearest bayou determined if it flooded.
Thank God the neighborhood where we live is elevated and fairly far from the bayous and almost no houses were flooded. Some people lost power for a few hours (we did not lose power), the roads were impassable, but there was no significant damage. We had plenty of food and water (we stocked up in advance). In contrast, other neighborhoods that are closer to the Bayous experienced heavy catastrophic flooding. In these places, many feet of water would rush into homes. Some people had to go on the roof to avoid drowning. Sadly, the resplendant TORCH Centre suffered catastrophic damages.
The TORCH Centre during happier times
On Sunday during the height of the storm, Alex Gonik and his friend Hillel waded through the raging waters and videoed the TORCH Centre
By now the waters have receded in almost every part of Houston, but the damage remains. Houston as a city, and TORCH with respect to our Centre, face a monumental rebuilding efforts, that will be long and trying, but with the Almighty’s help we will forge ahead and rebuild it better than ever.
First up: Demo
The outpouring of love, care, and support from all over the world in the aftermath of the hurricane has been inspiring and heartwarming. It is comforting to know that others are deeply concerned about our well being.