‘What a crowd, what a turnout!’

‘What a crowd, what a turnout!’ September 3, 2017

• Houston blogger RMJ of Adventus offers an “Unhinged Rant About Harvey.” It’s angry — perhaps just exactly as angry as it ought to be.

Part of that actually well-hinged rant involves the need to rebuild Houston differently. Charles Kuffner points us to a couple of articles exploring what that will mean. It’s not a small task.

For a sense of what such a task entails, and the kind of vision and will it would require to succeed, I’d point again to the amazing true story of the Galveston seawall. Here’s a rat-a-tat summary of that story from the Galveston County Museum:

I’m awed by the audacity of that project. They raised the entire island using early 20th-century technology. They jacked up houses and businesses and even the cathedral, then filled in the space beneath them. And perhaps even more remarkable is what had to happen before all that was done: First a group of engineers had to stand up before the entire public and explain their wildly ambitious and impossible-seeming plan, with the whole city first listening, and then agreeing to it, knowing it would be expensive and unsettling and would take years to complete.

This is similar to the challenge now facing Houston. And Miami, too, even though that city hasn’t yet been forced to confront the reality of that in the way that Houston has.

Field discusses Donald Trump’s pledge to donate $1 million to aid the victims of Hurricane Harvey — and the long history of broken promises that reminds us that this man’s promises cannot be trusted. This goes way back — years before Trump entered the realm of politics. He long ago established a pattern of reaping praise by promising large charitable donations and then never writing the checks.

The most jaw-dropping story of this behavior from Trump is the first of many such anecdotes in David Farenthold’s 2016 piece, “Trump boasts about his philanthropy. But his giving falls short of his words.” It involves a fundraising event for a children’s charity in New York. Trump showed up and took a seat of honor on the dais, soaking in the goodwill of those there to celebrate a new nursery school for sick kids. Then, just as suddenly, he left without donating a penny.

• Also: “Hurricane Harvey Floods Toxic Waste Sites, With The EPA Missing In Action.”

Long a center of the nation’s petrochemical industry, the Houston metro area has more than a dozen such Superfund sites, designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as being among America’s most intensely contaminated places. Many are now flooded, with the risk that waters were stirring dangerous sediment.

… The Associated Press visited five Superfund sites in and around Houston during the flooding. All had been inundated with water; some were only accessible only by boat.

EPA spokeswoman Amy Graham could not immediately provide details on when agency experts would inspect the Houston-area sites. She said Friday that EPA staff had checked on two other Superfund sites in Corpus Christi and found no significant damage.

… President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget seeks to cut money for the Superfund program by 30 percent, though congressional Republicans are likely to approve a less severe reduction.


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