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Hurricane Harvey

RE: Hurricane Harvey

it appears the storm is a slow mover and will be around for a couple of more days.

well, perhaps learning from/listening to the Dutch will be beneficial . . .

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Our oldest son lives in Katy, which is about 25 miles West of Houston. We just talked to him and he said it has already rained over 25 inches and that they've been told that it could rain another 25 before this is over. About an hour ago he facetimed with us and you could see where the water was starting to back-up into his yard. The streets are flooded and he says he's got only about 6 to 8 inches to go before it'll start to seep into his house.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Hurricane Harvey

(OP)
Sorry, my engineering brain took over. I should of waited until the crisis passes until I started the analysis. They'll be plenty of time for that later.
Thoughts and prayers to all residents, care givers and rescue personnel. It sounds like they need it.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Jed... timing was good...

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Our son's house is still dry this morning but the local bayou has overflowed it's banks and water was hip deep in the streets of his neighborhood. They're being warned to watch for alligators. He says it's still raining but it has let up a little from yesterday.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane coming? High water? Flooding?
No Problem: Duct Tape
(taken from a Houston-based website of storm photos)

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RE: Hurricane Harvey

I guess that's a great solution if the rest of the perimeter of the house is water tight.. which is almost certainly isn't.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Is it an engineering failure if the disaster was imminent and one did nothing to stop it?

“We’re sitting ducks. We’ve done nothing.” said Phil Bedient, an engineering professor at Rice University and co-director of the Storm Surge Prediction, Education, and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center. “We’ve done nothing to shore up the coastline, to add resiliency ... to do anything.”

It's Hurricane Katrina déjà vu all over again.

https://www.texastribune.org/hell-and-high-water/#

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Here is a webpage showing rainfall totals for the Houston area since the beginning of the storm. The Katy area, where our son lives, shows nearly 29 inches as of 9:00am CDT this morning.

http://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/discussions/nfdscc1.h...

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Hurricane Harvey

In the September 2017 issue of Mechanical Engineering magazine, of ASME, there is an article on protecting the Houston area from tropical storms and hurricanes. Sorry - it requires ASME membership to view the article online or I would link it.

Since Hurricane Ike made landfall between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula as a Category 2 with 15 foot storm surge back in September 2008, the greater Houston area has been studying and debating how to re-engineer their storm defenses...and how to fund those improvements. No doubt these events will give those discussions much more urgency.


About Houston, courtesy of the article I mentioned:
  • More than 90% of US offshore oil and gas production takes place in the Texas Gulf Coast area, and the Houston region contains the largest concentration of energy, petrochemical, and refining industries in the United States.
  • Houston is home to 25% of the country's refining capacity for downstream chemical production. It's also the fastest growing liquefied natural gas industry in the nation.
  • One third of the United States seafood harvest is taken from the Texas Coast.
  • The NASA Johnson Space Center - home of Space Station Mission Control - is located in Houston.
  • The greater Houston area includes the Port of Houston (ranks second in the nation), Beaumont's port (ranks fourth), and Texas City's port (ranks tenth).

RE: Hurricane Harvey

One of the issues is that no one had ever thought that 2 to 3 feet of rain could fall in one place in one or two days. NOAA has stated that this has never occurred. According to my morning paper, enough water has fallen on just Huston alone that would take the Mississippi river 9 days to drain! And that is just the rain, not storm surge, that has fallen to date. Houston is expecting another foot or two when Harvey returns.

Most hurricane migration efforts tend to deal with storm surge. With this event, storm surge is just the provably drop in the bucket.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

"NOAA has stated that this has never occurred"

Perhaps not in Houston, but NOAA should be well aware that the world record for 24-hr rainfall is 71.8 inches in 1966 and the record for 48-hr rainfall is 98.2 inches in 1995. The Texas coast has been hit with many severe storms in the past, Alicia, Allen, Barry, etc., resulting in flooding and deaths in Galveston, Brownsville, etc. Even Dallas got soaked with Norma.

It seems to me that hurricanes, and flooding, in general, seem to occur so often that the attitude is more of a, "meh, we'll just rebuild the same way we did last time."

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Hurricane Harvey

I think this is what it is. While we have broken a lot of cycles; the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the hydrologic cycle, etc.; it's tough to hang the fault for this on anything we have or haven't done. Unless you can tie this to climate change (I'm not going to make that reach), 3 to 4 feet of rain is 3 to 4 feet of rain.

We can't engineer our way out of that. So call this a planning disaster (we know there's the potential for this but plugged our ears and went lalalalalalalalala), or a risk management disaster (this is a 1 in 10? flood event and we are cool with everything getting destroyed when that happens), or even an emergency management disaster.

Whatever we call it, I hope the loss of life is not unnecessarily high.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Maybe the first engineering issue is not see or understanding the problem.

If I recall, there was a prediction that this storm could follow the path of a storm years before.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

I haven't made an effort to research this, but so far, I've heard nothing at all about storm surge damaging anything. And Houston is a good little ways from where the hurricane actually came in, so I don't know how much surge they had there.

When I was in high school, I think it was a hurricane blowing past on one side or the other that brought about 13" of rain to our area, but dumped about 27" of rain up in Alvin, just south of Houston. And yes, it flooded stuff. If I remember, that was 27" in 24 hours. Some of the rain numbers I'm hearing from the current situation are over the whole week or so, so it's hard to compare.

One problem with the information I see, it's obvious that there's a lot of water and flooding down there, but not obvious if that's 2% of Houston, or 10% or 90% or 98% or what.

My folks live south of there, and they haven't been flooded out- the major issue down that way has not been rain, but prediction of some of the rivers flooding from rain farther up the way.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

This will take 3-4 weeks to dry out and have water levels drop. All of the rain inland has to flow back to the gulf, where there is already too much water.
And now they are dumping the reservoirs, the Corps should have been dumping them a week ago.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, Plymouth Tube

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Latest from Fox News...

Recent communication from International Space Station... "Houston, you have a problem".

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


RE: Hurricane Harvey

From the reports that I've heard/read it appears that the impact of the storm surge was not as significant as it was first feared it would be. Perhaps that was due to the slower speed that the storm was moving when it first made ground fall or perhaps it hit land during a point where the tide was either receding or was already at it's lowest level of the cycle.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Hurricane Harvey

IRS: There are areas in India, the Bay of Bengal that have received (record) over 1000" of rainfall in a year and often have 800" of rainfall annually. Way too much water... close to 80'.

My condolences to all those affected; Harvey can have a huge and costly impact-personal as well as financial. Also, I'm a Climate Change person, and Harvey may just be a harbinger of the future... Repairs should address the future climate conditions... it appears that from the damage done by Katrina, that repairs were modest and some not yet undertaken.

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Lots of flooding around here. Luckily, my neighborhood didn't see any flooding, but a mile or two down the road is under water. I'm sure lots of my coworkers have been impacted since many of them live in areas that were severely flooded. Haven't been to work since last Friday (my work location is adjacent to Brays Bayou in the medical center). That area had 4 feet of water in the road. Most of the local stations are calling this event an 800 year flood event. Ironically, I think we had a 500 year event last year. So much for those odds.


Quote (EdStainless)

And now they are dumping the reservoirs, the Corps should have been dumping them a week ago.

Those reservoirs are normally dry parks/nature observation areas. There was nothing to dump a week ago.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

One aspect of a major disaster that I had never considered nor been aware of is the impact on the working poor.
I was called in to restore power to the island of Guanaja among the bay islands of Honduras after the island was hit four times in four days by Hurricane Mitch.
We got temporary power connected to a seafood processing plant and about 75 working poor went back to work.
We got the second seafood plant up and running and another 100 people went back to work.
Guanaja is a small island and those jobs were the majority of the displaced working poor.
Getting those people back to work was a major boost to the local economy.
It was a nice feeling.
On a scale of 1-5 Mitch was a 6.

Bill
--------------------
"Why not the best?"
Jimmy Carter

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Quote (Spartan5)

Whatever we call it, I hope the loss of life is not unnecessarily high.

Some of us might consider ANY loss of life to be "unnecessarily" high.

Please remember: we're not all guys!

RE: Hurricane Harvey

My mother in law and her boyfriend are 90+ year old snowbirds.

They are here right now, but maintain a residence on Spring Texas too.

His daughter cannot get to the house to see the condition.

They may be here for some time to come...

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


RE: Hurricane Harvey

Quote (SLTA)

Some of us might consider ANY loss of life to be "unnecessarily" high.
This may well be the case. Unfortunately all the engineering in the world won't stop some people from making stupid decisions or taking ill-advised risks (AKA "I don't need the government to tell me what to do, I gonna 'ride it out'"). Hence my qualifier.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

M^2:

Enjoy...

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

It's typically not economically feasible to design things for zero hazard. If you consider the current state of the flooded parts Houston, everything would need to be on 15-ft stilts.

So regardless of whether people consciously or unconsciously run the math, they typically decide to bet on the come, and as in craps, the roller will eventually lose.
Whether it's Texas and floods, or California with earthquakes, we're all betting that disaster won't strike in our lifetimes.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Talked to our son this morning. He says that the water has dropped about a foot in his neighborhood but that other housing tracts near his have had rescue operations underway in them and that families have had to be evacuated by boat to the local high school, including several friends of his daughters. So far he says that he has never lost power, although his cable TV and internet service is out.

His company is trying to reopen as many of their local restaurants as possible (they have three in the greater Houston area over which our son is directly responsible) so he's going to attempt to drive in to one of them where the flooding has not been as bad so as to help to try and get it open, but that's still about 15 miles from where he lives.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Hurricane Harvey

IRstuff - don't forget about Tornadoes - We here in the US midwest live under a constant "threat" of them - primarily spring and early summer.

But FEMA gives us this assurance that the chance of an F5 tornado is small:

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RE: Hurricane Harvey

No need to worry about a 5, an EF2 will do plenty of damage, as recently demonstrated. Great thing about a tornado, 3 minutes, it's over, you are good, or not.

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: Hurricane Harvey

If the "Not Invented Here" mindset counts, then maybe we can consider this a a computer science engineering disaster. Apparently the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts did have Hurricane Harvey forecast days in advance of the National Weather Service. Link

Sharing is Caring Link

RE: Hurricane Harvey

dik:

You are so much an optimist! noevil

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


RE: Hurricane Harvey

Thanks Mike...

I knew it wasn't going to happen... I was just hoping... same thing with some of the remedial work with Katrina, I understand.

You're missing the most important monkey, "Do No Evil."

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Quote:

although his cable TV and internet service is out

How do they keep the will to live?

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Quote:

One of the issues is that no one had ever thought that 2 to 3 feet of rain could fall in one place in one or two days. NOAA has stated that this has never occurred.

I don't know why NOAA makes these stupid statements. In addition to the above, one NOAA spokesman called Harvey a "500 year storm". In both 1900 and 1935 water levels in Houston reached more than twice the height of the predicted water levels from Harvey. Don't get me wrong, 40 ft of water in Downtown Houston is a very big deal, and the economic impact will be staggering (maybe even unprecedented due to the current population density in the Greater Houston area), but there were 2 hurricanes in the 20th century that put more water on the ground in Houston than Harvey will.

The hyperbole from NOAA and the media is making me sick, while the individual acts of bravery and kindness being reported make me proud to be an American. The folks-helping-folks stories are coming out by the thousands, a very different atmosphere than Katrina in New Orleans, but Houston is a very different place than New Orleans.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Hurricane Harvey

David, where are you getting this information?

1900 hurricane hit Galveston and killed as many as 8000 people: http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/bayarea/news/art...

1935 hurricane hit Florida, killing 408 people: http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/bayarea/news/art...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Texas_hurric...)

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Hurricane Harvey

The 1935 flood is described well at 1937 report on 1935 Houston flood. A listing of flooding in Houston says that this event caused water levels in the bayous to crest at 52 ft above normal (Harvey is expecting a crest about 28 ft above normal).

The listing above just says "Major hurricane makes landfall in Galveston. Harris County experiences widespread flooding" about the 1900 Hurricane that killed 6000-8000 in Galveston. The story that the bayous crested at 56 ft in Harris County was from a Facebook post that may or may not be accurate.

Harvey is horrible, but it isn't a 500 year storm or in any way unprecedented.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Here is a link to KHOU "LIVE" Link

RE: Hurricane Harvey

I just talked to my son and he says that it's sunny and clear in Katy (25 miles West of Houston).

As for their attempt to get at least a few of their restaurants open, he said someone at corporate has had second thoughts and while he did manage to finally get to the store closest to his house, all they did was clean-up spoiled food (there was no damage whatsoever to the building).

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Just to clarify, NOAA has been unfairly blamed for an erroneous combination of statements. What NOAA has said is that the 4-day rainfall record for the continental US was surpassed by Harvey at 49.32", exceeding the previous record of 48.00" in 1978. The US record 4-day rainfall is 52" in Hawaii.

Therefore, the "no one expected..." statement earlier is just random reporter BS.

NOAA's archived rainfall prediction from Friday was for 30-40 inches of rain: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2017/al09/al092017...

Note also "...CATASTROPHIC FLOODING EXPECTED DUE TO HEAVY RAINFALL AND STORM SURGE..."

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Hurricane Harvey

2
zdas04: It most certainly was a 500-year storm, if not greater.

I don't think you know what a 500 year storm is. It does not mean there will only be one every 500 years. It means that in any given year, there is a 1 in 500 chance of it happening. These things are defined. It is not a term randomly grabbed out of the air and slapped on a storm.

Considering that Houston has had 3 500-year storms in a row the past three years (a 1 in 125 million chance), one might think that these things are happening... well, more frequently than they should.

Given that the predicted return periods are based on past climatological observations, it might be safe to assume that the climate is... changing.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

To me, a 500 year storm is one of intensity that should only have a return period of 500 years... it doesn't mean that you can't have two in a week... it's just unlikely.

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Spartan5,
Your definition of a 500 year storm coincides with my definition. But who sets the probabilities? If you say that a storm that raises the water level in the Bayous by more than 20 ft has a one in 500 year probability, and it happens 4 times in a 117 years, then you might wonder if it is more likely that the interpretation of the climate record is flawed.

One thing that the climate observations have not taken into consideration is the change in land use. A 20 ft change in the Bayous in the year 1500 would have been a LOT more water than a 20 ft change today because the volume of the structures that 6.5 million people (in the SMSA) have constructed is huge, and the amount of pavement and elevated roadways is very large, both factors making the same volume of water rise to a much higher level. But the definition hasn't changed. A weather event that shows up in the archaeological record from the time of Christ would have a much smaller impact on the landscape than the same weather event today.

Rather than showing this event as a 500 year storm, which is smaller than at least two and probably three events in the 20th century, as a one in 125 million chance, change the definitions to account for land use and call it a 30 year flood.

And of course the climate is changing, the only constant in the natural world is that all things will try to move towards lower entropy (less organized) and when one thing lowers its entropy it will raise the entropy of something else. Nature is always changing, and the only way to mitigate that change is the input of huge amounts of energy.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Quote (Dik)

To me, a 500 year storm is one of intensity that should only have a return period of 500 years... it doesn't mean that you can't have two in a week... it's just unlikely.

'500 year storm', '100 year storm', '1,000 year storm', etc are scientifically defined terms- yours/my/Spartan/zdas opinions do not matter with regard to how meteorological data is compiled and reported.

The '500 year' storm nomenclature is also a local one- and doesn't refer to weather patterns on a national or global scale.

For reference, here's a nice Washington Post graphic showing '500 year' events recorded over the last 7 years

https://img.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/file...

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Future probabilities are based on past known events.

Should the data on which those probabilities change over time, so should future probabilities.

Every storm event changes the base for the picture.

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


RE: Hurricane Harvey

jgKRI: The intensity for the return period is strictly local. The Atacama desert 500 year return period may be a 2" rainfall.

Mike: Recent rain events will have a direct bearing on future probabilities... it's a moving target... and future 500 year return periods, for some affected areas, will be adjusted upwards.

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

It is not "my" definition of a 500 year storm. It is THE definition.

As for who "sets the probabilities" if you want some light reading on the matter, here is 295 pages that outlines the methodologies and data that is used to define the storms:
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oh/hdsc/PF_documents/Atlas...

And stop conflating the return period for storms with the return period for floods. The land use has no bearing on the return period for a storm. None. This event, the storm, is not smaller than any storm event in the 20th century. Specifically for Houston, or for anywhere else in the lower 48 for that matter. As for the floods, it would be great if they treated it like a 30 year flood... and actually deigned for it and mitigated the effects of our unfettered consumption of natural resources. Instead we celebrate Houston's haphazard sprawl across hundreds of square miles of land.

Regarding your comments on change, that "the only constant in the natural world is that all things will try to move towards lower entropy"; "all things" do not try to move towards lower entropy. Only energy. Take evolution for instance. Or, if that is against your system of beliefs, shake a jar of sand silt and clay up in some water and let me know if it is more or less organized when it all settles. Yes. Entropy is a thing. But as it pertains to climate change (anthropomorphic global warming), aside from the underlying fundamental law, it has nothing really at all to do with it.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Quote (mssquared48)

Future probabilities are based on past known events.

Should the data on which those probabilities change over time, so should future probabilities.

Every storm event changes the base for the picture.

This is true.

The other factor at work when we talk about '500 year' events of any kind is that those reclassifications of events, which will inevitably occur, are less valid until the data set is long enough that the true frequency of these events can be properly scaled. In 10 years or 50 years or 100 years, this '500 year' event might actually be determined to be a 100 year or 200 year (or 10 year) event.

In simple terms- we are calling this a '500 year' event, but we don't have 500 years of detailed flood data for the Gulf Coast. We don't actually know this to be a 500 year event- that statistical determination is based on some assumptions.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

2
The determination of whether an event is a 1-in-10, 1-in-100, or 1-in-500 year event needs to consider the long history as well as the short history.

Back in June of 2013, Calgary (Alberta) and area suffered a major flooding event, due to upstream rain combined with said rain melting substantial mountain snow. The prevailing scientific opinions at the time were that an event of this magnitude was at least a 1-in->500 year event. However, a post-facto evaluation of the event and the geological history that the flood event unearthed indicated that it was actually more like a 1-in-30/40 year event (source - see the last paragraph on page 10). It just turned out that the base-time period had been an unusually (but still statistically plausible) dry period.

Combine that with the rampant growth seen in the greater Houston area (Harris County population up 35% from 2000 to 2016(est) - source) and the concurrent land use (zdas04) and a lack of upgrades to the overall flood-management system, due in part to the fractured municipal structure in the region, and you have what we see here.

If we were to call such a rainfall/flood event a 1-in-30 year event, that would change how the engineers would (have to) manage it. Mislabeling it as a 1-in->500 year event is the real "engineering disaster" here.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

The discussion above reminds me of an incident I read of in Colorado. Seems like this was back in the 30's or so. Anyway, they built a big dam, and prepared for the lake to form behind for their irrigating pleasure. Said lake didn't form. It turned out, they had monitored rainfall over a 10-year period, but that was an uncommonly wet 10 year period, not to be repeated. Sort of the reverse of the situations above.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Spartan... it's a similar methology for storms and flood levels... just like snow loading...

We're saying the same thing... "Hydrologists are more likely to say that a 1000-year event has a 1000-year recurrence interval. The United States Geological Survey website further provides details on the procedure:"

This means that there is a 0.1% chance of it occurring in any year...


Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

2
I just came across a report of the comments from hydrologists and others involved in this subject. HDSC Comments has some very interesting discussion from actual experts in the field. They are nearly unanimous in decrying the quality of 500 year and 1000 year events, and their impact on the environment. I found their comments quite interesting.

Spartan5, "THE DEFINITION"???? Really???? That science is totally settled, right? I'm glad that JohnRBaker keeps giving you stars for attacking me, but your agenda is showing. I will not participate in turning this discussion of a major storm event in Houston into a global warming discussion. Sorry. My only reason for stepping in is that the hyperbole of arbitrary labels is hindering the discussion instead of facilitating it.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Hurricane Harvey

DS: Great article... and it points out a common flaw of projecting far beyond normal lifespan...

Just because you can do something mathematically, doesn't mean you should...

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Yeah i think TGS4 is close to nailing the crux of the issue here. Like him , I also lived in Calgary in 2013, and the water volumes were certainly impressive. But as the weeks went by, as an engineer, it was disappointing to observe the reductions in the " 1 in x year " speculations. But I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised. most of these were generated by the media or politicians, who aren't exactly reknowned for accuracy or checking sources .If such a projection were requested from a competent engineer, do you really think that in the middle of a major flood event , one really good set of data could be obtained?? Under these conditions, the references to alligators while draining swamps comes to mind. It is only after the immediate crisis has been contained, a certain level of normalcy achieved, that all the data can be reviewed by competent personnel.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Yes, David. The definition. I take it you read the 295 pages already?
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oh/hdsc/PF_documents/Atlas...

I'll look through the comments that you provided, but I highly doubt any of them support the position that you are advocating; that the 500-year storm should be called the 30-year storm shocked Because at that point, what does the old 30-year storm become? The 5-year storm? And so on down the line. Surely, in the 295 page document I provided, they show there is enough data to at least determine what the 30-year storm is, no? Like I said, with respect, I think you are out of your element.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Spartan5,
Read the link that I posted above. People that USE these classifications to design watersheds, spillways, set insurance rates, etc, find them to be nonsense. I may be out of my element, but the responders to the request for comments are deeply within their element and find the definition to be worthless. I'll go with that and pass on the your 295 page document.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Hurricane Harvey

David:
I read the link. Have you even read it? It says at the outset that there was support for both discontinuing the publication of the 1,000-year data, and for continuing to publish it. I'd hardly come to the conclusion that the consensus is that it is "nonsense" after having read it. Most of the comments against continuing to publish them are that they simply don't have the occasion to use it. There are plenty of comments from the professionals that do use it supporting continued publication.

Regardless of that, your document is a non-sequitur because it in no ways supports your contention that the 30-year storm is wrong and should be made the equivalent of the current 500-year storm.

You might actually stand to learn from reading something developed by leading professionals in the field (instead of a series of anecdotes). But don't let me get in the way of your bliss.

EDIT: Again... looking at the document, more than half of it is people supporting the continuation of development and publication of the 1,000 year storm data. That's a far cry from your statement that "They are nearly unanimous in decrying the quality of 500 year and 1000 year events, and their impact on the environment. I found their comments quite interesting." Did you read it?

RE: Hurricane Harvey

I wonder if some definition hijicks is about FEMA not being held to their 100 and 500 year flood plain maps. I was worried Friday night due to not having flood insurance on the two houses I have here in Houston even though it wasn't required for my loans and both are outside of the 500 year flood plains. The closest the water got was about 3-4 inches from coming into the garage. That was during heavy rain. This slow and steady rain I don't think can flood either house. I did lose a car though two years ago that was parked in front of my house ,outside of a 500 year flood plain, but that was due to extremely heavy rain.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

"the only constant in the natural world is that all things will try to move towards lower entropy"

The flaw in that statement is that the tendency is towards higher entropy. Any local reversals are at the expense of increased entropy that occurs to produce it.

Is there any cooperation between the meteorologists and the hydrologists and the city planners to determine the rainfall levels that will result in problematic conditions? Giving a 'X years' event seems worthless to me. If it doesn't offer even short term predictions about where people need to leave on a street-by-street basis then it seems to be of only academic interest.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

From the CBC:

"Houston's system of bayous and reservoirs was built to drain a tabletop-flat city prone to heavy rains. But its Depression-era design is no match for the stresses brought by explosive development and ever-wetter storms.

Nearly any city would be overwhelmed by the more than 1.2 metres of rain that Hurricane Harvey has dumped since Friday, but Houston is unique in that it gets regular massive floods and has an inability to cope with them. This is the third 100-year-or-more type of flood in three years.

Experts blame too many people, too much concrete, insufficient upstream storage, not enough green space for water drainage and, especially, too little regulation.

"Houston is the most flood-prone city in the United States," said Rice University environmental engineering professor Phil Bedient. "No one is even a close second — not even New Orleans, because at least they have pumps there."

The entire system is designed to clear out only 30 centimetres of rain per 24-hour period, said Jim Blackburn, an environmental law professor at Rice University: "That's so obsolete it's just unbelievable."

'We're not done with this:' Harvey floodwaters continue to wreak havoc as forecast brightens

Also, Houston's Harris County has the loosest, least-regulated drainage policy and system in the entire country, Bedient said."

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/houston-harvey-draina...

That's quite a critique... I guess profits, first... the heck with anything else...

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

The last report from our son in Katy shows that the water in his neighborhood has pretty much receded but that there are many people near him who will not be able to move back into their houses for several weeks. At least he says that when and if he decides to sell, he can advertise that his house stayed high and dry during the "Great Hurricane of 2017".

As for his attempt to reopen his three restaurants, they accomplished that yesterday by 3:00 pm and while they had very limited menus (just what they had on hand that hadn't spoiled) he said that he was expecting his vendors to start making deliveries today and he should be fully up and running by tomorrow for the weekend. He hopes corporate is happy since his was the only concept that got all of their stores open so far, albeit only three locations in the Houston area (nationally, he's responsible for something over 60 restaurants).

He said that it's still somewhat of an adventure getting to work. When I talked to him this morning he had about 5 miles yet to get to his primary store, near the Galleria in uptown Houston, which is normally a 25 mile drive. He said he had already been on the road for better than 90 minutes and figured it was going to be at least another 20 or 30 minutes.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
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The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
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RE: Hurricane Harvey

With 1/3 of Houston inundated, the chances of my inlaw's house not being flooded was on their side.

I guess they lucked out. It was not flooded out.

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


RE: Hurricane Harvey

(OP)
John, can you tell us what kind of restaurant? I'm dying to know.
I know it isn't Waffle House.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Love the San Jose, CA. McCormick & Schmick's it's pretty much my family's default family gathering dinner & a movie restaurant.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

(OP)
Great place. Hope they come back in Houston bigger and badder than ever!

RE: Hurricane Harvey

All this talk of McC&S; they entirely lost their way when they sold out. They were a far better place when the bulk of them were in the Portland metro area. 1st & Oak closed years ago and it's been all down hill since. There's a huge difference between a local group of restaurants where the owners can visit each one every week and a "brand" within a faceless conglomerate. No offense to JRB's son, and if you enjoy the experience that's great, but it's just a name today, not what it was. Sorry, but there's no real way that Pacific Northwest Seafood can be "guided" from Houston, nothing's fresh, nothing's local. The executive chef of McC&S ought to be able to visit Newport, Astoria, Long Beach, Gray's Harbor, the Olympic Peninsula, the San Juan's, and lower BC every week or two and know many of the fish mongers. It was a thing, now it's just a name. Too bad, a great loss.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Quote (davidbeach)

there's no real way that Pacific Northwest Seafood can be "guided" from Houston, nothing's fresh, nothing's local.

Right, since Houston is super far from a major seafood harvesting area. I'm sure there's no fresh seafood for restaurants there.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

jgKRI,
That is exactly the thought I had when I read DavidBeach's post. Some of the best seafood I've ever had was at McC&S in Chicago. Followed closely by a half dozen restaurants of various brands in Houston and Lafayette, LA (I've had better luck there than in New Orleans), a tiny hole in the wall place with only boat access in East Kalimantan Indonesia and a place in Manila. Good sea food mostly requires it to be fresh and handled in a clean environment. Great sea food has to start with fresh and clean and add preparation techniques and seasoning.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Part of my son's job is to visit the places where they get their seafood, which in the last couple of years has included Alaska, Scotland, Canada, etc. Most all of their seafood vendors, except for locally harvested fare, is fresh-packed in ice and flown to where they have their restaurants.

And let's hope that we're not dinged for the off-topic nature of the this recent exchange winky smile

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
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The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
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RE: Hurricane Harvey

Sure, there's fish in the gulf, just very different fish. Not saying the present McC&S is bad, just that McC&S isn't what it was when Mr. McCormick and Mr. Schmick were running a handful of restaurants in a relatively compact geographic area. For some people's tastes it might even be better now than then, others miss the original.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

According to the news, there were some fish in living rooms. Except for the contamination of the water, that's as fresh as it gets.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

The wind farm stood up to 90 mph. Not bad. I would be interested to know their design rating. Would they have taken the 130 mph from around the eye wall? I know a few around here have been shredded by tornadoes, but that is of course not as wide spread as a hurricane would be. Almost nothing beside storm shelters is designed to stand up to a direct hit from a tornado.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

(OP)
Looked at some on line pictures. Structural casualties are about 15% metal buildings (apparently a lot of school gyms in the area are made from metal buildings), 60% residential and 25% small wood framed businesses (my numbers). Of course, beyond that there's countless flood damaged businesses and businesses.
But as a structural engineer, I'm curious about the major structural damage. The winds weren't that high (I don't think they exceeded even minimum code values in the worst area; this wasn't a windy storm) and floods shouldn't knock down steel framed buildings. Does the siding fail due to a non hurricane wind, take out bracing members, and in turn, take down the building?
I'd be interested in the post mortem. Who does these things?

RE: Hurricane Harvey

How about the force of the flood waters on the walls of the structures? Could the currents have been strong enough to dislodge buildings from their foundations? How about the undermining of foundations? I'm not a structural engineer, but I do have an understanding of forces applied to the framework of large pieces of machinery, some as large as small buildings, and side loads were always something that we had to take into consideration, is not during operation, then certainly while being erected and rigged.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
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The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
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RE: Hurricane Harvey

Most building side load are supposedly due to wind loading, which is still relatively minor compared to water pressure. The bottom of a 20-ft wall with 8 ft of water on one side would have about 11500 lb of force against its footings.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Hurricane Harvey

There's a real problem with buildings in a windstorm... having done a whole bunch of forensic reports on failures, and, I think pre-eng buildings are more susceptible and are often damaged.

The main 'secret' in having a good 'wind proof' building is detail to the flashings at the corner and eaves to make sure they are well secured. I don't think you can secure them enough. I've seen failures where fasteners are @8" o/c.

In a windstorm, the wind pressures are higher on the edges and, in particular, the corners. Once a flashed edge fails, then the wind gets in under the roofing/siding and simply tears it off... it then becomes a dangerous 'projectile'.

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

(OP)
You guys (or gals) are right about water pressure. But there is no way those buildings are sealed. One the water is about 6 inches high (and I'm probably being generous) it will leak in through doors and under the siding. This equalizes the water pressure. And unless the water is moving extremely fast (> 8 ft/sec) the velocity pressure is less than 30 psf. That speed would be unusual for urban flooding.
The pictures I see are not from engineers. But they look more like wind failures. I think dik is on the right path. The fasteners fail and the siding or roof ends up supported by a whole different mechanism than it's designed for. One girt or purlin might be taking three times the tributary area it was planned for. When it fails, it twists the main frames and that's all she wrote.
Note that the wood framed commercial buildings and residences are even worse. You've got some guy with a nail gun shooting nails blindly into a 1 1/2 inch wide truss or rafter. Even if they were designed correctly, what's the odds that they're dead center in the 2 by? Some of the roofing sits on my favorite, OSB. The advantage of this besides its price is, when it gets wet, you can spoon it off.
When Florida had hurricane and wind failures they beefed up their codes. Any chance Texas will follow? And by the way, Florida is thinking about relaxing their codes.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Jed,
Your windspeed comment is a concern I have have with the code changes. It is my understanding that Rockport got up to 130 mph sustained winds.

Based on ASCE7-10: ULT 3 sec gust varies between 136 and 156 mph in Rockport. (147 for Risk Cat II)
Based on ASCE7-05, ASD 3 sec gust is 130 mph
Based on ASCE7-93, fastest mile (ASD) is 93 mph

The calculated pressures are relatively close to each other.

This has been one of my pet-peeves with these code changes. Clients can't comprehend that 147 mph now is the same as 130 mph a few years ago, which is the same as 93 mph before that. What design wind speed is the media using when they say winds are higher than code requirements???



RE: Hurricane Harvey

(OP)
I looked at the weather service website. For Port Aransas, the fastest gust was 132 mph. I'm not sure who said that the winds exceeded code design, but reporters are very bad at anything regarding numbers.
As hawkaz said, the Port Aransas (I'm sure Rockport is about the same)ASCE 7-10 mapped values range from 138 mph to 158 mph, depending on the design category.
I think what we structural engineers are going to find is that there are details that are design critical, but are not designed. For Hurricane Andrew, is was the gable ends, These fail, and start stressing our critical members. Mother nature is very good at finding the weak link.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

JedCampett,


I purchased a stucco home in Houston and was very leary and still am some about it due to the humidity we have. The issue with stucco is that it doesn't breath well. Planked siding allow breathing. You never want to seal up a building. Newer stucco homes have venting put in the stucco to help facilitate breathing. Brick I believe has weep holes for breathing as well.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Properly designed and constructed homes that are nearly completely 'sealed' can be done and the Canadian codes are pushing for this condition from an energy point of view. Gone are the days of leaky walls, doors, windows, etc.

There have been huge social changes over the decades... more moisture generated in homes, more time spent in homes, etc. The problem is getting more complicated from the inside and the outside...

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Turns out there was a report 20 years ago which actually did see this flooding coming: Link.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

KoachCSR:

The info contained in your link:

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/harvey/2017/09/05/...

has more information. If I were the insurance companies, based on the new information, that was not acted on, I'd be refusing coverage to at least the City of Houston. It would be a hardship to refuse coverage to the residents... but, they could start up a class action...

Good post...

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Thanks dik - I didn't notice this previously, but the actual report is included at the bottom of the dallasnews.com link.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Yup... I hate it when they put things on Scribd or other info websites that you cannot readily access... Any insurance companies should be giving it a good read before paying the City of Houston... they brought this on themselves...

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

(OP)
dik, if you think the insurance companies are worried about a "hardship to refuse coverage to the residents" you're sorely mistaken. They'll drop their clients in a millisecond if it's costing them money. And they really hate flooding or windstorms, because the damages are extensive in an area. Because of this, I'd say the insurance companies have the one and only hammer to get things to change. They can refuse coverage until meaningful change happens. As I said above, this is how the building code got improved in Florida. Unless you're a psychopath, you're not going to build or move to a place that is uninsurable. And that hurts the real estate market. Until now, the voters are apparently not interested, so politicians get re-elected based on unlimited sprawl platforms.
From this observer, it seems like until Houston starts condemning and tearing out houses in the flood plane, creating retention areas and encouraging vertical growth, rather than horizontal, this flooding will repeat.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

It appears that in addition to Irma, there are TWO additional tropical storms that are being watched as potential hurricanes; Jose, coming up behind Irma, and Katia, forming at the Southern edge of the Gulf of Mexico:



http://www.newsweek.com/katia-and-jose-have-reache...

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Jed... put that in for humour... that's why I added the class action... I would suggest the City of Houston may pay dearly for their negligence... every penny an insurance company saves... comes directly out of profit...

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

(OP)
Sorry dik. Went over my head. flip

RE: Hurricane Harvey

The people of Houston didn't push on their officials to raise taxes to pay for a solution. Why is the city at fault for basically doing what the people wanted? Near no one was pushing for an expensive mitigation 3 months ago. The fact that a report shows that this could become a problem doesn't change anything, in my opinion. Anyone who has lived in Houston for the last 10 years knows that the flooding was getting worse. It isn't like people weren't aware that this was becoming a problem.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

It's OK... I've never thought that insurance companies were really sympathetic... as long as they collect the premiums and don't pay out, they're happier than pigs in poop...

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

HamburgerHelper... This is getting a little far off track.

The city, being part of a government structure, has an obligation to look after the long term best interests of the people... Houston failed miserably. Like the Texas legislation where a chemical plant is not obligated/required to provide data on the chemicals on site; this IMHO, is not conscionable.

I'm certain, if I were an insurance company, I would be refusing coverage based on Houston's prior knowledge... it clearly falls under my 'definition' of negligence, "Negligence arises when one person owes to another a duty of care and breaches that duty, and reasonably foreseeable harm arises as a result of that breach."

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

3
The flooding of Houston is a problem of Houston's own making. They elected a pro development mayor in the 90's, Bob Lanier, whose friends & supporters are responsible for much of the flooded housing stock. He was mayor until 1997. Highway projects were his pet passion because they make land worth more. This all needs to be considered against Federal Highway Funds appropriations and the readiness of any State's highway project to utilize those funds. Perhaps the reason to move forward on the I-10 in spite of the Flood Assessment was because any reconsideration of the project would have knocked Houston out of the running for a lion's share of Transportation dollars. Reading Houston politics is engrossing but you'll want to take a shower when you are done.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

I believe flood insurance is only sold by FEMA, and it only covers the structure, not the contents.
So why are we talking about insurance companies?
So if FEMA deems the land uninsurable no one can get a normal loan on those homes.

Now if your house were to burn down, that is a different story.

Flood-plain land is still usable, but not so much for housing. It would be a real good for selling boats, a race track, pasture land, etc.

A class action suit on the developers is an idea that can happen.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

It's like up along the Mississippi. The Corp of Engineers would rather spend their money on flood control dams up on the various tributaries in places like Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa rather than levies in Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, etc. But flood control dams are out-of-sight and therefore it doesn't look like the Corp is doing anything in those states where Senators and Representatives want to show their constituents that they've been able to "deliver the bacon" as it were, so the levies get built. It would be better to just tell the farmers that if their farmland floods, the government will pay for their lost crops, but after a levy is built the farmer decides instead to develop the land and build houses, which now really raises the cost to taxpayers when a levy fails. It would have been better off to just let the bottom land flood once in awhile, spend the levy money on flood-control dams upstream and cover the losses in those years when there is flooding. Besides, levies merely raises the average level of the river so that when there is a flood it's much worse than what it would have been if there were no levies and excess water had been allowed to flow onto the traditional flood plains rather then trying to keep it in the river so that it can do even more damage downstream somewhere.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Hurricane Harvey

IRstuff - levies are still involved in creating levees.

The economic problem is a decent levee allows a developer to make money by using land that is otherwise unusable, but is near already fully developed areas. That's what pushes states/localities to allow levee building.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Cranky...didn't know that FEMA is the only insurer for flooding... can they withhold funds?

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Except that "levies" don't get built, they just get enacted.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

IRstuff - I was poking fun at the difference, fun that is founded on your understanding the difference.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

If it hadn't been for Hurricane Harvey, the national flood insurance program would have expired at the end of September, which is the end of the fiscal year, as the current administration had recommended that its funding be cancelled, however they've now agreed to extend it to at least December.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
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RE: Hurricane Harvey

Quote (HamburgerHelper)

The people of Houston didn't push on their officials to raise taxes to pay for a solution


Have you seen what property taxes (~3%) and sales taxes (8.75%) are in the Houston Metro? Nobody is going to push for tax increases here.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Flood insurance, to me should not be run by the government. The issue, as I understand is some insurance companies issued too many policies in one area, and were to become insolvent.
The government took it over. I believe that was before reinsurance, and as much regulations as we have now.

Some business regulation are necessary because of stupid decisions, but a government takeover is over the top.

Here's the kicker, you could have higher taxes to pay for flood control measures, that may not meet the minimum, and still be required to purchase flood insurance by your lender.

I still stand behind a class action on the developers, who should have known better. This sounds like a greed issue (I am not a friend of developers).


Someone told me today that it might help to keep stuff from water damage, to place it in your dishwasher before you leave your house (any thoughts?).

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Cranky... as long as the insurance companies can prove their solvency...

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

TIL... if your house is about to be flooded out, Pull some wires loose on a socket and set the place on fire. Insurance covers the latter, but not the former. 2thumbsup

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Don't wait too long, though. The flood might put out your electrical fire.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

"Flood insurance, to me should not be run by the government."

That's ironic, the reason the government is running it and earthquake insurance is precisely because the free market doesn't want to. Floods and earthquakes have no upper bound on damage costs. That's not something that's covered by classical actuarial risk analysis, since the near infinite downside is not adequately compensated by the low probability.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Hurricane Harvey

The other issue is that unlike what most insurance products are designed to cover, hurricanes and earthquakes don't really have a low probability, not when you consider that they are confined to specific geographical areas. For example, unlike fire insurance or simple accident insurance, you can't spread the risk over almost the complete population. After all, not many people more than say 150 miles from the Atlantic or Gulf coast would ever buy insurance that would cover the damage from a hurricane, and even flood insurance would still be limited to a rather small geographic footprint compared to the entire country. Earthquake insurance is probably even more limited, to basically the Western 1/3 or 1/4 of the country. Yea, there have been quakes in places like Missouri and more recently Oklahoma, but I suspect not many people in those areas would ever consider buying earthquake insurance.

Traditionally underwritten insurance only works if the risk pool is relatively large compared to the statistical rate of having to make payouts, which is what actuarial tables are used to project or estimate, and as has been already noted, any financially sound actuarial table designed to predict the payouts for earthquakes and floods would be so horrendous that no for-profit organization would touch it at any price.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Hurricane Harvey

2
Yet another bad side of government run insurance is people with influence and money (like cities and big developers) get the government to change the insurance rules so areas which should not be insurance-able still get covered. You've got the insurance companies saying "no way" which strongly discourages development in an flood plane but then along comes the FEMA coverage so the flood-plane gets developed in a way it should not have anyways.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

How do you sell a huge expensive project that may mitigate a 500 year disaster when allowing for development helps mitigate money problems you already have today? The army corp of engineers or someone ,in my opinion, should have pushed really hard for a project because FEMA gets stuck with the bill for the city's shortsighted priorities.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

A little off topic, but FEMA also sells volcano eruption insurance. What are the chances of that happening?

If companies can sell spacecraft launch insurance, why can't they sell flood insurance? Part of the reason is simple, government regulations in each state limit the ability of companies to sell usable insurance.
By usable I mean the states add requirements that increase the costs.
Yes I know the insurance commissions are there to protect the customers, but they also add baggage to what products are sold in each state.

I suspect another reason insurance companies don't want to sell flood insurance is the agents don't know how to rate the property. I've seen flood maps, and in cases they were wrong. It led me to find a different lender who had better maps. Here again, people could be looking at lenders with bad maps to get lower payments on homes, due to the fact that the lender does not require flood insurance.

But in the case of hurricane Irma with 15 foot storm surges, how many homes are above 15 feet above high tide level?

Another detail on electric utilities, most public companies are in part or completely self insured, like many city owned electric companies, but RECs will turn to FEMA for the cost of rebuilding.
This detail will eat into the payouts from FEMA, and we the taxpayers pay for that.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

"What are the chances of that happening"

Probably should ask the residents near Mount St. Helens.

"If companies can sell spacecraft launch insurance, why can't they sell flood insurance?"
Launch insurance is for a single launch, and is limited to the actual cost of the hardware; which is fully bounding, i.e., you know the maximum loss is $250 million or whatever. You can insure a multiple of launches, but those are all separate events, and the loss of one satellite does not in any way affect the potential loss of a different satellite. The premiums have historically been sufficient to cover the losses.

When you sell flood insurance to, say, 500,000 people, if a few get flooded, the premiums can cover the losses; if 100,000 get flooded, at $500k per loss, that's $50 billion dollars. If that only happens once every 66 years, the premiums at, say, $1500 annual, could cover the losses, but that's obviously not happening.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Hurricane Harvey

(OP)
As far as electric utilities, there's a small pool of them (the ones that operate nuclear power plants), that share insurance costs. Which is basically just another type of insurance.
The problem with flood insurance is that if a flood happens, you're going to end up with whole cities of claims. You can't cover hundred of thousands of dollars in losses for hundreds of thousands of clients. But the government can't practically stop people from living in flood plains (they can try, but as long as developers give campaign donations, they can't succeed), especially 500 year flood plains, and they can't leave them to die in poverty after a flood. It's a horrible system, but I can't think of a better one. If there's a house there, someone is living in it and that house contains voters and heart wrenching stories for the news.
Maybe if there was a lifetime limit on a house on flood insurance. You get it once, but the second time, you get enough for another house, and that one is torn down and the land is condemned.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

You get it once, but the second time, you get enough for another house, and that one is torn down and the land is condemned


Jed, I think you hit the nail on the head. Let the market (insurability of a piece of land) dictate zoning for floods, i.e. if a claim is placed against flood insurance, the land becomes permanently un-insurable against floods. The user could still build on that property, but would have to mitigate against flood damage on his/her own dime (i.e. build on a berm, build a floating house, whatever).

I think search and rescue operations should operate similarly, i.e. you get one free rescue from a dangerous place, after that you are on your own.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

We had some water damage in our house a few years ago, not from a flood but from a leak in the ice maker in our frig. We had the frig under maintenance contract but they somehow missed the problem until it ruined the hardwood floor in our kitchen. We made a claim to our homeowners insurance which ended-up having to replace all of the hardwood in our house since they could not get any of the original hardwood (the supplier had gone out-of-business). In the end, it cost the insurance company $25,000 to replace the hardwood floors (we understand that they sued the frig maintenance company since they were the ones who had insisted that it was not the ice-maker that was leaking but finally had to admit that they had missed it on their last couple of maintenance calls). The point is that a couple of years later we changed insurance companies and the new company put a rider on our policy that exempted any claim for water damage for five years as a result of our original claim. Why couldn't flood insurance to the same thing?

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
EX-Product 'Evangelist'
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Of course, the replacement cost of a house doesn't reflect market values. So, if for whatever reason, a homeowner got snookered, or baited into buying a house in a bad zone and didn't do or understand their required due diligence, unless the insurance covers buying a comparable house, they're seriously SOL and likely to wind up back at the same address with no insurance whatsoever. If it's a handful of people, then they're SOL, but if there's a sizable population in that boat, the politicians are SOL, as are the taxpayers that will have to bail them out.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Floating homes? I think they do that somewhere else. Why not?

But just try to add on a bedroom.

I was told, and it may or may not be true, that in some places that were once flooded the people have to sell the land because of the new requirement of rebuilding on peers. The owners are older and can not climb the stairs. Even if it were not true, how do you make homes like that ADA compliant?

I believe the flood insurance issue is a company must spread the risk, but state insurance laws make that difficult, except within that state.

But what if someone put insurance on the net? You could buy, say 0.1% risk in 5000 homes, and you make 0.1% profit less transaction fees on 5000 homes.
So your home would be insured by a pool of 1000 people that are betting your home will not flood within some period of time.

If the pool were to include 100 homes in each of the 50 states, the risk is much less that a large number would be flooded.

But something like that would put government workers out of a job, so that won't fly.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

"You could buy, say 0.1% risk in 5000 homes, and you make 0.1% profit less transaction fees on 5000 homes."

only a minor problem that 0.1% of 5000 homes at $375k each comes to $1.875 million, which is exactly the same math that the insurance companies ran and they ran.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Cranky... "But just try to add on a bedroom." Never hear of a waterbed?

I think it's really silly for the government to underwrite flood insurance... they have no idea of what the future holds... and it's a waste of taxpayer money... the states are all for it because it means money in their coffers for a long time to come...

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

"the states are all for it because it means money in their coffers for a long time to come..."

No, they don't; be they Republican, who then cut taxes until there's nothing in the coffer, or be they Democrat, who then spends it until there's nothing in the coffer.

I think government is actually in a good spot to do this, since they could crank premiums high enough to discourage people from risking taxpayer dollars, but no one seems to wan to be the bad guy. If the government didn't do this, every year there would a hundred thousand or so new homeless people roaming the streets of the mid-West and Southeast.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Quote (cranky)

rebuilding on peers

Isn't that a bit draconian?

I believe Holland has areas where the homes can all float if needed.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Building on peers is not uncommon. Floating homes is uncommon in the US. Except if you have a house boat.

Actually FEMA has a political problem with being the bad guy. Insurance companies have no problem being the bad guy, which is why flood insurance should not be government run.

But insurance companies, because of state insurance laws, have a problem in spreading the risk enough to offer flood insurance.

So why is flood insurance that much different than fire insurance in the West?

RE: Hurricane Harvey

cranky - it's "piers". Peers are people.

Please remember: we're not all guys!

RE: Hurricane Harvey

The Mafia build on their peers. Jimmy Hoffa is in a parking deck somewhere.

----------------------------------------

The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

50 56 years on Christine Keeler is still alive.
Years ago there were false assumptions that Christine Keeler had died,based on reports that her body had been found under an old British Peer.

Bill
--------------------
"Why not the best?"
Jimmy Carter

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Yes, Bill remember that... she had drowned...bobbing up and down under a...

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

HH... and the next one? Who pays for it... another 9%?

Dik

RE: Hurricane Harvey

HamburgerHelper - Texas literally seems to be a place where one hemisphere of the brain doesn't communicate with the other hemisphere. We have the property owner/property tax payer, FEMA (All Americans) & the City of Houston but what about the State of Texas (Texans), the Developers & the Oil Refineries including their downstream refining product partners. Isn't the whole concept of self regulation with minimal government intervention, based on the premise that the Risk/Reward ratio has greater cataclysmic results when risk comes due? This concept of self regulation with minimal government intervention is a Texas state of mind, not just Houston's and the government of the State of Texas needs to dig deep it to it's wallet. Likewise, the developers played a paramount roll in creating the conditions to manifest this disaster and now it is time to pay the piper. This concept of self regulation with minimal government intervention hearkens back to Dutch Republicanism during the time of the VOC/Dutch East India Company and the belief that in times of great despair or tragedy, it was inherent upon the wealthy & prosperous to see to the "needs" of the suffering population. Houston has been absolute gold to the Oil Refineries & their downstream product partners and anything short of these entities making vast contributions to the region's welfare proves that the concept of self regulation & minimal government intervention is not a model that deserves to continue because the Oil Refineries & their downstream product partners are not capable of confining their risk to their own operation nor demonstrating they are a good neighbor in a crisis. It is just weird that so much of the recovery discussion seems to be absent of the State, the Developers & the Chemical Industry. Mind you, the wealthy Dutch of the Dutch Golden Age didn't arrive at the principals of Republican Charity without prodding from their better halves, so failing to rope the State, the Developers & the Oil Refineries & their downstream product partners into the "good works" of the recovery plan from the onset, is just failing at the beginning.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

I sort of agree. But giving is a choice, and should not be forced, (unless you are the US government).

If a business is in good shape, than by all means they should give. If the business is not in good shape, they have other concerns to take care of first.

There are morals at play here, not forced mandates.

When you ask how much you should give, the answer is more, more, more. This applies to both giving and taxes.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

epoxybot,

The state has a rainy day fund but I expect that it won't use it. The state is slow or won't fix things unless it is forced to. There are pollution sites up and down the coast and the state won't do anything because they are hoping the federal government will declare them superfund sites and pick up the tab. I think Texas will hope and wait for the federal government to fix it unless enough noise is made by the city and all the plants that shutdown.

The mindset of the state is very different from where I moved here from, Minnesota. Minnesota has much higher taxes but there are a lot of things that get resolved ,in my opinion, better because the state spends the money to resolve problems that affect everyone. Schooling ,almost, across the board is very good to excellent, even in the rural areas. In Texas, it is very hit or miss depending on how much tax revenue that school district can bring in. If you have a plant in your school district, you'll be flush with cash. Some of the high schools have football stadiums that are far better than the division 2 college I went to for most of my undergrad. Texas is just very different. The fact that a high speed train is going to be built between Houston and Dallas still blows my mind. I think that someone is getting a kick back or made a large donation or something. Public transit ,at least, in Houston is very subpar for a metro but I think that is due to the Texan independent mindset. Large expensive projects that will be paid for in a socialized manner are not a Texas thing.

RE: Hurricane Harvey

60 years ago. Wow. No wonder my memory was off.

Bill
--------------------
"Why not the best?"
Jimmy Carter

RE: Hurricane Harvey

Quote (waross)


50 56 years on Christine Keeler is still alive.
Years ago there were false assumptions that Christine Keeler had died,based on reports that her body had been found under an old British Peer.

My favorite peer joke is the one about the horse thief who is told he will be tried by a jury of his peers and then taken out and strung up. He asks what a peer is and they tell him.

"You mean I am going to be tried by a jury of horse thieves?"

--
JHG

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