Saturday, October 04, 2008

Clusterfuck in the wake of Hurricane Ike

Hurricane Ike happened three weeks ago, making landfall at Galveston on September 13. Today the almost-always-useless local paper went against type and ran an actual news article, reporting about angry residents of a condo complex called The Landing who have been booted out of their buildings because more than two-thirds of the complex is deemed unlivable.

I was struck by the article because I lived in The Landing in 1970, when it was an apartment complex. (It was the first place my family lived in Texas, at a time when my father wasn't sure he was going to be transferred permanently to the Shell refinery there. We lived there about 10 months.) It is located [satellite map] right on the shore of Clear Lake, and even back then the parking lots would flood during a bad storm because it was so close to sea level. At some point in the 1980s, on one of my trips back for Christmas, I drove by and noticed that the ground around the complex had been built up somewhat, raising it a few feet. Not enough in the case of a major hurricane, and in any case there must have been extensive wind damage, as the eye of the hurricane passed just a few miles to the east.

As I've written many times, I've no love for that area, which I consider a mistake and the worst example of suburban sprawl. It isn't a town and never was; it's just a collection of subdivisions plunked down between two towns, Webster and Seabrook, that were barely more than rural hamlets before LBJ got NASA to locate its headquarters there. As I wrote previously, the area has "no center, no landmarks, no history, no culture, and no taste." I have no reason to go back there anymore, as my mother moved out of the state following my father's death.

It's too bad for the people who were tricked into buying as condos these small apartments which were kind of nice in 1970 but were located in a flood-prone area. But if you choose to live in that area, it's hard to feel sorry for you, because it was a disaster before the hurricane, and the hurricane just made it more obvious.

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