Most Americans are rightfully focused on the rescue efforts in Houston and the other parts of Texas facing life-threatening flooding because of Hurricane Harvey. The situation has already proven deadly, and more lives are still in serious danger as the storm is threatening to make landfall again.
With this still potent storm still raining down on the Gulf region, no expense should be spared in the actual rescue efforts. Thankfully, it doesn't seem that anyone is trying to skimp on this part of the process and that includes both government efforts and private sector/volunteer groups rushing to assist those in dire need.
But in order to save even more lives in the future, it's time to start coming to a hard realization that these deadly floods aren't just an act of God; they're disasters that Americans aren't doing enough to prevent in the first place.
One of the biggest problems is the way we look at these disasters, particularly in Houston. We keep hearing terms like "100 year floods" when in fact, Houston has suffered at least three disasters described as "100 year floods" since 2001. To be specific, we saw massive flooding from Tropical Storm Allison in June of 2001. Then Hurricane Ike brought similar damage to the area in 2008. The spring of 2013 saw massive thunderstorms that also did significant damage to the city.
In other words, terms like "100 year floods" are less than meaningless. Let's face it, Houston is a city susceptible to major floods every few years. If insurance agents want to continue using actuarial terms for floods that make them sound much less common than they really are, that's literally their business. But normal people and their families need real statistics to plan their lives accordingly.