A Tale of Two Worlds -- Much of Houston Underwater

Trump said at his news conference today, "You’re going to get your funding." He expects the formal request for emergency funding for Harvey victims to come soon. Meantime, FEMA spokeswoman Stephanie Moffett says, expenses from dealing with Harvey’s destruction are "quickly drawing down the remaining balance" in FEMA’s disaster-relief fund, which earlier today stood at $3.3 billion. (See separate item, on FEMA, National Guard, and other mobilization).

Some of the Congressional dead-heads are still balking, even some from Texas. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, today reverted to his johnny-one-note venality, hinting that in order to help the Gulf Coast, Federal budget cuts can be found to offset it, "from lower-priority spending."

In dollar terms, the sensible range of costs to rebuild after the storm, start at $100 billion, considering the need for completely restoring transportation, housing, power, food distribution, safe water and sanitation, factories, and farming.

Plus, it’s long overdue to build the infrastructure to protect against the vulnerability of the entire Gulf Coast to hurricanes and fierce storms. What Rep. Culberson said of this today on Bloomberg is completely false, that, "No one could have ever predicted or expected a catastrophe of this magnitude to descend on the Houston area."

In reality, Texas, itself, is host to research specialists studying the mid-latitude storm patterns. Plus, only last year came the inundation of Houston in the huge "Tax Day Flood," which hit in mid-April, 2016. This was a foretaste for Harvey.

Take a quick look at the infrastructure history of the region, centered on the San Jacinto and Brazos river systems. This is the location of the greater Houston area, which is barely 50 feet above sea level, and prone to flooding. As of 1940, a flood-protection plan was devised for Houston, which involved a couple dams, and systems of drainage channels, levees, and other structures, to manage and divert flood run-off away from heavily settled areas. Right after WW II, the Barker Dam was built (1945) and the Addicks Dam (1948), whose reservoirs hold back high run-off, for calculated release, when flooding recedes. Following this initial construction, no radical updates were made over the decades in the Houston area, in the Harris County Flood Control District.

Fast forward to the present catastrophe, and the lack of protective structures and systems is clear. The problem is not the two dams as such—they are 20 years over their engineering life span, but have been strengthened. At present, water is being released from their reservoirs, because they are overflowing with the epic rainfall and run-off.

The problem is that new, larger diversion and water-management systems were not put in place over the years. Doing so is a unique challenge, but there are examples of super-challenges that have been met in other parts of the world.

Look at Tokyo, another populous area, practically at sea level, and prone to epic flooding. From 1992 to 2006, gigantic underground silos were built outside Tokyo, to handle flood waters, in what is called the "Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel." This is the largest water diversion, and holding tank system in the world. It consists of five concrete containment chambers. Tokyo is prone to deluge from simultaneous rains, run-off from inland slopes, and sea surge. When safe, enormous pumps lift the water out of the underground storage complex.

The Harris County Flood Control District has even been short of minimal maintenance funds. Earlier this month, its Director of Operations, Matt Zeve, told the Houston Chronicle that the District had a $100 million maintenance backlog.

A Tale of Two Worlds by LaRouchePAC August 29, 2017

As Charles Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."

Today it is not two cities, but two visions of the future of mankind, and of the fundamental nature of man.

The world is watching the devastation in Houston — a natural disaster, of course, but one which found a "little people" (as Schiller said of the French population at the time of Dickens's tale), who have allowed the nation's infrastructure to decay to the point of collapse. Houston is notoriously unprepared to deal with flooding during even annual storms, let alone hurricanes or the current 1,000-year flood. Already in 2012, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the city a C- on its "report card" regarding flood control. The two primary flood control dams for Houston, both on the verge of overflow or even collapse in the current storm, were built in the 1940s and are 20 years past their life expectancy.

But Houston is no different than essentially every part of these United States. Our greatest city, New York, is undergoing a general breakdown in transportation, sanitation, water, and more — a reality addressed on Aug. 26 at a Schiller Institute forum in Manhattan. The infrastructure deficit has created powder kegs across the nation, only needing a spark to set them off, as we saw with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, with superstorm Sandy in New York City, or with the drought in the Southwest.

On the other hand, the "spring of hope" vision of the world is becomming a reality, as the New Silk Road is bringing large- scale infrastructure across Asia, Africa, and Ibero-America, infrastructure which was denied them throughout the colonial and post-colonial eras. In particular, two of the Great Projects proposed by Lyndon LaRouche over the past decades — the Kra Canal in southern Thailand, and the replenishing of the nearly- depleted Lake Chad in Africa through diversion of water from the Congo — are now close to realization. These projects have been fiercely opposed by the former colonial powers, and are still opposed in the West under the fraudulent guise of environmental damage and unprofitability. In both of these Great Projects, the role of China's Belt and Road Initiative is the central driving force, viewing mankind not as subjects of an oligarchy, but as the reason for the existence of governments.

Why can't the U.S., and Europe, participate in this world-changing development process? The only reason is the continuing power of the bankrupt financial empire centered in London and New York. The degeneracy of the Western banking system into a sprawling gambling casino, only willing to "invest" in speculative binges, driving ever-greater decay of the physical economy and the standard of living of the "lower 90%" of the population — this is the reality which brought about the election of Donald Trump. This is the reality which is driving the ongoing coup attempt against him by the powers of London and Wall Street and their slavish, totally-owned political leaders and media whores. "The US must not be allowed to join the New Silk Road," bellows the modern day Ozymandias, from Shelley's poem. "The government must not interfere in Wall Street," he adds. "The U.S. must prepare for war with Russia.... My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Houston must serve as a wake-up call. Of course the American people will awake from their slumber to help the people of Houston in this disaster — but they must also, finally, act to restore the American System, to demand the end of the casino mondial, and the creation of a Hamiltonian credit system, immediately, to generate the credit needed to rebuild our cities at a modern level, our transportation networks, our water systems, our power generation, our schools, and hospitals. As Helga Zepp- LaRouche said at the Manhattan forum on the infrastructure crisis Aug. 26, "Why not build 50 new cities?" China has done it, and is taking it around the world through the Belt and Road. We can, and must, join them.