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article imageOp-Ed: Texas flooding event should be a wake-up call for our leaders

By Karen Graham     Aug 27, 2017 in Politics
Houston - There is a reason why forecasters and the news media is calling the flooding from what was Hurricane Harvey a catastrophe, once-in-500-years flood or a disaster of epic proportions. When pencil-pushers start adding up the costs, it will be unbelievable.
We're not just talking about the damages to the 200,000 homes that sat directly in the path of the hurricane - This alone could end up being $40 billion because infrastructure, business losses, employment and health costs have not been factored into the total.
“We the taxpayers will be throwing $40-50 billion at this, I can assure you,” Larry Larson, the senior policy advisor at the Association of State Floodplain Managers, told Vox.com. “It could be even worse than Katrina.”
CC License: Attrition  no deriv.
CC License: Attrition, no deriv.
#Flooding on Twitter
At this minute, I, along with millions of Americans, am watching live reporting from Houston as I write this story, and it is distressing to see literally hundreds of people wading through flood waters, some of it chest-high as they escape to safe ground.
Organizations from all across the country are responding, sending firefighters and other first-responders to Texas.
And while FEMA officials are saying the Texas "disaster's going to be a landmark event," first responders can't even get into Houston. At the same time, Houston's mayor is defending his decision to not call for an evacuation of the city, saying putting 2.5 million people on the highways would have been a disaster in itself.
CC License: Attrition  no deriv.
CC License: Attrition, no deriv.
#Flooding on Twitter
Our government's failure to take risks seriously
And while all that's going on in Texas is being transmitted into living rooms, smartphones, tablets and other devices across the country, I'm also wondering, and to be honest, I am a bit angry, at the federal government's failure to take the risks of coastal flooding from extreme weather events seriously.
Historical facts and science need to be taken seriously. With Hurricane Harvey, the technology behind the forecasts predicting the damaging rainfall and flooding were very accurate, yet many people, including government officials in some cases, looked at the warnings as "nothing more than a rain event" because they had lived through them before. No one in the U.S. has lived through what the people of Texas are going through right now.
This photomicrograph depicts Cryptococcus
This photomicrograph depicts Cryptococcus
Dr. Leanor Haley
Health impacts from Hurricane Harvey could be serious
Watching news footage of people wading through flood waters or standing barefoot in their homes, I wonder if they have even thought of the possible risks to their health this storm poses. Besides the risk of heart attacks, injuries, and death associated with the flooding, there is the real risk of infections or even outbreaks of any number of diseases, including parasitic infections.
And all these problems will be magnified by the breakdown in our public health infrastructure. Right now, hospitals are already running on emergency power, or in one case, have been evacuated because of flooding into the basement that disabled the power supply. One pregnant woman is waiting to get a C-section.
Bottom line - The flood waters will likely be heavily contaminated with sewage and possibly, toxic chemicals. Besides bacterial infection, GI pathogens, including parasites like Cryptosporidiosis or Giardia will be present, and they can cause prolonged diarrheal infections.
The elderly, the very young, and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk from any of these infections and with a compromised healthcare system, it is very important that their health is monitored carefully. And enough cannot be said about drinking water. Please be careful. If you must drink water from a tap, bring it to a rolling boil for one minute before consumption.
Trump dedicated around half an hour of his 78-minute speech to attacking the "sick people"...
Trump dedicated around half an hour of his 78-minute speech to attacking the "sick people" in the news media, before turning his fire on his own side
Nicholas Kamm, AFP
Congress will have to step up and pay attention
Every Congressman or Congresswoman regardless of their party affiliation had better be watching the live news feeds from all of us "fake news" and "un-American" journalists, as Trump called us when he tweeted today. And yet, The-man-who-calls-himself-president tweeted his "news dump" on the public Friday night while Texans were being battered by torrential rains and floods.
I hope Congress took note of that and I hope they react in a way that shows they are responsible to the voting public and not the jackass sitting in the Oval Office because people are hurting right now and need the government's support. Trump and his planned visit to Houston on Tuesday is not going to do a d----d thing to lighten the burden of the victims in this national catastrophe.
We need infrastructure repair, not tomorrow, but yesterday. We need a plan for future solutions to extreme weather events brought on by a warming climate. People struggling to get to safety in the flood waters are not interested in asinine tweets or what the president recommends that everyone read - They need to know the government cares about their safety.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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