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Political Discussion on Flooding

The below article (in Dutch) translates to:

As government you have 3 options, prevention, modification of structures or rebuild afterwards. The Netherlands has over the centuries embraced the former. Houston has chosen the latter.


Texas operates as a classic example of a republican state. The freedom of the individual takes preference over the needs of the whole. Government interference is seen as harmful. For prominent politicians it’s political suicide to build something as major as a storm surge barrier or dyke.

Disaster response is an American manner of doing things. There is a structure for it. States can, during times of disaster, count on money from Washington.

Illustration for article titled Political Discussion on Flooding

My mom, who lives in the Netherlands (as did I for 14 years), sent this to me and it’s always interesting to read an international perspective on things. Especially when said perspective comes from a country that is known the world over for its expertise in flood prevention. We reached out to the Dutch after Katrina and I have ZERO doubt that Houston will be reach out post-Harvey.


It’s especially that last paragraph that gets me. We have billion dollar funds when it comes to aiding cities and regions post-disaster. But why aren’t those funds going to preventing the next big disaster? At some point this has to change. I just heard on the radio that 40% of businesses that close during a flood never reopen. I’ve heard figures into the tens of millions of dollars for what it would take to rebuild. After we’ve put our resources toward those affected by Harvey, we should be putting resources toward areas that could be next. But I fear we’ll do the same. We’ll wait for the next disaster and only THEN will we react.

I in no way want to belittle the bravery, compassion, badassery and collaboration that have been displayed by the Texans affected and by people throughout our nation who have rolled up their sleeves to assist in rescue, rebuilding and whatever else is needed. I just wish it hadn’t been necessary. We really get to know what people are made of, it brings out the best in us. But at what cost?

„Je hebt als overheid drie paden”, zegt Brand aan de telefoon. „Preventie, aanpassing van gebouwen en herbouw achteraf. Nederland heeft zich gedurende eeuwen het eerste eigen gemaakt. Houston kiest steeds voor het laatste.”

Texas handelt als klassiek-Republikeinse staat, zegt Brand. „De vrijheid van het individu krijgt voorrang boven het collectief belang. Inmenging van de overheid vooraf wordt als kwalijk gezien. Voor prominente politici is het electorale zelfmoord over zoiets ingrijpends als een stormvloedkering of een dijk te beginnen.

Rampenbestrijding is ook echt de Amerikaanse aanpak. Er bestaat een structuur voor. Staten kunnen bij een ramp rekenen op geld uit Washington.

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